A Novel Approach to Intern Recruiting from MasterCard

I hate cash.  I really do.  I almost never use it and when I do, I always wonder if those bills were used for some type of nefarious purposes before they reached my hands.  Snorting coke, tipping a stripper, handled by someone who works at the CDC and didn’t properly clean the Ebola off themselves…who knows?  It’s gross.

SONY DSCWhat’s more, it’s inconvenient.  A few years back a friend and I went to a concert at the New Orleans Arena and parked across the street at the Superdome.  They gave us our ticket and we parked, went inside, and enjoyed the show without purchasing any beverages or food cause we had already eaten.  We never looked in our wallets.  It didn’t dawn on us until we were in the throes of the parking line that we’d now have to pay cash to be let out of the Superdome or be held hostage and delay hundreds of cars behind us.  We scrambled through our purses, the seats of her car, and the floorboards — and came up $1 short.  In her wallet, she had another $1 bill that she didn’t want to part with because a friend at her job had folded it into a perfect origami flower that she kept as a good luck charm.  We had no choice though, and had to unfold that masterpiece to get out of the garage.  I guess it was lucky we had it, but that seems like a poor reason to waste a good luck charm.

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That’s right. Grandpa was a balla’ yo!

My family also tells a funny story about my grandfather returning from a vacation in the Netherlands.  He took a cab home from the airport and did not realize until the driveway that he had not changed over any of his money yet.  I think he was able to pay the fare with a credit card but had nothing but Euros to tip this poor cabbie in Shreveport, Louisiana.  This isn’t DC or NYC where you can change that on any street corner.  This would have inconvenienced that cabbie quite a bit to accept a tip in Euros.  Instead, (and luckily) grandpa remembered that he kept an emergency $20 bill in a hidden compartment on the gas cap of his beloved faux-wood-paneled Buick Roadmaster station wagon/land yacht.  The cabbie waited in the driveway while grandpa had to get into the garage and fish out a $20 bill that had been in the gas cap for God knows how long and probably smelled of petrol enough to give the cabbie a headache.  See?  Cash is gross and inconvenient.

That’s why, when I read an article on Ryan Estis’ blog about MasterCard Worldwide and saw they were holding an internship contest around the idea of a cashless society, my eyes lit up IMMEDIATELY.   College students in the US, Canada, Italy, Turkey, China and Singapore will be developing ideas that might be implemented and lessen the need for gnarly paper money and stupid little coins.  Some people gripe about Big Brother.  Whatever.  I say bring it on!!  I can’t wait till I can pay for stuff with my retinas – and I bet these kids are going to have some GREAT IDEAS!

Add my bank balance and we have a deal.

Add my bank balance and we have a deal.

In the spirit of learning more about this global internship contest and how a huge corporation like MasterCard Worldwide runs their internships, I reached out.  Cut to – my teeny little blog here got an interview with Jen Cowan in HR at MasterCard!

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Here’s our chat.  Jen’s responses about #internswanted are in BOLD.

How did you select the 6 countries?  Are those where the major MasterCard offices are located or were there other considerations? The six countries were not selected as much as they were the first to express interest in recruiting interns through this innovative social campaign method.

What do you prioritize in selecting interns?  Creativity?  Grades?  What is in the mind of the selection committee or individual during this process?   Overall, we like to see a well-rounded applicant. Our requirements are 3.0 GPA or higher, leadership experience, volunteer experience and demonstration of a work/life balance.  All of these characteristics fall within MasterCard’s vision, mission and values.

Internships will be held in areas of emerging payments, technology, marketing, issuer management and product management.  Apart from their major, how do you decide which team to place someone with?  The interviewing process gives us the opportunity to learn more about the students and what their interests are. From there, the students interview with the team to see if there is good fit.

