MBA Internship Process
If you’re interested in earning a Master in Business Administration (MBA), the summer internship in-between your first and second year of graduate school will be a critical part of your educational experience. An MBA internship prepares you for one of the most critical elements of the program - finding a job. The summer internship is a great opportunity to explore your interests and employment options post-graduation.
Why is the internship process so critical for MBAs?
It’s no secret that companies prefer to hire from their intern pool. If you can land a great summer internship for the right company in business school, not only will you get excellent work experience to discuss in interviews and put on your resume, but you could receive an offer from the company at the end of the internship. If the company was a good fit, then you’re set for your second year of graduate school. Acing the internship process is key for this.
How to Best Prepare for Internship Recruitment
When preparing for internship recruitment, you should start with your end goal in mind. Consider what position you want when you graduate with your MBA or a target company. Then consider the skills needed to be successful in that position. Next, look at what skillsets you already have and determine what you need to acquire in order to be qualified for that position or to work in that company. This assessment will help you identify your skill gaps.
Once you’ve identified the skills you’d like to acquire, use them to guide your internship-related decisions. Seek out opportunities that will get you to your end goal.
Networking and Informational Interviews
A critical element throughout MBA programs is networking. As an MBA student, you have access to all of your business school’s alumni. This is why it can be helpful to attend school in a location near where you’d like to live after you graduate. Many schools will give you access to their alumni networks as soon as you confirm your intent to attend the school. Take advantage of this networking opportunity and start reaching out before you start classes.
An important part of networking is setting up informational interviews. During these informal interviews, try to learn about the interviewee’s position, the company, and how the interviewee chose that position and company. Learning about others’ journeys that got them to where they are today (your target position or company), will help you learn more about how to approach your post-graduation job search. Informational interviews could also help you develop mentors in a career you wish to pursue and connections with external companies. Be sure you come to the informational interview prepared. Research the company. Check out the company website and google it to learn about anything happening in the news. Ask questions that show you’re informed and took the time to learn about the company. Lastly, start informational interviews early. They can be time-consuming and with school, extracurricular activities, and your other responsibilities, you will be busy. If you can start before classes start, you’ll have more time to learn more about potential companies and careers and what might be the best fit for you for your summer internship.
Internship interviews can be in a variety of formats. Regardless of the type, interview preparation is critical for a successful interview. Each format presents its own challenges and common mistakes for candidates to avoid. One type, virtual interviews, is becoming increasingly common for business schools. Virtual interviews can cut a lot of travel costs. In a virtual interview, make sure you have a professional, clean, and quiet background. You don’t want anything to take the attention away from you. Dress professionally for virtual interviews to make a good first impression and practice using the technology before your interview. You don't want to waste precious interview time fiddling with your headphones or another piece of technology. Lastly, be aware of your body language during a virtual interview just as you would be in an in-person interview.
Another format, the activity-based team interview, can also be challenging for different reasons. For these activities, small groups of candidates work together to present a solution. This can be challenging to work with a new group of people for such a short time period. This group work doesn’t provide enough time for your group to go through the typical forming, storming, norming group processes. The key to being successful in this situation is being self-aware of your thoughts and behaviors. Be open to feedback and solution-focused.
Internship Interview Questions
Interview preparation is critical to showcase yourself in the best way and highlight what an asset you’d be as an intern to your target company. Although internship interview questions will vary by company culture, industry, interviewer, or role, Vault compiled a comprehensive list of 101 questions based on their Internship Experience Survey from students interviewing for internships. Use the Vault’s internship questions list to help you prepare for your interview.
Prior to an interview, spend time reflecting on your previous accomplishments, lessons learned, and answering practice questions. Take advantage of all the resources your business school offers for career and internship placement, such as mock interviews and resume reviews. The summer internship is an excellent opportunity to catapult you into the career you hoped for when you decided to earn your MBA.