Even With An MBA, It’s Hard To Switch Careers

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How to Prepare for an MBA Internship

Welcome back! Did you have a relaxing holiday? Good. Now, brace yourself. This is when the fun begins.

If you’re a first year, you probably have one thing on your mind: An internship. Chances are, you’ve already landed some interviews. And you can rattle off all the standard interview advice: Show passion, tell stories, and set yourself apart. Not to mention, career services has probably prepped you on how to have a successful interview: Understand the expectations, seek feedback, and make an impact. But these suggestions skip over a key point in your development: spring semester.

If you played sports, your coach probably drilled home that games are won during the offseason and practice. You could apply that truth to internships too. Most people know what to do. But they don’t always do it. Maybe it hasn’t become second nature after hours of repetition. Or, they simply believe they can improvise and glide through. When game time comes, their fundamentals are usually the first to go…followed quickly by their composure and confidence.

So think of spring as practice before the big internship. Instead of pumping iron and running fartleks, you’re honing your leadership and teamwork abilities. That was the main idea behind a recent article from U.S. News & World Report. According to Mark Brostoff, the associate dean at Washington University’s Olin Business School, finding an internship doesn’t stop the process. In fact, it accelerates it. That’s why students should use the resources around them to prepare for their internship.

Choosing the right classes is one strategy. For example, Bukky Olowude, a 2014 Yale MBA grad, encourages students to load up in their specialization. By mastering the basic vocabulary, tenets, and processes, students can reduce their learning curve and ease their transition. She also cites a competitive strategy course, with its bedrock and universally-applicable concepts, as valuable preparation for higher level assignments. Brostoff adds that a communication course would be especially helpful for aspiring managers.

Case competitions are another tool to apply what you’ve learned before an internship. These competitions, where students must work together to solve a business problem, are great training for the type of work reserved for summer interns. The same applies to student clubs, where you can polish your leadership skills by running meeting, events, and even trips. Participation in competitions and clubs can also give employers a well-rounded look at potential candidates, says Keith Bevans, a partner and global head of consultant recruiting at Bain & Company. “We don’t ask for the transcript, and we’re not allowed to get the grades. So it’s not about the classes,” Bevans tells U.S. News.

Finally, career services centers are often untapped resources for internship prep. For example, Olin’s Brostoff notes that their center can help students with everything from presentation skills to networking with alumni. Students just need to take advantage of these services, rather than viewing center staff as recruiters whose sole purpose is to help them land jobs.

Bottom line: If you’ve nabbed an internship, the spring semester isn’t the time to rest on your laurels. Instead, it is an opportunity to prime yourself for the ultimate job interview.

DON’T MISS: MBA INTERNSHIP ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS

Source: U.S. News & World Report