We’ve all heard HR horror stories of interns being tasked with not much more than fetching coffee and dry-cleaning.  This sounds like a much more immersive process.  What is a typical day like in the life of a MasterCard intern?  We provide our interns with real life work experience.  Our interns will work on real projects.  At the end of the day, they can see how their efforts helped MasterCard as a whole.

Obviously the interns benefit from putting this experience on their resume and learning new skills and technologies in the corporate workforce.  What does MasterCard receive in turn from the interns?  The internship program provides us the opportunity to look at potential full time applicants.  We use this program as a 10 week job interview to see if the intern would be a good fit for their group and MasterCard.

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This is the 3rd year that #internswanted has taken place, but the first year it’s gone global.  Why now?  Do you think including Millenials in Asia and Europe will give different viewpoints about the need for cashless societies?  We have seen such success with the campaign in Canada that we wanted to expand into other areas. This provides the opportunity to consider different parts of the business and different skillsets.

Are there any plans to expand to South America, Africa or Australia in the coming years? Yes, these would be locations to consider in the coming years.

Is there anything that was done in the first years that’s been changed or deleted?  Lessons learned from those programs that will make year 3 the best yet?  In the past, we asked a very broad question for the applicants to answer for the creative submission. This year, we are asking a very specific question.  From this, we should see some very exciting and creative submissions.

This process has been described as a 10 week job interview.  There are approximately 5 winners in each country, right?  Of those 30, how many do you estimate will be offered full-time employment with MasterCard upon graduation? If you come in and work hard, there are potential opportunities for full-time employment for post-graduation.  Depending on business need, we will be able to determine our full-time offers. Stefan from Canada is a great example.  He went through the program and is now a full-time employee.

Universally important.

Universally important.

What does an intern need to do to really shine and guarantee a job offer during those 10 weeks? To stand out at MasterCard, ask lots of questions, network, be well prepared, thought-provoking and punctual.

The application process includes a cover letter, resume’ and a creative/problem-solving element.  “Applicants are asked to submit an idea for a product, system, app or techniques that can help people go cashless in the future. Successful candidates will validate their application through social media using #internswanted— the more likes and retweets, the better the chances for success.”  Once selected, does the intern get to work on their idea at all or will they solely be working on other projects?  At this time, the interns will be working on business specific needs that have already been identified.

I’m sure a lot of ideas the students have are creative, but not ultimately feasible.  Do you encourage “out of the box” ideas or is MasterCard more focused on practicality? The #internswanted campaign provides us the opportunity to find those diamonds in the rough that are out of the box thinkers. The more creative the better.

What is the best advice you can give to an applicant to be successful in applying for this internship?  Think BIG and think outside the box. You have the opportunity to show MasterCard why you should be one of our summer interns.  Take the all the time you need to put your submission together. Be creative and have fun! If you have questions, reach out to the LinkedIn group for questions. We are here to help!

What is the best advice you can give to a winner to be successful during the internship? For any intern, I suggest being open-minded. Be open to feedback, ask a lot of questions and network as much as you can. You never know who may be looking for a full-time hire.

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This sounds like a fun program and I’m sure the winners will be glad to participate.  I was so thrilled to get to do this interview and it was very kind of them to answer my questions.  I am incredibly grateful.

There is more information at MasterCard’s website.  Even if you don’t plan to enter, the videos are cute.  I recommend them highly.

The US deadline for entry was April 7th.  The other countries will be accepting applications soon.  If you know a student in one of these other countries, I would encourage them to apply!  It will be great on a resume, it sounds like they’ll learn a lot, and if they can help the world go cashless then godspeed!!

Many thanks to @MasterCardNews, @CashCowan and @MasterCardBecca for their assistance and to @RyanEstis for that original blog post!

jen cowan

Jen Cowan is MasterCard’s Campus Program Manager tasked with identifying top innovators for their College Programs. In addition to campus recruitment, Jen is helping to shape the social media platform for HR and recruiting.  In her spare time, she is an avid tweeter, non-profit social media consultant, shopper and Food Network Groupie.

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