Finding the right summer internship is one of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of being a first year MBA. After the countless hours you’ve spent on cover letters and interviews you finally land your dream internship; but the real challenge is just about to begin. A typical internship takes around 8 to 12 weeks, which is a relatively short time to finish the assigned work, impress all your coworkers, and most importantly — get a full-time offer. After several internship experiences before and during business school, I would like to offer some tips to help you build up the right expectation for the internship and make the most of this experience. There are three key things to remember:
Take Initiative. The internship experience is what you make of it. There are companies that know very well how to leverage MBAs for their work and companies that have the wrong expectation. Either way you should not expect a detailed job description and guidance throughout the internship. Try to think like you’re the ‘owner’ of your own part of the work. You should run the process, manage resources and be responsible to the final output. If you think the work you are doing is not creating value for the company, shift the focus and discuss with your supervisor. You could also ask to take part in other projects if you think your best work will be done there. People will appreciate the intern who is a self-starter and needs minimum supervision from the boss. Besides that, you should also take initiative in helping your colleagues with their work. Be generous with your time and forge a good working relationship with people at every level of the company.
Be Curious. An internship is the best opportunity to learn and explore different parts of the company that you are interested in. The fact that you are an intern gives you the chance to connect with top-level managers and people who you could learn a lot from. This is a low risk environment for you to ask all kinds of questions and reach out to people or teams that you may not necessarily have worked with directly but who have worked or are working on projects you are interested in. An internship is a mutual due diligence process for the company to know the candidate and for you to evaluate the company at the same time. By reaching out actively, you could get a better picture of the company and build connections for future career development. If you have no idea where to start, your fellow intern cohort who works in different position might be a good resource to ask baseline questions or refer you to the right people in their team.
Expand your local network. During the internship, you are not only evaluating the work itself but also the environment and local community that you will be living around. Find a group of local friends that will be able to show you what the city has to offer. You are signing up for a lifestyle as much as singing up for a job. Get a good test of the pros and cons of living in different neighborhood so you’ll make an easier decision when moving back for full-time. Another thing that I’ll encourage you all to do is to expand your network to the local professional groups. For example, if your internship happens to be around the bay area in California, pay extra attention to the local start-up or venture capital events. Build up your network in those 3 months you’re interning, you never know who could turn out to be of help down the road.
Good luck with your internship and enjoy the summer!
Learn how to make the most of your internship. Connect with Marty on Evisors.
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Author's Bio: Marty Huang is a recent MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He has had summer internships at McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Google. He recently turned an internship into a full-time position at Google in California.