You could look at an MBA internships in two ways. It can simply be a mandatory and boring pre-requisite to completing your business education i.e. another tick mark on the graduation list. Or it can be the best and smartest way to increase your chances of getting placed in your dream job several months before graduation.
For a very long time, the top management Consulting firms and investment banks have relied upon MBA interns to fill up their regular recruitment pipeline. Out of 400 consultants who join Bain after completing their MBA, 40% are those who’ve completed an internship with them.
Now the best companies in other traditional and unconventional industries (from an MBA recruitment perspective) have started following suit. If estimates (by Wall Street Journal) are to be believe, roughly 30%-40% of MBA graduates from the top programs (like Darden, Columbia, Chicago) took up full time post MBA jobs at their interning firms. Effectively, your internship might be viewed as a 8-12 week job interview.
Our earlier posts did the groundwork on this topic: How internships work and Summer internship salaries at the top MBA programs. Time to hit the final nail.
Here’s what you need to know before you start your MBA internship, so you can grab the best MBA jobs before it gets thrown to the big, bad, open market. We’ll start with the obvious ones (to make the list more comprehensive) and then move to the not-so-obvious points.
How to convert MBA internships into fulltime jobs
1. Aim for the right role, in the right company, in the right industry & in the right geography
Or in other words, if you want to work as a strategy consultant in McKinsey (USA), don’t enthusiastically jump at the opportunity to take up an MBA internship at an India based mid-office role offered by KPOs who service the top consulting firms and investment banking clients.
Though the companies may advertise the position as the stepping stone to front-office roles, very few employees manage the transition.
2. If you can’t get into your dream company, join their competitor
Going with analogy of management consulting internships, if you can’t directly get into Bain and Company (or any of the elite names), try aiming for a tier lower (Booz or AT Kearney etc).
Though not as good as option 1, your chances of converting your MBA internship into a permanent job is still way better than someone who never dabbled in the consulting space earlier.
3. Prepare for your MBA intern role
Start learning about the company before you step into it. You’d have done some basic research before you went for the MBA internship interview when you knew little about the specific project you’d be working on.
Now that you know a little more about what you’d be doing for the next 3 months, ensure that you brush up on the skills that you’d have to start using right from day 1.
Cover the technical skills (excel modelling, advanced powerpoint features, financial ratios, statistical analysis techniques, how to optimally use the coffee machine when your boss orders his 23rd cup for the day) and the soft skills (corporate communication, networking skills, forgetting that you have a life etc).
4. Get as much clarity about your responsibilities during the internship period
It is very likely that the company hasn’t cooked up an imaginary project just to keep you busy for 12 weeks. There would be specific deliverables that your mentor would expect on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
If it hasn’t been clearly mentioned in the internship description that was sent to your business school, get it clarified before you roll up your sleeves and get lost in the crazy day-to-day operations.
Ask questions without thinking whether you are interrupting the busy lives of your mentor or HR team. You’ll make their lives busier if you end up doing what you weren’t supposed to.
5. Dress and behave like an employee, not an MBA intern
One of the perks of getting back to school is that you get to ditch the formal gear for hoodies, torn jeans, Bata chappals and a 3-day stubble. But for the MBA internship period, please ensure that you don’t come across as a misfit. MBA recruiters are in no mood to buy your inner beauty argument.
Sprinkle the corporate attire with some corporate attitude as well. Stick to the official timings (gets a little difficult because everyone comes in on time, but no one leaves on time).
Respect the companies policies (if they recently added ‘No barbecuing in the board room’ policy, ask yourself if you might be the reason).
6. Don’t just focus on impressing folks
This one doesn’t go against the obvious point of impressing your future employer. Do that by all means. But don’t do just that. Ensure that your takeaways from the MBA internship will be helpful for your longer term goals.
After all the fantastic work you do for them, what if your interning company doesn’t extend a permanent offer? No problem, you can still take the experience to other companies in the same space that are recruiting.
7. Network across the company, not just within your project team
If you’ve bagged a finance internship in a technology company, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t talk to the new products team, or the internal strategy department or the business development folks.
Talking to other teams in the company could open up new areas of interest for you as well as opportunities that weren’t advertised.
If the company has an open door policy and it allows you access to senior management team, use your discretion to approach individuals without coming across as a pain in the you-know-where.
Any other ideas on how you could convert summer internships into full time jobs? Please share them below.