How the Journey Began
When I began my MBA journey, I was quite perplexed about the direction in which my career should steer. Determining what job function, role or company I should aspire to apply to during my internship search seemed like a mammoth task. The only thing I was clear about was that I wanted an entirely different work experience compared to that of my previous work experience as a data analyst. This summer internship opportunity was indispensable in exposing me to an entirely new career field and helping me foresee my career path in marketing post B-School.
To begin, several years ago, I read a biography of Elon Musk and got to know some of his great companies: PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla. I was amazed about how he came up with those brilliant ideas and changed peoples’ lives. I never expected that after completing my first year of MBA studies at the Rady School of Management I would have the chance to work for PayPal, one of the world's largest internet payment companies.
The Connection and the Offer
In June, the Rady School Graduate Career Services provided me with access to an internship opportunity at PayPal by connecting me with a Rady alumna there, Sophie Xia. I talked to Sophie about my strong interest in the field of marketing, and several days later I got an internship offer from the PayPal branch in Shanghai.
It is now week six since I have joined PayPal and, trust me, it has been a fabulous journey! I have been able to make meaningful contributions on my projects that are helping me to grow personally as well as professionally. I was stretched and pulled in ways I never thought possible and my experiences at the Rady School learning how to navigate through ambiguity (in classes such as Marketing and Quantitative Analysis) prepared me well.
Summer Internship Highlights
Sophie, me and another Rady School MBA student work together in the consumer marketing team. We are a brand new team and none of us has been working more than two months at PayPal. We are also the busiest team, since we need to use every marketing channel to acquire new users and find our place in the most competitive market in the world.
Although my title is Marketing Intern, what I’m doing is much broader than marketing. I coordinate marketing campaigns with partners, verify eligible merchants to join our events, help the product team improve user experience, as well as conduct market research and analyze sales data to give recommendations on business strategy. Sometimes I have to work more than 10 hours a day to get things done. I know that sounds crazy as an intern, but I really enjoy the work I do because I feel like I’m gaining new knowledge and skills every day.
During the first two weeks of my internship I was assigned to work on several nation-wide campaigns with important partners such as China Construction Bank and China UnionPay. I had to deal with plenty of details to make sure that the campaigns would deliver our messages to over 10 million consumers through websites, email and social media. Several weeks ago I didn’t even know what EDM (Email Direct Marketing) was, but suddenly I was at the frontline of an intensive digital marketing campaign. That was a unique and exciting experience for me.
After the nation-wide campaigns were completed I was assigned work on improving our customer experience and localizing the PayPal brand. I compared PayPal with other Chinese online payment tools and wrote reports about how I felt about those products as a local user and which part of our products could be more user friendly. To complete the reports I needed to test the products many times and evaluate them with a consumer’s perspective, which made me realize the impact of a slight flaw on consumer satisfaction. The product team adopted some of my recommendations from the reports, such as simplifying the signup process and optimizing the mobile device user interface.
Currently, I’m helping our marketing director analyze monthly sales data and evaluate the performance of different merchants, which has given me a chance to show off my data processing and Excel skills. I have to admit that real data is much more complex and cruel, especially when you are trying to enter a new market. Apart from data analysis, I use my spare time to conduct independent research about industry trends, customer behavior and competitors. I like this part because I can make full use of everything I learned at the Rady School and apply it to a real business situation.
How the Rady School Prepared Me from a Rookie to a Pro
Reflecting on the skills I’ve most applied from my first year at the Rady School to my internship, I think, at a high level, it’s a structured way of thinking. I practiced this at the Rady School through a combination of strategy and marketing classes, applied strategy and marketing projects, and case interview preparation. At the Rady School I attended many career events, such as job fairs and professional seminars, where I had the chance to talk to company management and get a feel for what business operations is like inside big companies. Having never worked in an enterprise environment before, these experiences were extremely informative and inspiring.
There’s a wonderful sense of gratification in knowing that I made my first step to a new career path as a result of my first year in the Rady School’s MBA program.
Overall, it’s been amazing to be a part of this organization and I look forward to the remaining four weeks. I am excited about the contributions I have made so far and I am thrilled that I will soon be able to share details of my experience with all of you when I’m back in San Diego at the end of the summer!
Until then, just one piece of advice for other MBA students: Step out of your comfort zone and don’t hesitate to look for something new for your summer internship. It will expand your learning horizons and most likely lead you to discover something new that will absolutely be worth it.
Raymond Guo('16) is a Full-Time MBA candidate at the Rady School of Management. He is currently interning as a Marketing/Project Management Intern at a PayPal branch in Shanghai. A former data analyst in the Chinese government, Guo aims to transition his career path to the field of marketing.