Your MBA internship is an important experience in your program, as it provides you with industry experience and can even lead to after you’ve graduated. However, many MBA students wonder how to find the right MBA internship, how to apply and whether they need to complete one at all. Since MBA matriculants tend have diverse backgrounds and career experiences, an MBA internship may or may not be the best fit for your career path. In this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the MBA internship, from how to find one to choosing the right one for you, plus tips on how to make the most of your internship!
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An MBA internship is an important part of the MBA curriculum. In fact, for some students it is the most impactful part of their entire MBA program. Completing an internship during your MBA has countless benefits when it comes to enriching your education and setting you up for future career success. It is a critical part of and create the biggest return on investment for you.
An MBA internship is essentially a short, 10-12 week job placement you’ll take on as part of your MBA program. Some internships are structured and some are unstructured, but most are offered to students by Fortune 500 companies in finance, technology, consulting and many other industries. An MBA internship is a unique opportunity to work for some of the biggest companies in the world while you’re earning your degree, gaining valuable work experience and skills.
When do you complete an MBA internship?
MBA internships are completed in the summer after your first year in an MBA program. Since they tend to be 10-12 weeks long, you’ll start an MBA internship after your spring semester finishes and work throughout the summer months. Some MBA internships or work placements allow you to work during the school year on a part-time basis, although this depends on the company and program.
If you’re completing a degree with one of the online MBA programs, you can still have an MBA internship! There are remote MBA internships available for distance-learning students, or you might find an in-person placement near you that you can count towards your MBA.
Is an MBA internship required?
For full-time MBA programs, the internship is usually a requirement or at the very least strong encouraged. Full-time MBA students usually complete their internships in the summer after their first year, once they’ve already completed a majority of the core coursework in their curriculum. This gives them an opportunity to not only work during the summer and gain experience, but apply what they’ve learned during the school year.
Not all MBA programs will require you to complete an internship, whether because it is an optional part of your or because an internship is not necessary. For example, an Executive MBA student will likely not complete an internship as they will already have a great deal of work experience entering an MBA program, and they won’t benefit as much from the experience.
Are MBA internships graded?
Sometimes, yes, MBA internships count as credit towards your degree, and they are “graded.” The grading process for an MBA internship usually just includes an evaluation from your employer or supervisor that they submit to the school, and even a self-evaluation you complete and submit, discussing how you think you performed and what you learned from the experience.
Benefits of an MBA Internship
There are many benefits to completing an MBA internship, whether it’s required or not. It’s possible that you have enough experience that an internship doesn’t make sense for you, or you are already employed and don’t have time for an internship. Even so, an MBA internship can add undeniable value to your education.
- Develop your professional skills. An internship is the quickest and best way to develop your soft and hard skills in a real-world setting and put yourself to the test. It gives you an idea of what skills are needed to succeed in your industry or job position and what you can bring as an employee. It’s about building your employability after graduation.
- Potential for future job. An MBA internship alone may make an MBA worth it for you. A majority of companies choose to either recruit or hire their MBA interns directly after graduation for full-time positions. Even if you’re not hired by the company you interned for, the experience is a great addition to your resume and can help you secure a different job after graduation.
- Cement your MBA learning. MBAs are about practical, hands-on learning, and working as an intern is one of the best ways to apply the knowledge and skills you’re learning in the classroom to the real world.
- Grow your professional network. MBA interns commonly work as part of a team, so the opportunities for professional networking are right there. As an intern you’ll get to know a company inside out, and make connections across the team or department you’re working with.
- Learn about a new industry or job function. If your plan is to change jobs or change industries, an internship is the easiest way to broaden your knowledge, fast. You can use your internship as a test drive to see if this is the right career move for you.
- Earn a salary during the summer months. Bringing in a little extra cash during your studies is always a bonus, and MBA interns are typically paid a salary. Some MBA interns are paid very generously, depending on the company and industry they intern for. Aside from , sponsorships or savings, it’s one of the best ways to earn some extra income for your education.
The biggest question to ask yourself when deciding on the right MBA internship is: what can this opportunity offer YOU?
Don’t settle for an internship because it’s easy, or pays the most, or because the company name is a big deal. MBA students all have different goals, interests and backgrounds. Pick the internship that checks all of your boxes and will give you the working environment, knowledge, skills and experience you want.
