The Mastercard Internship: start early, focus your efforts, embrace company culture

Andrea Horak (MBA2021)

Having wrapped up my summer internship, TMC asked me to reflect on my experience and my learnings. Below, I give three tips on getting ready for recruitment, and share my experience with Mastercard this summer.


Building to Recruitment

Be Intentional

One of the most unifying experiences for any MBA applicant is ruminating, writing, and iterating on those dreaded short-term and long-term goals – they need to be realistic, yet ambitious… but not too ambitious, because they need to be achievable.

But once you get to the programme, it’s all about broadening your horizons, being open to every new career opportunity, and attending approximately 1 million different career events. It’s so easy to get swept up in that exploration phase that you either (1) avoid taking action on any one opportunity because you face decision paralysis, or (2) end up applying to everything under the sun and become way too stretched once you start interviewing, often getting stuck investing time in preparing for jobs you care less about.

While I am absolutely guilty of being one of those people who went to every career event I could, I still managed to give myself a sense check along the way to make sure I was pursuing opportunities that would interest me or be a good fit.

Be Early

My biggest recommendation for any incoming MBA student starting their internship or full-time career search – use that focus to start early.

Intentionality helps you maintain a level of clarity that allows you to plan and make decisions ahead of recruiting season, which helps set you apart. At the peak of recruiting, all of your school’s alum will be inundated with LinkedIn messages, which means that you may not get a response from them. But if you start your search and your outreach as early as possible, you’re likely to get more traction.

Be Targeted

In my case, I discovered fairly early on that Mastercard was my first choice for a number of reasons – the immediate draw being their culture and their ethos of “doing well, by doing good”. Having come from 7 years of non-profit work, I wanted experience at a large corporation in the for-profit sector, but one that understood the benefits of inclusive growth and built it into their business model.

Knowing this early on, I looked out for club events or presentations in the autumn that would have representation from Mastercard (e.g. through TMC, Social Impact Club, or Women in Business). This allowed me to speak to some Mastercard employees in person well before the company came to LBS to kick off recruiting season in January, giving me touch points to follow up on and build relationships from.

It also allowed me to calmly do my research about the company’s operations, understand their values/culture, and gain insights into a number of their interesting projects – all which comes through and helps set you apart during the application and interview process.


My Mastercard Experience

Come the start of the internship, like many of us this year, we faced new obstacles of a shortened and virtual experience. That said, Mastercard never made us feel like it was an abridged experience, and carefully selected projects for the interns that would be impactful for both us and the company.

In my case, I was assigned to the Government Engagement team, where my project focused on driving government outreach in Middle East and Africa on the issue of digital financial inclusion. By looking across country trends, conducting government and stakeholder analyses, identifying entry mapping strategies and assessing business case opportunities, I worked on developing a digital financial inclusion government engagement toolkit for global application. The toolkit focused on creating a compelling case for digital financial inclusion and generating long-term partnerships with governments on advancing digital infrastructures to benefit governments, businesses, citizens, and residents alike.

While I had previous experience in financial inclusion, this project pushed me in many ways. I needed to understand the revenue opportunity/business case for Mastercard, the full technological ecosystem necessary to drive inclusive growth, and the deep expertise that Mastercard brings both at the strategic level from being a convener of public-private partnerships but also at the tactical level when identifying and developing the digital infrastructure needed to deliver on inclusive growth.

From my experience, the breadth and depth that Mastercard covers in the tech and payments space made it a fascinating company to explore and work for, and the culture immediately drew me in.


Final Thoughts

For those who decide to pursue the opportunity next year, I’d fully recommend the programme and would suggest maximising the experience by not only diving into your project but also reaching out to people across the organisation and regions while there. Everyone I asked made the time to connect, no matter their seniority level, and it provided a great window into understanding the number of initiatives being worked on – from digital identity work, to Covid relief efforts, to open banking and so much more.


Andrea Horak

MBA2021, London Business School

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