Q&A with Tim Kraft
MBA Candidate '15
Lead Financial Analyst Intern, AT&T
Q. What led to your AT&T internship?
A. A few factors enabled me to get my foot in the door at AT&T. Being persistent and showing up at each career event AT&T attended—both on and off campus—certainly helped. It was important to get my face in front of AT&T’s recruiters. I wanted to ensure that when they reviewed resumes and discussed candidates, they knew who I was—and that I had a demonstrated interest in their executive development programs. Since I was attempting to transition into finance (with a noticeable dearth of financial experience on my resume), the orientation seminars provided excellent instruction on ways to leverage the experience I did have when speaking with recruiters.
Q. Which internship program are you doing at AT&T? What are your responsibilities?
A. I’m in the Financial Leadership Program (FLP). There are two segments: One is the internship; the other is the full-time rotational program. The internship functions as a trial period to allow you to get to know the company, some of FLP’s current participants, and finance executives while simultaneously giving AT&T the opportunity to review your work product and how you fit with the culture. Over the summer, I’ve been responsible for building revenue and cost projection models for AT&T’s Business Solutions Unit to describe the impact of a nationwide infrastructure redesign. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
Q. Tell us about the best part of your internship.
A. The best part is the exceptional quality of the people I’m working with. My colleagues have a great sense of humor and keen analytical skills. It’s a non-competitive atmosphere that enables me to think through a model’s problems, ask others for input, and have some fun throughout my day. I enjoy feeling like my internship adds something to the team and to AT&T, as opposed to feeling pressured to compete for a limited number of full-time opportunities. It’s also a blast being so close to New York City, without the Manhattan rents.
Q. What advice would you give MBA students about the internship process?
A. For incoming MBA students, I’d recommend that you get started as soon as possible, be yourself, and refuse to get discouraged. If you get started early, you have the opportunity to develop a relationship with the company, connect on LinkedIn with its recruiters, and cultivate a greater quantity of possibilities for yourself. The first semester is tough, but the time you invest in your summer internship hunt will yield dividends. Also, be you. Your summer internship may or may not lead to a blossoming career. But if you’re going to spend three months with a company, you might as well discover if the company has a culture where you can be happy and, by extension, do your best work. Lastly, it can be discouraging when companies are not calling you back, no one has asked you to interview, and you realize it’s spring. Take heart! Keep sending out resumes, using the Career Services Office, and reaching out to firms. Even if only 1–2% of all the resumes you send out yield an interview, it only takes one company to offer you a position.
Q. What’s something you learned during your first year as an Illinois MBA student?
A. The incredible value of a team, and to take the classes that seem really tough. Each of my teammates was incredibly brilliant, offering a unique perspective that taught me a lot about how others perceive certain threats and opportunities or how to model multiple stock returns. I learned that the aggregated value of each person’s perspective is far greater than mine alone. Lastly, take the hard classes. Quantitative Methods in Finance (QMF) and Game Theory were difficult, but what I learned has proven to be exceptionally valuable in my internship—and in my life.