Monday, February 27, 2012

Good Guys Finish First?

Tarak Shah, RBS '12, shows us that getting exactly what you want out of an RBS MBA is 100% possible. Is it easy? No. Can MBA's learn something from him? Yes. The affable Tarak tells us what it took to get obtain a summer internship and full time offer from a Fortune 50 Company.

Quick Facts

  • Born & raised in Chicago
  • Undergrad: Northwestern (Engineering & Economics)
  • Masters: UPenn (Bio-Tech)
  • Work Experience: Automation Engineer at Merck, Scientist at Abbott Labs
  • MBA: Rutgers Business School ‘12
  • Selected to join the ECLDP (Experienced Commercial Leadership Development Program) at Johnson&Johnson

Why an MBA?

I really enjoyed the scientific track and enjoyed the work, but felt I could do more and make more of an impact in the commercial side of pharmaceuticals, and I saw that getting an MBA was necessary to cross over into the commercial side. Rutgers was a great fit because of its reputation in the industry, its placement record, and its location in the backyard of the industry.

Why J&J & ECLDP?

It was my target company, and my wife works there, and Johnson & Johnson believes in family values. It’s a global leader, with products, solutions, and devices that solve healthcare needs around the world. It has a wide range of career development opportunities and resources, and I saw that first hand with my wife: she’s gained diverse experiences in such a short time. The ECLDP is designed for MBAs to be placed within J&J’s operating company, Janssen, towards becoming future leaders there. It’s rotational across different business areas, and provides two 1-year rotations in these areas, followed by a return to Janssen Therapeutics in an in-line marketing (brand management) position.

What were some of the key highlights of your internship?

There were so many highlights that ranged from having a 1-on-1 with Janssen’s CFO to meeting HIV patients. From a personal perspective, my final presentation was a key highlight. I practiced so much for my presentation, and knew it was going to be a defining moment for my career. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it, but after those 10 minutes were over, it felt great! I gave it my all this past summer (and then some), and this presentation and my project were well received. I am proud of that moment.

Can you describe the interview process? How was it (the interview) structured? Did it focus on behavioral questions?

The process is INTENSE. There is so much involved and so much you have to do. The second round was a multi day event with interviews, speakers, and networking, all a test to see if you were a good fit. You can’t let your guard down the entire time, you have to connect, be engaged, be likeable, and you’ve got to demonstrate to the J&J team that you are a future leader for their organization. The last day was for interviews, and my first interview of the day was with the President of Janssen. I was also interviewing for the Ortho Clinical Diagnostics CLDP internship at the same time, so I interviewed for two positions at once. Normal candidates have 3 interviews, and I had 5, all in one day! The interviews were mostly behavioral and there was a case study-workshop that was tied to an ethical issue.

Within your concentration, what class best prepared you for your summer position?

Brand management provided useful knowledge for the internship. Even though my project was in digital media, it brought in brand management elements: how to build brand association and portfolio recognition, engage with your stakeholders, and resonate with customers.

Outside of coursework, what prepared you for your summer position?

I did a lot of independent research, and it took a lot of personal initiative to reach out to those at J&J, and within that, those who were RBS alumni. I met with as many of them as I could and asked them how I could maximize my experience.

What was your attitude throughout the process?

Companies are envisioning future product managers – they want to see you embody elements that they want to see. You need to execute from Day 1. You need to do your job, but also perform at the other elements of the internship (networking, extra projects, etc). In a large company like J&J, there is so much going on, and you need to be involved and show that you can manage your time effectively and perform.

Checklist for to successfully obtain an MBA Internship

  • Know the company & understand their business
  • Know their products very well
  • Know yourself; know how to leverage your strengths & weaknesses
  • Get in touch as early as possible with people at the companies you want to work for
  • Practice elevator pitch
  • Practice behavioral questions, as most MBA interviews are of this nature; take the initiative to find web examples and practice answering them

How to NOT be invited back for a full time offer

  • Be arrogant
  • Arrive unprepared and aren’t ready to learn
  • Not open to criticism/feedback
  • Piss off your manager!
  • Do not remain professional throughout the entire summer
  • Assume you’ll get a full time offer (the internship is a 10 week interview not a guarantee)


  1. Great article! I really enjoyed Tarak's honest answers. Clearly his initiative and strategic approach to networking was critical in earning a full-time offer with a great company like Johnson & Johnson.

  2. What an inspiring story! Thank you Tarak for sharing and thanks to Matt for putting this together. Great job guys!

  3. Very cool how Tarak used his MBA to extend his career in new directions. Good luck!