My WorldRemit Internship Experience: Finding secular trends that matter to you
Ricardo Martinez (MBA2021)
Ten years from now, what trend will seem totally normal to you and make you think, “wow...I wish I took part in making this a reality?”
Your MBA internship is a license to find that trend that matters to you and be part of its evolution.
My WorldRemit Experience
A trend that I found fascinating was the digitization of financial services in emerging markets. Most of us can’t fathom paying a pub bill with cash, or walking to Boots to receive a money transfer. While neo-banks such as Transferwise and Revolut have become part of our everyday life, 90% of remittances last year were still cash-to-cash (granted, that was pre-Covid…).
Supporting WorldRemit’s digital strategy in Latin America fit right in with being part of this trend’s evolution. While remittances may not be as sexy as neo-banks, they represent an integral part of the economy of emerging markets.
During the past couple of months, I supported WorldRemit’s business development team to find product-market fit in the Americas, form partnerships with leading fintechs, and develop a go-to-market strategy for new corridors.
Along the way, I learned something new about remittances on a daily basis. I’ll leave you with my favourite fun facts:
● The US to Mexico remittance corridor is worth more than $36bn p/year. That’s more than the annual revenue of ~80% of FTSE 100 companies!
● There are 1,100+ fintech startups in Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Chile. While consolidation is bound to happen, the industry is still growing immensely YoY
● The WorldBank expects remittances to fall by 20% this year (that’s ~90bn) as a result of Covid. As with most catastrophes, the pandemic will disproportionately affect the bottom billion(s)
Like a 5-page restaurant menu, the sea of opportunities that LBS offers makes finding your trend(s) extremely difficult. Once you find it, it becomes even harder to chase it with conviction, as it gets challenged by glitzier opportunities that your peers obtain, or by falling into the valley of despair. Here are a few tips that helped me in my journey.
Have a POV
The easiest way to stay loyal to your chosen trend(s) is to have a thesis on what they are, why they matter, and how they will evolve. Continue iterating on your POV - your baseline knowledge will compound with learnings from lectures, podcasts, and conversations.
Publicizing your thoughts about your trends (e.g. Substack, Medium, Twitter) takes it to the next level, as you’ll start being viewed as an ‘expert’ in your areas of interest. It serves as inbound marketing, attracting the attention of industry insiders that can lead to opportunities. Sweat equity is a much more valuable tool than waiting for people to read your resume or respond to your cold emails/Linkedins. Building an online presence will make you reputable (increasing your perceived candidate value), while lowering your target company’s perceived risk of mis-hiring.
Block the Noise
It is natural to become excited by the opportunities that your peers obtain, or their perspective on your areas of interest. In those moments, it is essential to distinguish why those new opportunities interest you. Is it something that you hadn’t thought of, where you could see yourself building a meaningful career? Or is it something that sounds prestigious, and will make you seem cool to your friends?
On the one hand, we are here to explore different career choices, and it’s expected (and good!) to challenge what you think you want to be doing. But on the other hand, it’s crucial to make sure you are not shifting your perspective for the wrong reason.
Nothing is more frustrating than working for something and failing to see results. We will all face setbacks during recruiting - bombed interviews, rejection emails, or even rescinded offers (thanks Covid!). No matter how badly you wanted something that fell through, there are incredible opportunities right around the corner.
A setback can turn into an unforeseen opportunity to acquire skills that can disproportionately improve your profile. Similarly, when faced with a choice of opportunities, I’d argue that myopic factors (i.e. salary, location) should be deprioritized in expense for filling in your perceived skill gaps. Your internship can be a simple way to amplify what you bring to the table as a candidate, yielding a better outcome in the long-run.
Having a point-of-view, blocking the noise, and thinking long-term helped me land what’s been a fulfilling internship so far. In retrospect, I think that if I had focused on those points initially, I would have approached the internship process with less stress and more confidence.
Remember that everyone’s path is different, and what works for some, may not fare well with others. Don’t be afraid to chase unconventional paths - this may be the last period of your life where you will have complete freedom to do whatever you want.
For some, that may be landing a dream internship, but for others, that may be launching a startup, or simply taking time off. Invest the time to get to know what you really want. Ten years from now, you’ll thank yourself!
PS: For more tactical advice, this was the best internship-hunt article I came across, from one of our most successful alumni in tech :)
MBA2021, London Business School
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