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Summer Internship Spotlight: Matthew Connelly, (MBA’22): Cigna

Each year, our students spend their summers in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the world working in corporate, nonprofit, and government organizations. Meet a few of our graduate and undergraduate students in our 2021 Summer Internship Spotlight series.

Matthew Connelly, (MBA’22)

Summer Associate, Cigna

Matthew Connelly

Tell us about your summer.

My internship was virtual, so I enjoyed the summer in DC! The silver lining to a virtual internship was my fellow MBAs were also remote interning. We enjoyed Saturday Nats games, a weekend away in Harpers Ferry, summer concerts at the Wharf – I was really sold that DC is a place I could enjoy after graduation and working full time.  

How did your internship relate to your professional or personal interests?

I arrived at McDonough as a career switcher after working in creative advertising for four years. As I reflected on what I enjoyed the most in my career, it was leading teams within agencies, solving problems, and driving clear value for a business. On a similar note, I’m passionate about my own health having the privilege to play sports through college and continuing to compete in triathlons and marathons. Working in healthcare allows me to marry my professional and personal passions.

This summer confirmed that I not only want to stay in healthcare, but I am passionate about the work and opportunities in the industry to bring real value to people’s lives.

How did you find the internship?

I was focused on finding Leadership Development programs with a strong track record of developing senior/middle managers at Fortune 500 companies. I came across the posting for Cigna on the MBA Exchange website.

What’s the most interesting or impactful thing you did or worked on?

At the high-level, starting a new job virtually was a challenge. Even more specifically, my project was an initiative from the CMO and would require input across Cigna’s marketing team – and this team represents a 70,000+ organization!

Having worked in an agency, I love knocking on doors, walking around the building and meeting people, figuring out teams and how people work together, etc. However I wouldn’t have that luxury for my internship. I didn’t let it stop me from bringing my full value to the company. I held a virtual workshop with my managers, where I posted sticky notes on my studio apartment wall, connecting different names and departments to our project – beyond what was visible from an org chart. After hours of video chats, excel flow charts, and countless meetings with our creative ad agency, I provided a plan to management to successfully launch the project.

Was your internship adjusted because of COVID-19? 

I was fully remote, as everyone else was on my team.

What did a typical day look like?

There really was no typical day, but a few common occurrences that I can touch on.

A big part of MBA summer internships is networking, particularly if you want to receive a return offer. I would spend the mornings prepping for a virtual coffee chat I had for the day. I always liked to come prepared with a general understanding and questions. Whenever I had a break between meetings, I would spend time reading industry news or diving into Cigna’s earnings or internal strategy presentations.

The leadership development program has a focus on learning about healthcare, so we had quite a few segments focused on that. Other than that, I was doing research for my project, discussing the work with senior stakeholders, and navigating my way around the company.

Any advice for other students?

You’ll sharpen your quantitative skills during your first year, but don’t underestimate how important interpersonal skills are to employers. I found that building relationships, albeit in a short time and all in a virtual setting, was key to the success of my internship.

Summer Spotlight Series