Mahssa Mostajabi is a rising MBA2 and an intern on the US Consumer Digital team at Citi. Mahssa serves as the VP of Admissions for AHBBS, President of InSITE, and a host of Stern Chats. She is specializing in Business Analytics, Luxury Marketing, and Sustainable Business and Innovation.
NYU Stern’s “Summer Internship Series” sheds light into Sternies’ internship experiences. Posts are written by rising MBA2s who are currently working at their summer internship.
Upon starting at NYU last fall, I wasn’t entirely sure what path I’d take during recruiting or in which industry I’d end up. Prior to Stern, I worked in non-profits for a short time and then had a career in tech as a product manager for a few years. In my application, I wrote about wanting to marry those two fields – nonprofits and tech – by working in corporate social responsibility for a large tech company (think Google.org). And, upon getting to campus, I was somewhat swept up by the consulting rush like many of my classmates. I also had a totally unrelated interest in luxury retail. As such, there were endless possibilities. I could become a consultant, transition into social impact or the luxury space, stay in tech and product management, or some combination therein.
To manage these endless options, I took a path similar to many Sternies and tried a little bit of everything. I went through the casing bootcamp the Management Consulting Association puts on each fall. I attended knowledge management sessions hosted by the Luxury Retail club and the Stern Technology Association. I went on treks to Google and Flatiron Health. I became the AVP of Sourcing for InSITE Fellows, an organization that pairs graduate students across New York City with startup consulting projects. I joined 8 professional clubs on campus and I applied to 40+ summer internships. Needless to say, I was a little lost. But, unlike some of my peers who came to campus knowing the exact function or industry into which they wanted to transition, I came to campus knowing that I wanted to explore and try on a lot of different roles and industries to see which one I liked best.
Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to stay in tech and product management with a special focus on startups in the health, beauty, and wellness space. While I spent a lot of my year networking and making connections at these companies, I quickly realized that a summer internship would be difficult to land. Many of them don’t have traditional MBA internship programs and trying to get something ad hoc off the ground would require perfect timing and lots of luck. I still tried, but didn’t find a lot of success. In parallel, I applied to large tech and financial services companies, as I’d previously worked in FinTech. I had some more luck here and got some interviews. Through this process, I chose Citi’s Summer Management Associate program, in which MBAs are matched with a team within the company and, if they come back full-time, rotate onto two more teams before finding a VP role.
In my current internship at Citi, I work as a product manager within US Consumer Digital on our Digital Wallets team, which manages Citi’s tech and partnerships with ApplePay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Paypal. The role allowed me to stay in tech and in product management with a large, reputable company, while rounding out my knowledge of payments and growing my expertise in FinTech and financial services. While I’m still not sure where I’d like to focus long-term, this role was strategic for me in that New York’s startup environment has a large FinTech base and, with my experience at multiple small and large financial services companies, I know I’ll be able to position myself well no matter what I choose or where I go within tech, Citi or otherwise.
My path may have been a somewhat undirected and perhaps unideal, but I really enjoyed it and would do it again! We all have different goals for our MBAs. I wanted to be confident that I’d found the career I wanted to be in long-term – product management in tech – and I now have that confidence wholeheartedly. I just had to try on a few other functions and industries before knowing for sure.