Landing a coveted internship at Nintendo Co. Ltd. is not an easy task. Senior business/marketing student Sarah Hartono was one of 11,000 applicants in the summer of 2020 and managed to stand out and land a spot at the company famous for Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. Crowell School of Business has a strong focus on calling and career and prepares its students to enter the workforce partially through internships. Here, Hartono shares her experience and what she learned about landing your dream internship.

Internships are invaluable

I’ve been told the value of internships since high school. My first was as a high school junior, at a tech company. I learned there that life and internship and career is all about prototyping, doing little tests to figure out what I enjoy and what I don't enjoy. So I'm always seeking internships of some kind to figure out "what's my passion, and what am I not passionate about?" I’ve always been intentional about trying to narrow down what I want to do in life.

Find a company that fits you

Nintendo really matches my personality; they're very family oriented and fun. It’s also a blend of Asian and American cultures, and I wanted to see how Eastern and Western work cultures intersect, because my own work style has been influenced by both the West and the East.

Leverage the resources you already have

I looked on the Biola alumni LinkedIn page, and then I looked up alumni that worked at Nintendo. I reached out to one alumna on LinkedIn and she very generously gave me a lot of information on the culture and more. Before I went looking on LinkedIn, I didn't even know Nintendo offered internships!

Getting an internship requires work and creativity

There were 11,000 applicants for Nintendo internships last summer, and about 6,000 applicants for the position I wanted. That was intimidating. Before I applied, I asked three previous Nintendo interns about their experiences, and if they had any tips. When I submitted my resume and cover letter, I made sure to highlight things in line with what Nintendo was looking for. That’s not cheating — everything I wrote was true — that’s being resourceful and figuring out how to stand out. I even tailored my resume to specific keywords in their job description. In my interviews, I made sure to point out that I understood and aligned with their company culture. After multiple lengthy interviews, they called me the same day and told me I got it. Praise God for that! It was very competitive but doing serious research and going "full send" on it helped me stand out.

Internships provide experiences that a classroom can’t

I was a social media and influencers intern, helping create content for our YouTube community, like memes and jokes, and creating relatable, cute content for our female-segmented audience, like an Instagram channel called Nintendo Inspired. Being Gen Z, being female, being Asian American, I brought all that to the table. How to best reach college girls, like me? I suggested doing a photoshoot in a dorm with a Nintendo Switch — it plants the idea of bringing their Switch to college for game nights with friends. I helped build out the internship program with bonding activities that let me demonstrate my initiative and my community building skills. I also did social media analytics and helped create a metric system for the CEO and others to see how our social media platforms were doing.

The right internship may change your future

Nintendo was my first time in a formal corporate structure, and I learned that there's so much to learn, and so many people of such high caliber to learn from. Also, I wasn’t even aware of a field called "strategic initiatives." It’s inter-company collaboration, like Pokemon-themed Oreos or Animal Crossing-themed Puma shoes. Business is often seen as raw competition and clawing to get the most market share, but this is a whole area that's focused on partnerships. How can I help companies collaborate and create something delightful for their customers? I just think that’s beautiful, and similar to how God wants to collaborate with us, and He wants us to collaborate with each other. Culture happens when we collaborate. It gets me so excited, it's now what I want to do for a career.

My internship also improved my class experiences. This is my senior year, and the insights I bring to my classes are at a higher level now; I have real world experience to speak from. For example, in my market research class, I have examples of how bigger companies learn about their consumers. I'm able to share my exposure to business-to-business relationships and how brands actually collaborate together. I remember sitting in on a meeting where a company tried to pitch something to Nintendo and it just came off as cheesy and "salesy," so I can now tell the class "well, here’s how not to pitch an idea…" I think that real-world experience contributes to the caliber of the class.

A final word for students: Go for it, but go with God

A quick shout out to some top resources on campus. First, the Student Alumni Association— they helped me reach the alumni who helped me. Second, the Career Center — every semester I get my resume updated and reviewed by a professional. The hardest thing about the internship search is the motivation to start. It was sometimes hard to find the desire to make the time to search and prepare and apply, and every ‘apply’ button I clicked was inviting somebody to reject me. Getting through that requires a collaboration with God.

Also, for someone ambitious and career-minded like me, it was hard not to put career first. My very best advice? Never make career number one or make it your god. The times I got discouraged were the times I put career first. Thank God I got called out on it! So coming back to God and putting Him first was the best thing I could have done, because then I was able to search with a heart of joy and an abundance mindset, not a scarcity mindset. God will make a way!

Learn more about Crowell’s emphasis on calling and career.