SGE Experience Shares Similarities with Extreme Blue Internship

by Brandon Frankel, MBA ‘13 (8/6/12)

Brandon Frankel, MBA ‘13

My summer was spent building and pitching new technology for IBM with a team of engineers as part of the IBM Extreme Blue internship program.

A major component of IBM’s Extreme Blue internship program is getting to know the other interns. Therefore, my internship started with multiple welcoming events including a North Carolina style barbeque and a ropes course challenge. My Durham, NC location has five intern teams with four members each – three engineering students and one business school student. With no offices or cubes - just desks, white boards, movie posters and a foosball table – the Extreme Blue lab has an incubator type feel.

My team is working on building new cloud computing software. I, specifically, am working on a marketing and business plan and pricing guidelines, which will help lead our new product through the product development process at IBM. Each week we present our technical solution and business value pitch to a different VP. After each pitch the VP spends about 5-10 minutes asking us questions about our project. Each VP has taken a different approach to their questions. Johnson’s Sustainable Global Enterprise (SGE) classes, which required many presentations, and Management Cases class, have prepared me for these presentations.

In addition to working on my project this summer, I am spending a lot of time networking within IBM to learn more about the different positions within this mammoth company. I always knew Johnson had a strong alumni base that I would need to rely upon at some point in my career, and this summer has confirmed that. I have contacted dozens of Johnson graduates who have been both willing and eager to call me. Along with sharing their career history, Johnson alumni have put me in touch with other IBM’ers who have interests similar to mine.

My summer will end with a trip to IBM headquarters in Armonk, NY. Along with the rest of the North American interns, my team will present our pitch and participate in an Expo where we will share our project with IBM’ers from all different departments. In addition there will be a career fair and multiple social events where many IBM executives will be present.

My summer project at IBM shares many similarities with the SGE project I completed in May. For example, my team, just like my SGE team, has non-MBA students. I believe that this is important because it forces me to view the problem from a different point of view and adjust my style to effectively influence the group towards a more complete answer. Similar to my SGE project, my team must create a poster with our project problem and solution. Having gone through this process just a few months earlier I am able to create effective visuals describing a complex solution. Moreover, both my summer project and SGE project focused on identifying revenue opportunities for a new piece of technology so I was able to quickly jump into my market research this summer.

This summer has not been completely about work, there has been lots of fun outside of the office. Although it reaches almost 100 degrees daily, fellow Johnson student Bret Collazzi and I have managed to play weekly tennis matches in the evening and catch a Cornell baseball game at UNC.  Since I am from the Northeast and have not spent much time in the South, I am taking advantage of the opportunity to get to know the region – exploring the Triangle area, going to the beach, and taking road trips to Charleston, S.C. and Asheville, NC.

Overall, this summer has allowed me to take a step back from school, fine tune my career search, and focus on my goals after graduation.