Fit In! (At the right time and in the right way)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Five weeks ago, I moved to Boulder, Colorado from Minneapolis, Minnesota to start my MBA summer internship as an LDRP Summer Associate at Medtronic Surgical Technologies. Make no mistake. A summer internship is a three month long interview. You need to be on top of your game for 90 days in order to receive a job offer at its conclusion. You are being evaluated on cultural fit, team collaboration, enthusiasm, initiative, work ethic, intelligence, skill set, diversity of thought, and leadership potential. With that said, there is certainly a place and time for fun – but the organization’s culture dictates what is allowed.

A workplace’s culture dictates the amount of fun that can be had in the office. I’ve worked at companies on both extremes. At Craig Hospital the motto was “work is play.” Neck ties and tucked in shirts were frowned upon and everyone was encouraged to dress up for Halloween.  The President and Directors of the hospital would dress in drag a shocking amount days. The organizational structure was flat – there was little power distance between the Senior Leadership Team and employees throughout the organizational chart. Nursing techs would question the President’s latest business decision openly. Morning coffee chats between employees were encouraged.

Medtronic’s culture tends toward a “work hard, play hard” environment. My first day at my internship, I was having a work related discussion with a colleague who offered to take me out to lunch to continue our conversation. The following week, I was speaking with two members of my team about a project who recommended that we continue our conversation at happy hour. A colleague captured the environment succinctly when she said, “We put our heads down and we work hard when we are here. When 5:00pm or even 4:30pm hits, we race to the mountains, a brewery, or to our families. At this office, we are efficient at our desks.”

Cultural fit is a very important aspect of the internship process. The GBCC at Carlson, MBA On-Campus recruiters, and alumni at your target company can give you insight into the culture at your target companies so that you can put your best self forward for your interview and during your internship. Of course, companies are looking for top-notch candidates in terms of scholastic aptitude and business acumen – but you have to fit in too!