How to Make the Most of Your Summer MBA Internship

A two-year MBA programme generally includes a summer break in between terms, which is a perfect opportunity to reap the myriad benefits of a summer MBA internship. A student who makes the most of that experience can learn valuable skills and lessons and gain a distinct advantage over others when the time comes to apply for professional jobs after graduation.

What is an MBA internship?

An internship is when a student takes a temporary position with a company, a non-governmental organisation or a government body in order to gain experience outside of academia. A summer MBA internship occurs during the summer months – often in between two terms of coursework – and is typically either a no-pay or low-pay position.

Rather than a standard internship, which could expose you to any field, a summer MBA internship will immerse you in some aspect of the business world. You will likely have the opportunity to shadow a professional in the line of work you have chosen to study in order to gain real skills, participate in real-life projects and to prepare yourself for the workplace upon graduation from an MBA programme.

Who arranges a summer MBA internship?

A summer MBA internship can be arranged by a department within the school or by the student. B-schools and universities with post-graduate programmes typically have a career services division that works with students to place them in short-term assignments with businesses looking to enhance their relationships with local schools as well as to expand the pool of skilled candidates from which to choose new employees to add to their workforce. For example, GISMA Business School (Germany) has a Career Centre where administrators arrange interviews between companies and students. The school even goes a step farther by organising “a pre-selection process, matching candidates to appropriate positions and providing companies with candidates’ job application documents.”

Perhaps your school does not have an official summer MBA internship programme to provide lists of available jobs and companies that offer internships – or even if they do, it does not include the company for which you want to work. In such a case, a student can take the initiative by contacting a company directly and asking if there are available internships. From that point, the relationship does not include the school except for one notable part – the school must approve the position if you need it to satisfy a mandatory requirement for an internship during your degree programme.

Preparing for a summer MBA internship

The application process for a summer MBA internship can be as rigorous as that of a full-time job once you graduate. Internships for prominent positions can be highly competitive, and some students begin pursuing their options soon after entering the MBA programme. As mentioned, many of the schools that have an internship programme include that feature as part of a comprehensive career services department. INSEAD business school’s global MBA programme – ranked #1 in the world in 2017 by the Financial Times – includes career services for its students. This service is “very proactive in preparing you for interviews…and will meet with you regularly to help with resume writing, career trek planning, and answering industry-specific questions.” Students who take advantage of this service will ideally find an internship perfectly suited to their needs and career goals.

Read: The Value of an MBA Internship

When you go to an internship interview, prepare as if it were a real full-time job to which you were applying. This includes conducting research on the company to be able to hit the ground running from the first day. Before you choose an internship, it may be quite helpful to make a list of what you hope to gain from the position, including learning objectives, salary and location in order to compare the options available to you.

Benefits of a summer MBA internship
There are many benefits of a summer MBA internship beyond the practical experience you will gain. The interview process alone will give insight into the types of questions that are asked during professional interviews.

Although some internships do not pay at all, there are many that will give you a competitive wage for your services. According to the University of London’s (UK) website, students earn on average over USD 1,300 per week at summer MBA internships in over 300 countries around the world. That money can help you with tuition, books or even your personal living expenses.

The University of London provides an online resource with great statistics regarding its MBA internships as well as historic full-time employment statistics. The report reveals that MBA candidates have taken internships in the US, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Such international exposure is another benefit of internships.

Read: The Importance of Internships

As you will discover after graduation, the summer MBA internship you completed has the ability to jump-start your professional career by introducing you to some influential people in the business community who regularly hire MBA recipients. In addition, you can develop a larger skillset that will make you more attractive to potential employers. It is up to you to make the most of that internship by taking advantage of all the resources available to you to select an ideal one and then following that up with stellar professional performance.

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