Interning at Wayfair the MBwAy
By Michael Perlis, MBA 2018
If you are interested in interning at a technology company next summer, do I have the place for you. Wayfair is known for “a Zillion things home” and regarded as one of the top ecommerce retailers in the country, however, it sometimes isn’t top of mind for students seeking job opportunities in the technology space. When I started my internship search I was focused on targeted companies like Google, Amazon, Spotify, and GE. I was attending all sorts of technology events including Augmented/Virtual Reality meetups, which is where I first learned that Wayfair was more than an ecommerce furniture retailer. Mike Festa, Director of Wayfair Next, spoke about his work at Wayfair and how they were creating AR/VR technology to allow shoppers to visualize products in their own home. As I continued to research the company, I found that Wayfair is a technology company that happens to sell furniture and home décor.
I was fortunate enough to land an internship at Wayfair this summer on the Site Merchandising team, which is responsible for the customer experience by ensuring customers are able to find the products they want and have the right information in order to make a purchase online. It was a great opportunity to work in a new area for a growing technology company. Today, I want to share 5 things that made my summer at Wayfair such a great experience.
1. It All Starts With the PEOPLE and CULTURE
Wayfair has a very lively culture filled with smart, fun, and hardworking people. My team was helpful to me throughout my entire internship by answering questions, attending (multiple) meetings, and working with me to solve problems. I wasn’t just an intern this summer, I was a part of the team. In addition to my team, I was able to meet with other people from across the business. Everyone was willing to take time out of their day to talk with me, whether it was about my project or just an area I was interested in. The collaboration and comradery is evident throughout the office. The office setup allows teams to collaborate with ease and ensures that everyone in the company is approachable, including the co-founders, who also have cubicles like everyone else. One of Wayfair’s guiding principles is that “we are never done”. The teams recognize that there is always room for improvement and they take their successes (or failures) and continuously seek to make things better for their customers.
Lastly, I can’t go on without talking about how amazing our class of MBA interns were this summer. Interning is a great opportunity to build your skill set, but also allows you to build great relationships with MBA’s from other universities. We had 16 interns in our class from HBS, Columbia, Tuck, Darden, Wharton, Tepper, Fuqua, Booth, Questrom, and Babson. It was great to go through this experience together from working with each other to enjoying the great events that Wayfair provided us.
2. You Will Work on a Project That Matters
At the end of our internship all of the MBA interns presented their work. I can tell you that each and every one of us were given a project that was impactful to the company. We presented our projects to a group of leaders including the head of talent, US Direct (Wayfair.com), the COO, and others. We were given complete ownership of our projects which allowed us to showcase our abilities to lead and manage projects as well as bring a different perspective to the company. Our projects ranged from developing action plans to improve a product category to developing a scorecard to monitor performance across the business. Each project had an impact on Wayfair’s business.
3. Access to Senior Leadership
One aspect of the internship experience that surprised me was the access to senior leadership. Almost every week we had a 1-hour discussion with each of Wayfair’s senior leaders, including the Co-Founders (pictured here, Steve Conine), CFO, COO, CTO, CMO, and head of US Direct (Wayfair.com). We got to learn about how they got to where they are now as well as their vision for the company in addition to Q&A. The leadership team is willing to take time out of their day to not just talk to the larger group, but connect individually as well. I had the opportunity to get coffee with the CFO and learn more about his day-to-day, which I never would have expected as an intern.
The interns also had the opportunity to see the AR/VR technology in action as Mike Festa, Director of Wayfair Next, demoed the technology with us.
4. Amazing Events and Outings
Not only did we have a great experience professionally at Wayfair, but they provided us with amazing opportunities to socialize and network with our colleagues as well as make an impact in our community. All Wayfair interns volunteered at the McKinley Preparatory High School to paint classrooms and prepare for the upcoming school year. In addition, we took a tour of Fenway Park (that’s my head on the far left), had a tour of the Harpoon Brewery, a boat cruise, a tour of the Westboro distribution and photography facility, and the Wayfair Summer Party.
5. Wayfair Has Great Office Perks
Lastly, Wayfair has some pretty awesome office perks. I started my day each morning with an iced coffee from the brand new premium coffee machines (installed the first week we arrived). Wayfair’s “collab” spaces give you an area to brainstorm ideas in the comfort of beautiful Wayfair sofas, chairs, and products. There are ping pong tables in the game room, yes there is a game room with video games and more. If you need some time to relax and take a break, don’t worry there are massage chairs, too. No time to pick up lunch? No problem, Wayfair partners with Peach which delivers food to the office every day.
I hope this gives you a good feel for what to expect at Wayfair. Not only did I learn a ton, but I got a feel for what it is like to work at a fast-growing technology company and build some great relationships. If you are looking to get into a technology company, Wayfair should be at the top of your list.
Here are a few more pictures from the summer: