Alex Messinger and David Eng
UF MBA Full-Time students Alex Messinger (left) and David Eng.

Second time’s the charm

How two UF MBA students secured new internships after losing their original opportunities due to the effects of COVID-19

Any given year, students in the UF MBA Full-Time program look forward to gaining real-world work experience as part of their summer internship between their first and second year in the program. These summer internships provide a great opportunity for students to experience working in a field they are interested in, but also serve as a way to build connections as they search for full-time jobs.

If 2020 were like any other year, Full-Time students David Eng and Alex Messinger would have started their summer internships in early May. 2020 isn’t what most would call a typical year, though. With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting every corner of the world, companies have been forced to change their internship and hiring plans. Unfortunately for Eng and Messinger, that included losing the internships they originally secured earlier in the year. 

Eng (MBA ’21) estimates he applied to at least 100 different roles in a little over two weeks after he got the call that his original internship could no longer be guaranteed.

“I scoured job boards, reached out to dozens of contacts via email, LinkedIn and phone, and was connected to a number of additional contacts,” he said. “Overall the process wasn’t particularly encouraging. Recruiters were sympathetic, but didn’t have anything. Lots of no’s across the board.”

Luckily for Eng, his 99th application came through in the form of an internship as a Summer Operations Specialist with Hanlon Acoustical Ceilings. In his role, Eng is excited to be able to use his existing skillset and background in engineering while also learning more about applying business concepts he’s learned in class to a real-world setting.

“I am very interested in the entrepreneurial world, particularly in a concept known as ‘entrepreneurship through acquisition,’ or a ‘buy then build’ approach,” he said. “Hanlon is a small-medium enterprise that was started and run as a family business for several decades before being bought by a Harvard MBA grad (now the owner/operator). Getting to work with the organization is a great insight into that world. Experiential learning is critical.”

While the process wasn’t easy, Eng is grateful for the second chance at being able to pursue a summer internship and sees the experience of losing his first internship as a lesson in looking for the silver lining. 

“The overall process was a good reminder that forces outside of our control will influence our path, perhaps more than we recognize,” Eng said. “Even the best laid plans sometimes fall apart and that’s ok. I found the UF alumni network incredibly willing to be helpful. The sense of community and network was encouraging and motivating, and I’m really appreciative of that.”

Messinger (MBA ’21), who was able to secure a new experience with the Ball Corporation in health and safety strategies after losing his original internship, echoed Eng’s call for positivity in challenging times.

“Anything can happen in your professional career,” he said. “If it’s not your fault and out of your control then there is no reason to get upset about the situation. Just push forward with vigor and things will work out.”