Ivan Kerbel, CEO, Practice MBA
At the risk of sounding uninspired, I believe your first priority as an MBA intern is to get the full-time offer (if applicable). Whether or not you intend to return to the same employer, or even remain in the same industry, you’re best served by accomplishing the objective that reflects best on your efforts, on your school, and on the employer’s investment of time and effort to recruit you: Fulfill the potential that led you to be selected for the internship in the first place. You’ll be glad to have that option as you start the second year of school. A good way to make sure you’re on track to receive the full-time offer is to ask for mid-internship performance feedback and to know in advance the decision-making process and timeline for offers.
Beyond that, your goal should be to cultivate friendships. Identify and seek the support of a sponsor or mentor who will have the greatest influence on your experience (whether as your direct supervisor or not) both during your internship and in your post-MBA career if you return to the same organization. Equally important, forge close ties with and be of service to the members of your peer group…helping your fellow MBA interns perform well and succeed in their efforts is a great way to stand out as someone who is likely to become a future leader in the organization.
The last piece of internship advice, enjoy your internship simply for what it is…an amazingly compressed chunk of time in which you have an opportunity to learn new information, build your skills, take on new challenges, and get to know a new company, even as you are being vetted for a full-time role. It’s not likely that you will ever again have the equivalent of a 10-week tryout for a new position and/or career path. Savor as much of the experience as you can!
Jonathan Masland, Director, Career Development Office, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College
Networking is a never-ending and powerful process. That’s why before, during, and after your internship, you should network with your business school’s alumni at your firm. The key is to build a group of supporters who can help you receive an offer of full-time employment, serve as references, or become your colleagues and advisers later in your career. Come into your internship prepared by speaking with second-year students who previously interned for that firm and ask them what they wish they’d known when they were in your shoes. Once your internship begins, it’s crucial that you make the effort to find and meet alumni in that firm. Set up a time to grab coffee or lunch with them, get their advice, and ask them to introduce you to others in the firm who can help and support you. Creating and expanding a wide and vibrant professional network is one of the best takeaways from a successful internship.
Patty Pogemiller, Director, Talent Acquisition and Mobility, Deloitte
Deloitte’s business is based on building relationships that inspire confidence in our ability to lead our teams and advise our clients. One of the best ways to maximize internships is to take advantage of opportunities to network and create rapport with the people you might work with in the future and the leaders who will make the decision to offer a full-time position. Interns should take advantage of the numerous events and connections points their internships offer that help build these relationships.
We hire the best and the brightest interns to be part of our client service teams and expect them to contribute in meaningful ways. This includes bringing their ideas to the table and offering their input on the work their teams are doing. It’s a great way to get real-world experience and make a lasting impression on our leaders.
Sunshine Singer, Senior Associate Director and Investment Banking Advisor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Be proactive and transparent. If you aren’t getting the opportunity to show off or learn the skills you are there for, ask or volunteer for those types of projects. Make sure you demonstrate the skills necessary for the job so there is no doubt about your full-time candidacy. Don’t ever surprise your manager or team. Keep them informed on what you are doing and where you are in the task. That way you will know if you are on track or need to correct something along the way. You don’t want to get to the end of the project and realize you didn’t deliver what they were hoping for.
Keep track of your efforts and accomplishments in a document. This can help you highlight all you have achieved or learned over the summer to your hiring manager/decision-makers or to help you explain your contributions and skills in future interviews.
If you get the chance, volunteer for projects that expose you to different people and different skills. It will help you gain more support and expose you to more things that the company has to offer.
If other firms host events over the summer for interns at other companies, you should try to attend. You never know how full-time employment will go and want to keep as many doors open as possible.
Have a great attitude, you can learn something from every experience whether good or bad.