If your dream is to work for a Fortune 500 company, there are plenty of choices for MBA interns. If you prefer to work in the non-profit sector, you may have to take the initiative and reach out to a company you’re interested in and ask about internship opportunities.
When you start your MBA program, start making a list of companies or sectors you might be interested in interning with, and get in touch with your program’s career center, which will have resources to help you decide what internship to pursue.
When to start applying to MBA internships
It’s best to start searching for MBA internship opportunities as soon as your program begins.
Some students even start looking as soon as they’re accepted, since there are pre-MBA internship programs, too, which we’ll explore more later.
Many companies don’t start recruiting or looking for MBA interns until January or February, but since it can take some time to decide which internship is right for you and getting your MBA resume, cover letter and other documents ready, it’s better to start early.
To apply to most MBA internships, you’ll need to complete an application. Most often, this includes submitting your resume and cover letter, and then attending a job interview. This process will be familiar as it’s similar to your MBA application and MBA interview. You can and should prepare for your internship interview and application, since competition can be high, especially at the biggest companies.
How to choose the best MBA internship
As we’ve said, the best way to choose an MBA internship is to pick the one that offers you what you want. Do your research into the industries you’re most interested in, from the types of jobs you can pursue, to specific companies, salary, work-life balance and so on.
Check out individual companies you might be interested in interning for and see if they have connections with your program or have hired students from your program in the past. If possible, you might also reach out to companies you’re interested in and ask about opportunities for interning as an MBA student yourself.
Aside from researching companies, you should reach out to the alumni network at your program and get some perspective from other past students. They may have interned for a company you have your eye on or be able to provide valuable insight into which companies are best to work for.
Compile a list of potential companies or positions you’re interested in and talk with a career advisor at your program for their insights. Match the list of potentials with your career goals, desired job position and experience, and try to narrow it down to your top 5 choices.
How to find MBA internships
MBA programs will give you chances to secure an internship, but the work will still fall on your shoulders. For instance, you can reach out to career services to talk to an advisor or ask about what kinds of internship partnerships the MBA program has.
Students also find MBA internships through one of these sources:
- Career fairs
- Recruitment fairs
- Alumni network
- Professional network
- Job postings on school website
- Career websites
One of the most common ways MBA students find their internship is through a professional network, whether their own or the school’s alumni network. Your relationships with your peers, colleagues and program alumni will go a long way towards connecting you with opportunities and providing you solid advice on how to advance your career.
The most important part to find an MBA internship is to be persistent, take initiative and don’t be afraid to tap your contact list to find what you’re looking for. Participate in recruitment events and talk to a variety of people. Networking is the key, here.
A pre-MBA internship, unlike the traditional MBA internship, is a short program students may choose to complete before they start their first term at a program. The length of pre-MBA programs can vary from 1 week to 1-month or even longer.
The purpose of an pre-MBA internship is to prepare students for their MBA program, but it’s most suitable for students who are planning to use their MBA for a career change, whether to change jobs within an industry or change their industry altogether.
While pre-MBA internships are completely optional, they can be beneficial. MBA students who want to jump to a new industry can use them as an introduction to a new field, a type of crash course in how an industry works and what type of roles they could find as an MBA graduate.
Just like MBA internships, pre-MBA internships can lead to full-time positions or longer internships later on in your program. The pre-MBA can give you the initial knowledge and experience you need to get your foot in the door of a new industry or career.
On the downside, pre-MBA internships usually don’t pay, so the financial loss and time commitment when you’re just starting an intensive MBA program needs to be worth it.
If you are using your MBA to pivot your career, a pre-MBA internship may not be necessary for you since there will be countless opportunities for you while you’re in the program. However, if your decision to switch careers is not set in stone or you want more information first, a pre-MBA internship can fill in any gaps and help you solidify a decision.
Once you’ve secured an MBA internship, it’s all about making the most of this opportunity, whether it leads you to a full-time post-MBA position, or not.
Just like any job, it’s important to research the company you’ll be working for and the specific department or team you’ll be working with. During your internship interview, ask questions! The more information you have beforehand, the better prepared you’ll be to hit the ground running, since MBA internships are short and go by fast.
You’ll have a limited time to make an impression and squeeze the most out of this experience that you can, so be prepared to take control of your learning and your work.
