One of the most important parts of completing your Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree is to land a summer internship between the first and second years of your program. It will not only provide you with much needed work experience to back up your education, but it will move you one step closer to landing a great full-time position after graduation with an employer of your choosing.
Defining What You Want in an MBA Summer Internship
You’ve heard their names and you recognize their brands: McKesson, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé, PGA Tour, Shell, The Coca-Cola Company, Cisco, Toyota, American Greetings, Aflac, IBM and so many more. But what these companies all have in common is that they hire interns from Master’s programs around the country each and every summer.
What selecting an internship all comes down to is this: where do you want to work once you graduate with your Masters of Business Administration degree? Here is what Al Cotrone, Director of Career Development at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, has to say about this subject: “I think that the best scenario will obviously be one where the student will identify their preferred post-graduate employer, secure an internship with that employer for that summer, get an offer for full-time employment at the end of that summer and then go there after graduation.”
Too bad it isn’t always that simple. It takes a lot of planning and hard work to define the right summer internship opportunity and then to set the wheels in motion to land it. And that’s why it is important that you:
- Start early. Summer internships are frequently posted at the beginning of the year, so keep an eye out. It’s also a good idea to define your career goals, reach out to your school’s alumni networks and start building relationships before you get to campus for the first year.
- Do your research. Identify companies you want to work for then make sure the organization and internship opportunity are the right fit for you.
- Assess your career goals. Know where your passion lies and find an internship that compliments it.
- Conduct a real and thorough self-assessment. Understand your skills and capabilities, and how they match with what a company needs. Be able to talk about them in the interview process.
Traits and Skills You Will Need for Your MBA Summer Internship
The MBA summer internship allows students to build relationships with prospective employers, hone their skill set and explore new industries. However, it is important to focus on a few best choices rather than becoming scattered and being lukewarm for many.
When Warner Bros. Entertainment Group was looking to hire MBAs this summer they posted a notice asking for well-rounded individuals with proven academic excellence and involvement in extracurricular and philanthropic activities, superior communication and analytical skills and prior experience in an entertainment company, CPG company, investment bank, consulting firm or digital media company. And that was just part of their list of qualities they sought in summer interns. And Anjie Blindauer, MBA Staffing Consultant with Microsoft says that their MBA summer interns should be “passionate for technology” as well as “committed to their work and excellence.”
Passion and commitment aren’t the only traits that employers want in their Master program interns. According to a May 10, 2011, Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) report – based on responses from 1,509 corporate recruiters who hire MBAs at 905 companies in 51 countries – the top five traits employers are seeking in 2011 MBA hires are:
- Initiative (77%)
- Professionalism (77%)
- Motivation (76%)
- Integrity (76%)
- The ability to deal effectively with pressure and unexpected obstacles (75%)
And the top five skills employers seek are:
- Communication skills (86%)
- Strategic skills (67%)
- The proven ability to perform (66%)
- Core business knowledge (63%)
- The ability to manage change (61%)
That means it is important to begin developing these skill sets now. In addition, if you want to ace the interview, be sure to know the company and the brand.
Understanding the MBA Summer Internship Mentality
Don’t think of an internship as merely some experience to round out your resume. You have to be just as focused and dedicated as a regular employee if you expect to land a summer internship as well as a full-time position after graduation.
Catrone sees it this way. “I think that it is important to remember that companies don’t offer internships because they need to get work done during the summer or, you know, out of the goodness of their corporate hearts. They see these internship programs as the core in the base of their full-time recruitment plan that they are going to execute the following year. So to them it is very important that they identify the core of their full-time class and get them into their organizations for internships.”
That means putting your best foot forward. And for your efforts you might be rewarded with a very rewarding employment opportunity. One that could net you a summer base salary between $5,000 and $10,000, a signing bonus of up to $10,000 as well as other possible compensation depending on the employer and your skill sets or so says the Carnegie-Mellon Tepper School of Business in its 2010 MBA Summer Interns Compensation study.
The good news is that according to the March 31, 2011 Businessweek article, “MBA Internship Hiring Shows Signs of Life,” while there is a “strong sense of caution” on the part of many employers, when it comes to hiring there has been an uptick for not only MBA summer internships, but for MBA year-round internships as well.