by Hunter Stahl, MBA ’23
When I applied to MIT Sloan, I loved that the application didn’t emphasize what I wanted to do after Sloan, because truthfully, I had no idea. I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare world, and I saw MIT Sloan as a unique and incredible opportunity to explore potential roles and industries in one of the metropolises of biotech and digital health.
I would not recommend the career journey that I took in my first year – because it was high effort and often lacked conviction – but you can learn from my experience as I show you ways to explore a range of opportunities in a short period of time with a more tailored approach.
Before diving into recruiting, I took advice from an MIT Sloan alumni and defined my “north stars” of recruiting – the three characteristics I cared most about in an internship. For me, these were: healthcare, location, and people. From there, I put together a map of every industry I knew existed in the healthcare ecosystem – from digital health to venture capital to consulting – and eliminated any industries that I knew I was not interested in.
This left a few too many categories, more than I’d like to admit, including but not limited to: Big Tech, Healthtech, Digital Health, Biotech, Start-Ups, Venture Capital, Private Equity, MedTech and some variations of the list.
In true MIT fashion, I decided to put the motto “mens et manus” – which means mind and hand – to work. I took my targeted brainstorm (“mind”) and put it into practice (“hand”) by pursuing internship roles. The opportunities I took advantage of my first year included:
- Product Management Lab: In the spring, there is a course called “Digital Product Management” which includes a lab over IAP. During this lab, students are matched with a host company and have the opportunity to intern with them for a month. For me, this was an incredible opportunity to gain course credit while gaining exposure to both the product management world and start-up world. I was paired with a social determinants of health start-up, “N1 Health” and worked with their head of product to define their productization strategy.
- In-Semester Internship: Through an opportunity in the CDO, I chose to pursue a venture capital internship with Binney Street Capital – the venture capital arm of Dana Farber – focused on accelerating early-stage and in-house research. This was a great way to learn key principles of venture capital and work with innovative and upcoming early-stage biotechs. For international students that are not able to pursue in-semester internships, MIT Sloan offers a course in the second year to enable in-semester work.
- Independent Study: In the spring, I had an opportunity to work with Professor Fleming on an independent study focused on biotech trends as they relate to venture capital. This was a great way to learn from an expert in the field and to grow my network within the space.
Now that I had gained exposure to two small companies in the early-stage and start-up world, I knew I wanted to do something a bit larger for the summer. I interviewed with over 12 companies including the following:
- Big Tech, Product Management
- MedTech, Corporate Development
- Healthtech, Product Management
- Digital Health, Innovation
- Biotech, Insights and Strategy
- Biotech, Rotational Program
Every time I received an offer, I would go back to my north stars to determine whether this opportunity was something that I should take. I would ask myself “is this in the location that I want?”, “could I see myself working with this team?”, and “will I be driving change in the healthcare space?”. Ultimately, I chose to pursue a commercial strategy role at Biogen in Cambridge – as it hit all of my north stars and as a bonus, was focused on neurology and rare diseases, which just so happen to be a passion area of mine.
Going through this process, here are some of my major lessons learned:
- Follow Your North Stars: There are many opportunities available, and it can be confusing at times to decide whether to take an internship. Creating a framework like three north stars to pressure test if a role fits your goals was invaluable in this process.
- Find What Excites You: At MIT Sloan, there are certain roles and companies that generate a lot of hype – but just because there’s excitement around a role does not mean that it’s the right one for you. There’s no right answer when it comes to recruiting, and it can be challenging not to fall into the trap of focusing on what everyone else is doing rather than what you are personally excited about.
- You Learn A Lot from Interviews: The best way for me to weed out companies and roles was through interviewing with them. Having the in-person conversation to imagine what it would be like clarified if something would be a good fit.
- You Learn Even More from Internships: Nothing compares to a lived experience. While three internships in my first year was a big undertaking, it taught me more than I could have imagined about what I like and dislike about various industries and roles.
- Some of the Best Opportunities Come From the MIT Ecosystem: Many of the “best” internship opportunities are never posted on LinkedIn. Leaning on your classmates to hear about their summer internship experience or reaching out about opportunities posted can be a great avenue to find hidden gems of opportunities.
If you’d like to connect, I can be reached at email@example.com.
Hunter Stahl is a 2nd year MBA; she interned at N1 Health as a Product Management Intern, Binney Street Capital as a Venture Capital Fellow, and Biogen as a Commercialization Intern.