Wayfair’s MBA Summer Internship Experience

By Rachel Seavey, CDO Assistant Director, Employer Relations & Recruiting
Featuring Phillip Marmolejo (MIT Sloan MBA ’23)

On Monday, August 8th, I visited the Wayfair HQ office in Boston on behalf of the CDO to gain a firsthand glimpse into the summer internship experience for MIT Sloan MBA students.

Wayfair HQ in Boston

Wayfair’s main office rests on the 3rd floor of the Copley Mall. Although modest on the outside, the Wayfair office space spans 7 floors, holding up to 20,000 employees in an open-floor plan. Each floor has distinctively decorated lounges, reading nooks, and kitchens, with light fixtures and furniture sourced directly from their website. The space is comfortably staffed, with employees working three days in the office, and two days remote.

Kayon Ellis, MIT Sloan’s Wayfair recruiting contact and former MIT Sloan Admissions staff member, gave me a tour of the social spaces, including kitchens, a game room, a ping pong room, a yoga room, walls of private phone booths, and some of Wayfair’s most exciting perks: free snack walls, expensive coffee machines, and beer on tap, which is always available when employees need to recharge or unwind.

Kayon shared some of the company’s new initiatives, and was especially excited to highlight Wayfair’s virtual reality program, “Wayfair Next”, which allows customers to virtually design their homes using VR technology. When asked where the interns worked, Kayon shared that interns are integrated amongst their assigned teams and sit alongside their colleagues throughout the building.

The Summer Internship Experience
In 2022, Wayfair boasts their largest cohort yet – 34 MBA interns (including two from MIT Sloan) and 166 other interns ranging from the undergrad, master’s, and PhD levels.

MBA interns are placed into cross-functional groups including E-Commerce, Marketing, Operations, Marketplace (which focuses on brackets, algorithms, and analytics), Finance, and Talent. Throughout the summer, interns receive regular mentorship and professional development, in addition to invitations for events and outings planned by Wayfair’s Internship-Experience Committee – including a Red Sox game, a Duck Boat tour, happy hours, lunches, and an Innovation Sprint (where interns are presented with a Wayfair problem – such as a how to retain talent and asked to provide innovative solutions).

In their first week, interns meet with their supervisors to set goals for the summer. They touch base in week five for a “mid-point calibration,” and in week eleven, they conduct their “final point calibration.” This is intentionally designed so interns connect their workload and professional goals with Wayfair’s “People Principles”, which encourage staff to adapt and grow as well as recognize that people are always improving. Upon their final point calibration, interns receive performance feedback and receive full-time or return-internship offers.

A Look Ahead to 2022 and 2023 Hiring
While a looming recession has resulted in a hiring freeze, this has not impacted Wayfair’s fall recruiting plans or full-time offers for the summer 2022 cohort. In preparation for a possible recession, Wayfair’s recruiting team is employing “preventative not reactionary” measures for the coming year.

A Visit with Phillip Marmolejo (MIT Sloan MBA ’23)

After my tour, I attended an internship appreciation lunch as part of Wayfair’s “Farewell Week,” where interns from various teams were publicly acknowledged and thanked by Wayfair’s recruiting team. I sat down with Phillip Marmolejo, (MBA ’23) to discuss his summer internship with the Partner Operations team. Phillip described his internship as a “great experience” and claimed that “people are not just a resource for Wayfair.” His internship was a substantial career experience that helped him develop professionally. Phillip worked on a centralized operations project that identified ways to segment products by determining which products were top performers. This analysis required Phillip to leverage big data around product selection so that Wayfair can best allocate resources between higher and lower performing products.

Phillip attended weekly meetings with the Partner Operations team and received regular direction by his mentor who ensured Phillip had access to resources needed to get the job done. Phillip reiterated how employees are recognized “as people outside of Wayfair” and believed that his project contributed to his personal and professional growth. Phillip described the culture at Wayfair as “everyone is getting their job done but having fun while doing it,” complimenting Wayfair’s intentional work/life balance ethos. According to Phillip, there was no expectation to work crazy hours and life outside the office was not only recognized but celebrated.

Phillip’s internship experience at Wayfair helped him explore potential career pathways and interests. In the past, he worked with large organizations including the federal government and the oil and gas sectors but wanted to explore a “growth atmosphere” within the platform side of e-commerce. Upon being asked if he would recommend Wayfair as an internship opportunity to future Sloan students, Phillip replied, “Certainly, yes!” Phillip emphasized Wayfair’s commitment to MBA interns and praised how they support them with the resources they need to succeed. He also appreciated the transparency in Wayfair’s recruiting process and that the company wanted to get to know him as a person as well as potential talent.

When reflecting on the summer’s social activities, Phillip said his favorite moments included a Harpoon Brewery tour and a happy hour event at Clery’s that took place far enough into the summer that the intern cohort had bonded. These events allowed him to get to know his fellow interns in a casual, social setting.

Phillip’s advice for the incoming MBA class as they navigate the recruiting process?
“Take some time to think about what you want in the long-term.”

For Phillip, he pursued an opportunity that diverged from his past work experiences and although it brought some risk, he was glad that he took this path. Phillip also advised that students to think about what they truly value, and not compare yourself to what your classmates are thinking. A successful internship process requires self-reflection on your own personal values.

By MIT Sloan CDO