T c D y n $ b 2
Interning in the Motor City with Michael, Jim, and Dwight
that her B-school
skills aren't the ones
she needs most
By COURTNEY RATKOWIAK
I'm in the Ross School of Busi-
ness. If there's one thing I've
learned in my time here, it's that if
you do it their way, you don't have
to worry about "finding" a job.
Starting the first week of your
junior year, you get a "career
tracker" poster, complete with four
thumbtacks, to help you chart your
internship-snagging progress on
your bedroom wall. You go to cor-
porate presentations, networking
events and career development
workshops. If you're a particularly
effective networker, you end up on
a company's "closed list," the VIP
party invitation of the internship
search world.If not, you go through
an on-campus interview bidding
process to secure your interviews.
Companies come to the busi-
ness school, you talk to them, they
offer you an internship. You work
there all summer, you do well and
they offer you a full-time position
after graduation - or, if the intern-
ship wasn't for you, you repeat the
internship search process with a
full-time job in mind.
expected to already have internship
experience before your junior year
search. The business school won't
help you out as a sophomore, so last
February, I started looking.
Unpaid internships were out.
"Slave labor," my parents told me.
"You're not working somewhere
that doesn't value their employees
enough to pay them."
Working somewhere far from
my hometown in Michigan was
also out. I had learned enough in
my accounting classes to know that
paying rent and eating in New York
while working a summer job would
leave me with less money in my
bank account than I started with.
SoI applied for maybe 25 intern-
ships online. I landed a few inter-
views. But in the end, I got an
internship in downtown Detroit
because I'm my dad's daughter.
The company was so large that
I rarely saw my father and never
worked with him. But it was a pleas-
ant surprise when almost everyone
pronounced my Polish last name
correctly' and a little weird when I
found out my boss once reported to
I worked in a very traditional,
corporate setting, but a lot of the
time, it felt like I was stuck in an
episode of The Office. My boss was
nicknamed "Gator" (short for "del-
egator") by the other people in the
office because he would give.me all
his work and then go to "meetings"
for the rest of the day.
While he was out, about half of
the team would go downstairs to
the massive cafeteria every morn-
ing for hour-long workplace gossip
sessions over omelets and coffee.
On one particular day, it took the
entire staff to figure out what
should be done with a cockroach
that had invaded the lobby.
"Should we scald the bug with
coffee? Should we put a recycle bin
over it and just leave it there?"
The debate went on' until a
woman from another floor walked
out and stepped on it. We didn't
get any work done until after lunch
Like in the television show,
some of the best times on the job
happened outside the office. I had
a front-row, paid-holiday spot
on Woodward Avenue when the
Detroit Red Wings brought home
the Stanley Cup. I was also at the
Red Wings rally at Hart Plaza for
Kilpatrick's classy congratulatory
comment of "the beer's on me,"
even though the boos were so loud
that I didn't know what he said
until I saw it on television.
A few co-workers took me to see
the casinos that were supposed to
help Detroit's economy. They really
were the only public places in the
city that were bustling at 11 a.m. on
a Tuesday. We took long lunchtime
walks along the riverfront, went
to street festivals and watched the
Martin Luther King High School
band in its last performance before
representing the city at the Beijing
I came into my internship think-
ing there was little hope for the city
of Detroit, that hosting the Super
Bowl two years ago didn't solve
anything and that former mayor
Kwame Kilpatrick personified the
But by the end of the summer, I
started to feel attached to a city that
I had always ignored. While others
spent their summer soaking up all
the Barack Obama or John McCain
news they could find, I became an
expert on Kilpatrick. His crimes,
jail time and court dates were hard
to ignore when city taxes were
coming out of my paycheck. I real-
ized my business internship had
somehow made me more interested
Going into this year's on-campus
recruiting season and surrounded
by over-prepared, super-ambitious
b-school students, I really am glad
I already have an internship under
my belt. My internship experience
helped me learn that an office job
doesn't have to be as dry as it often
seems during corporate presen-
tations. Sure, I used what I knew
about Microsoft Excel and inter-
preted a few financial statements.
But I learned quickly that the skill
the business school doesn't really
teach well is the one that will help
me the most coming into the junior
year internship rat race - com-
munication. Whether presenting a
proposal at a meeting or watching
another bug fall from the ceiling, I
found you just have to start with a
smile and a conversation.
You won't find veggie burgers at this So if your career plans don't involve soy patties,
Morningstar-except maybe in our caf6. We're find out how you can makea difference when we
a leading independent investment research visit your campus.
company based in Chicago's Loop with offices in 2008 Campus Visits
more than 20 countries. We hire smart, driven Engineering Job Fair: September 23
individuals united by a common passion-helping Application deadline is October23
investors make informed decisions to reach their
financial goals. LSA Job Fair: September 24
We need the best minds to create our growing Application deadline is October 6
line of software, Web sites, consulting services, Ross School of Business application deadline
and publications. Many of our most valuable is October2
employees start in the Morningstar Development
Program, which advances your talents through
training, global opportunities, and more. BusinessWeeknamed Morningstar a
Hot Growth Company in 2008.
Mlrn NINeq JAR
Maisar is an sqal appmtun employer.