Yale School of Management

Chak Pellakuru ’20

MBAInternship: National Basketball Association

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Working in finance at ESPN, I could see the dynamic nature of media and how streaming services and digital products are changing the industry. I wanted to pivot in my career to a more creative, strategic position, and I was drawn to the media industry. It’s always customer-facing. Everyone watches movies and TV shows. Media provides a connective tissue to people across the world—I have family in India who watch Netflix. To try to make that experience better globally feels really impactful to me.

The media industry is considered a nontraditional background for business school students. But Yale SOM’s integrated curriculum really stood out, because of its flexibility. I could take classes outside the business school that would still count toward my degree. I’ve taken film and media studies elective courses at Yale College, and they’ve been terrific.

This year, I’m taking a class in the Yale Humanities and Film Studies Program on contemporary TV and storytelling. One of our teachers has worked for a show that is on HBO, and we had the screenwriter for The Handmaid’s Tale come in and talk to the class. It’s all right up my alley.

I was on the content strategy team during my internship at the NBA. We were looking at, basically, how to make sports TV broadcasts better. We approached technologies in terms of, “How could we use this to better engage fans to keep them tuned into the game longer?”

I was doing a lot of data analysis and testing to detect patterns and see what was working and what wasn’t. And the cool part was that it was also international, so I could look at what was working in China, what was working in India, and what was working in Europe. Based on my data analysis, I made recommendations to our management team.

Having some basic knowledge of accounting and finance and economics was, of course, critical. But honestly, the soft skills we focused on in the core curriculum were just as important. We do a ton of teamwork in core classes, and most of the work at my internship was done in teams. Knowing when to listen and when to contribute, when to lead and when to step back, all came into play. I think those are the skills that really carry over into any internship, no matter what field it’s in.

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