Getting an externship is a weird process. You apply to 3 positions solely based on a paragraph description in their database. You are then granted an offer at one of the firms - no interview, nothing. This position at State Street was listed for grad students only, but I think I was the only person that applied so they took me. It was unpaid, unfortunately.
The month-long "externship" helped me realize what I do not want to do with my life. I think that I have found that entry level Course 15 Management positions are boring. You basically do the grunt work for the higher ups. Once you are "the boss" and you have some responsibility it gets a lot more interesting. I am straddled between both management and computers. I like doing coding, but I am not very good, at least not until I take more Course 6 EECS classes. I also want to project manage more, but no one hires then for interns. I think course 6 entry-level positions, especially at engineering led places like Google, are much better in terms of doing interesting work. Also with coding you generally have a large scale project, where you can go away and work on it for some time, whereas I was just doing small pieces here. My next goal is to find an engineering position, particularly at a smaller start-up or engineering-led organization for the summer. I actually turned down one of those positions in Palo Alto this January. I regret doing that now (in part I wanted to be on campus, and it felt like a big hassle to move out there for a month; but I found that the campus is fairly dead during IAP). Before I came to MIT, I decided to try a bunch of different jobs, companies, and industries during my time here.
In addition I did not enjoy the position itself. The original paragraph description listed greater responsibility. I handled the organization work for the forum - emailing people, ordering the AV, etc. Basically secretarial work. I generally completed my tasks for the day with lots of time left over. I asked for more things to work on, but I finished those tasks quickly as well. While it let me get more of my stuff done, it was not the environment which I was looking for this IAP.
I am starting to realize how lucky I was to find the Touch&Travel team at Deutsche Bahn. Sure it was not really an engineering-led project, but it was pushing the envelope. Perhaps, State Street doesn't need to innovate to continue making money. I never really got a concrete sense of what they did - some sort of processing for hedge funds. Because I lacked this understanding, it did not let me come up with suggestions on my own like I did last summer. I realized also last summer that I was very lucky to come up with some good ideas and I was very fortunate my boss let me work on it and that they found some of my work helpful and used it.
I think I have spoiled myself with the speed and energy of MIT. Life moves fast here. During the semester you have to count every minute of every day - going to 8+ events in one day while also squeezing in homework is fairly normal. I think I am addicted to the feeling of being busy. Or perhaps it is the memory, that, try as you might, you can never recreate. I discussed all this with my boss on my last day. He told me not to race so fast if you don't know where you are going. Good advice. I could never do a union/government style job where you spend all your energy figuring out how to do the least work while extracting the most money for yourself. I could not stand to work at a place that has union-style work rules that strictly limit cross functional work. I want what I do to have meaning and be fulfilling. I want to see what I make out there in the world. I want to make a real impact (not necessarily in a social-good way, but something that aids in the social welfare of society) Perhaps I am simply too driven for my own good. I want to get something meaningful done every minute. I am constantly asking myself is there something that would be a better use of my time. I think Keith Yost also experienced the same thing.
One thing which I did find very interesting was the contrast with delegation. At State Street I was working under a Senior Vice President late in his career. At DB I worked under a guy a few years out of university. The SVP was not afraid at all to delegate tasks to the proper departments. My manager at DB was very cynical about other departments - don't get marketing involved, they will mess things up, slow things down, etc. Perhaps it was that the service departments at State Street were much better. Even though I was an intern, everything was "no problem" and was handled quickly and correctly. I've already written about my issues with DB's HR department. Perhaps it was that we were coloring inside the line on this job, where as the T&T project was already an outlier at DB and I was out on my own doing my own stuff. Doing the stuff myself certainly keep me busier.
--ThePlaz 21:43, 30 January 2011 (EST)