In January, I wrote a blog post about WesTrek, a 3-day trip to the Bay Area hosted by the Tech Club. Accompanied by 140 other HBS students, we explored various big tech, startup, and VC companies. At the time, I was considering whether an internship in San Francisco was the right choice for me.
Seven months later, I find myself living in San Francisco and riding to work in the back of a self-driving car.
The Internship Search
My internship search consisted of blindly trusting the advice that “the coolest internship postings pop up in April.” This guidance could not have been more accurate – April rolled around, and, like clockwork, so did an internship opportunity at Cruise, a self-driving car company (hence my futuristic commute). After a week, I realized I wanted to work in San Francisco at a tech startup with a socially conscious mission. Cruise met all of my job search criteria. They are building all-electric, zero-emissions autonomous cars with the mission of making our cities safer and more sustainable with every ride.
The Internship Experience
I’m on the Go-To-Market team, responsible for preparing for our commercial launch and improving the favorability of our brand within the San Francisco community. Originally my job was to develop a community partnerships strategy, but like a role at any growing startup, it quickly expanded to include various mission-critical projects.
Coming from an incumbent CPG company, it was a significant change working at a pre-revenue startup. For example, in my pre-MBA role, producing a video entailed big budgets and an entire agency team to help coordinate the shoot day. At Cruise, creating a video involved my acting as both the client and the production company, from writing the brief to prepping our co-founders for interviews. There was no precedent since it was the first video we’ve shot inside our headquarters. Thankfully, it turns out I enjoy the scrappy, flexible nature of the job.
One of the best parts of my experience has been getting to experience situations we studied in Leadership, and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) play out in real-time. The CMO and head of my team have been at Cruise for less than a year, and since our department is so new, we are working on building a sustainable culture through team design. In fact, three teammates have joined since I started in June! Determining the best processes to work cross-functionally with the engineering organization has been an exciting aspect of my internship. I feel excited by Cruise’s mission and the impact I could make on the business in just 11 weeks. I learned that I love the constantly evolving nature of tech and the seemingly endless stream of challenges that need tackling when working at a quickly growing company.
Summer in San Francisco
I have had plenty of time outside of work to explore the area. There is so much to do in San Francisco. It has been incredible to be able to hike, kayak, and enjoy the outdoors. Big Sur, Napa, and Lake Tahoe are easy weekend trips, and even on weeknights, I can run to the Golden Gate Bridge or walk the Lands’ End trail. We have a pretty big contingent of HBS students and partners out here this summer – 18 from my section alone! After spending a year together in our designated classroom, Aldrich 107, we all really feel like a family. Having people I have become so close with here has definitely made me feel more comfortable living in a new city. We’ve gone to Giants games, tanned in Dolores Park, and enjoyed dinner at a classmate’s parents’ home in Palo Alto. On August 1, my classmates even went to Nightlife at Cal Academy because Cruise sponsored the event. Overall, this summer has been quite a ride (no pun intended). I used my internship to live in a new city and work in a new industry. I’m glad WesTrek convinced me to take a risk and that my first year at HBS prepared me to thrive while doing it.