What are the most important skills you’ll need?
1. Communication and interpersonal skills
Some of the most important skills you’ll need to succeed in an MBA internship are not technical. In fact, the soft skills or “people skills” may be the most critical.
Communication and interpersonal skills are vital to your success. As a new face at a company, you’ll have to start building relationships immediately, and learn to communicate your ideas, your questions and your concerns clearly and confidently. As an intern, it’s expected that you are there to learn and grow, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and show that you are eager to learn.
2. Presentation and analysis
Some technical skill is useful, especially when it comes to presentation ability and analyzing data. Even if you’re not very computer-savvy, you can learn basic technical skills that make your job smoother when you’re analyzing data, compiling reports or making presentations.
3. Flexibility and being a team player
As an MBA intern, you may be working on multiple projects or tasks, and you might be called on to cover new responsibilities. You need to be adaptable and not remain rigidly in your given role. You’ll be working as a part of a dynamic team, so you’ll need to be able to work well with others.
How can you prepare for an MBA internship?
1. Research the company
Doing a little research into a company, from its executives and stakeholders down to its history and culture, can give you a sort of overview and first impression. Obviously, there are some things you’ll need to learn on the job but a first look certainly doesn’t hurt to give you some background information going in.
2. Get to know the team
If you can, check out the profiles of the colleagues you’ll be working with and get some insight into the department you’ll be working with. You can get a first impression of how the team works together and what the company culture is like before you start your internship. If you can, talk to the representatives at a career fair or recruitment event and ask questions.
3. Be prepared to take ownership for your work
Even as the intern, you’ll be expected to act as a member of the team and take responsibility for your own work. This also applies for if you have questions or don’t know how to do something. You’re there to learn what you can, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask to be put on a project you’re interested in.
4. Keep a record of company contacts
Both before and during your internship, keep a written or digital record of the colleagues you work with. Note their names, positions and contact information. This is not only about networking but about keeping a record of individuals you’ve worked with and can potentially reach out to in the future.
Should you accept a full-time job offer?
The last question you’ll ask yourself when you begin an MBA internship is should you accept a full-time job offer, should you be extended one.
The truth is, there may be hundreds or even thousands of interns hired by a single company, so you may or may not be offered a full-time position, depending on where you complete your internship. If you are offered a position, don’t feel that you are required to accept.
Many MBA interns find at the end of their internship that a company was not a good fit, that a job position isn’t a good fit or they simply want to pursue other career opportunities.
If you decide against a full-time position at the end of your internship, don’t worry. There are many more opportunities out there now that you’ve earned your MBA!
1. Which internship is best for MBA?
There are many choices for MBA internship, and it’s tricky to decide on which one is best. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that works for you. Your MBA internship should give you the experiences and skills you’re looking for to advance your career or gain the knowledge and experience you need to succeed.
2. What do MBA interns do?
The job descriptions for MBA interns range depending on the industry, company and position. Most likely, you’ll be working on company projects alongside a team or completing tasks under the supervision of a team member.
3. Why are MBA internships important?
MBA internships are an important part of the MBA curriculum because they provide you with real, hands-on experience, develop both your soft and hard skills and present opportunities for professional network building. You may even be offered a full-time position at the company you intern for, once you graduate from an MBA program.
4. How to find an MBA internship?
Most MBA students find internship opportunities through their professional network, their MBA program resources or alumni networks. Most of the time, you’ll find internship opportunities through your relationships with your peers, colleagues and professors.
5. When is the MBA internship?
MBA internships are usually completed the summer after your first year as an MBA, before you begin your second year. If your MBA program is shorter than 2 years, you may not need to complete an internship at all, or you might complete a work placement while you earn your degree, instead.
6. What is a pre-MBA internship?
A pre-MBA internship comes in many forms, but it is essentially a short internship you complete before starting your MBA program. Students typically use the pre-MBA internship to secure a summer internship after their first year, or as a way to explore a new industry or career path they are interested in switching to.
7. Are MBA interns paid?
Yes, most MBA interns are paid a salary, depending on the company and industry they are interning for. The typical salary range for an intern will depend on which company you choose to work for and what the average salary is in a specific industry.
8. What type of MBA earns the most?
Some of the highest paying fields among MBA jobs include finance, consulting, technology and business analytics, although many MBA jobs come with higher salaries.