Matt Malenky is an MBA 2 specializing in entertainment media and strategy and is now recruiting for consulting and media. He spent his summer interning through the NYU SternWorks program, which allows Stern graduate students to receive compensation in internships that do not traditionally pay. In today’s feature, Matt shares his experience at PEN America.
By Matthew Malenky
I wanted to do a SternWorks internship for three reasons: it was new to me, it was impactful for me, and it was a lot of fun. I came to Stern to try new things, and I’d never worked in the non-profit sector before. Social impact is something that I consider with every choice I make professionally, and I jumped at the chance to make a difference directly. Lastly, it was just a lot of fun to work with a fun team of people who were brought together because they care about the same cause.
When I read my company’s description on the Stern Careers page, I knew I had to apply. A non-profit dedicated to the freedom of artistic expression? What a great mission! I let them know as much in a genuine cover letter—I figured that if anyone was going to actually read the cover letter it would be the essayists’ advocacy group, and I was right. The whole interview process was simple from that point forward, as was working with Stern.
On day one, we were all at a bit of a loss. PEN wasn’t used to working with experienced MBA interns and they weren’t exactly sure how to manage me. Likewise, I wasn’t quite sure how I could use my skills to help them, but I kept an open mind. We quickly figured out how to work: together. Instead of being managed, I came in as a partner to the team, and instead of pushing my own ideas, I listened. Together, we came up with a new way of quantifying the impact of their work and communicating it to internal and external stakeholders in a clear, concise, and visual way.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure how the SternWorks internship would fit into my post-graduation plans. I’m always down to do social impact work, but my passion is the media and entertainment industry. After I started seriously browsing the Stern careers page, though, things started to fall into place. I found PEN America, a nonprofit focused on artistic expression—score! And the work that I did with them was all about measuring the impact of their work and telling a great story about that to their stakeholders—score again. What media company isn’t concerned about accurately conveying to shareholders the impact of their pivot to digital?
If I were to advise an MBA1 or future Sternie who’s considering SternWorks, I’d tell them to go for it, but to keep these three things in mind: first, make sure you’re organized because your projects will probably be vague or have a wide scope; second, be ready to listen and learn because these folks have learned to work with a fraction of the resources we’re used to in the typical MBA stomping grounds; third, have fun and be proud of the work you’re doing. Rarely do we have unambiguous morally righteous things we get to work on in our early careers, so seize the opportunity to do just that.