What are you doing this summer? We asked rising second-year MBA students to check in from their summer internships, where they are applying the lessons of their first year at Yale SOM.
Cheng Zeng ’21
Internship: Electronic Arts, Redwood City, CA (Work from Home)
Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Favorite Yale SOM Class: Macroeconomics
Clubs and affiliations: Data Analytics Club, Technology Club, Marketing Club, Greater China Club
Favorite New Haven eatery: BBQ Chicken
Favorite Professor: Michael Sinkinson. Superb classroom engagement. I looked forward to every single class!
Favorite Yale SOM community event: Winter Holiday Party. Live musicians, food everywhere, and a room full of candies!
I interned at Electronic Arts (EA) this summer as a Strategy and Demand Planning Intern within the Commercial Strategy Forecasting team for EA’s subscription services. Although my team works out of Redwood City, I stayed in New Haven and worked from home due to the current pandemic. I missed out on the sunshine of California, but New Haven had its appeal.
EA is one of the largest video game companies, with titles such as FIFA, The Sims, and Plants vs. Zombies. Everyone at EA embraces a fun and casual work culture. The desire to create the best value for players and inspire the world through play was evident in both everyday work activities and special events. During this internship, I had the opportunity to engage in many meaningful experiences through EA. Throughout the summer, EA invited influencers such as Trevor Noah to speak about diversity, brought interns along with executives to the 3% Conference, and hosted expert learning sessions focusing on anything from subscription services to making healthy breakfasts.
I was involved in two major projects this summer:
- To help make more informed decisions on EA’s subscription platforms, I focused on better understanding player behavior using big data. I explored topics such as the relationship between game characteristics and player interest, the interaction between games within the same platform, and the impact of macroeconomic and one-time events on player engagement. Using these findings, I created a user-friendly tool to predict player behavior with more accuracy, consistency, and mathematical rigor.
- To better serve global customers, I worked with a team of interns across multiple functions of the organization to identify the gaps among current EA practices, market needs, and industry best practices on a specific topic area. We quantified market opportunities, identified solutions, and constructed a launch plan to target prioritized countries.
I had the opportunity to present both projects to senior leadership, and the recommendations of both projects will likely be implemented soon. The opportunity to bring true value and deal with complex issues by leveraging both my quantitative and business skills made this internship a rewarding experience.
Many of the conclusions I made on my projects were driven by data, and my experiences at SOM played an important factor in helping me succeed. For example, under the guidance of Professor Tauhid Zaman, Logan Disch, Jennifer Kang, and I participated in the 2019 Adobe Analytics Challenge (and won third place!) The opportunity to structurally analyze a large real-life customer database in an academic setting provided me with a dependable approach and a sense of confidence when I received EA’s database. Further, creating content and hosting events for the SOM Data Analytics Club helped me realize the importance of data and taught me new skills that were directly applicable to my work at EA. From data processing to data visualization, members of the SOM data analytics community were dedicated to helping each other learn and grow.
One of the most unexpected experiences this summer was the three-day power outage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias. It was heartwarming to receive a consistent message from everyone at EA telling me to prioritize my health and safety. I also want to give a special shout-out to SOM for providing me with a much-needed power connection under current social distancing measures.
All in all, this internship was a great experience. I had opportunities to speak with colleagues from across the organization and therefore gained great exposure to both the gaming industry and the subscription business model. My team let me steer my projects based on my vision, and continuously gave their support and time whenever I sought for them. The combination of freedom and availability allowed me to appropriately leverage my strength and create value through my projects.
Twelve weeks flew by in the blink of an eye. Time flies when you are having fun.