Exclusive Survey: Most MBA Summer Internships Impacted By Pandemic

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Courtesy photo

It’s those sorts of initiatives that have likely helped business school career offices earn high marks in our survey. When asked to rate the helpfulness of their B-school career offices on a one-to-five scale, 30.28% of respondents gave their school’s career office a perfect “five” rating of “incredibly helpful.” Another 24.44% score their school with a “four.” And just 7.22% of respondents said their school’s career office was “not at all helpful,” with a score of “one.”

Besides calling on alumni, other schools have boosted established funds and fellowships like the Haas Social Impact Fund, which dishes out a pot of cash to MBAs taking internships in lower-paying or non-paying social impact internships. Stanford’s GSB has similar programs in the Social Management Immersion Fellowship and the Entrepreneurial Summer Program for students interested in working at an early-stage startup. Those programs have helped Stanford maintain internship rates similar to last year, according to the school.

“Our internship acceptance rates are looking similar to 2019,” says Jamie Schein the assistant dean of the Career Management Center at Stanford’s GSB. “More students are accessing matching funds through SMIF and ESP than last year, and students are very appreciative of the opportunities that our alumni community has sourced.”


Other schools — like the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business — have been creating funds for students that had internships canceled or rescinded. Ross recently launched its Business Consultant Corps, which will give $5,000 to about 120 rising second-year MBAs and undergraduate seniors to work on projects with executives at sponsoring organizations.

“Industry-wide a number of students have had internships affected by the pandemic and I was struck by a recent study where 64% of students having internships were canceled and had no alternative in place,” says Ross School Dean Scott DeRue in an interview with Poets&Quants. “Most of our internships are happening. But they are all virtual and they may be modified by the timing or duration of them. We wanted to mobilize to support students who were affected by the pandemic or wanted an alternative plan.”

UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business launched a similar fund — also giving out $5,000 stipends to rising second-year MBAs — called the MBA Summer Internship Stimulus Fund.

“We know that some companies are experiencing significant financial constraints right now and supplementing student compensation through this stipend program will help impacted organizations access Berkeley MBA talent for the summer,” Abby Scott, the assistant dean of Career Management and Corporate Partnerships at Haas said in an announcement from the school on April 27. “If a company cannot pay a typical summer salary, they can still hire a Berkeley MBA intern as long as they are contributing to student wages and meeting standards governed by employment law.”

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management’s Career Management Center recently created a “Hire Kellogg” initiative that partners with the alumni relations team to connect current students with alumni.

“In the past two months, through the Hire Kellogg initiative and ongoing conversations with our recruiting partners, our Career Management Center has uncovered more than 250 summer internship opportunities for our students,” says Liza Kirkpatrick, the managing director of Kellogg’s Career Management Center. “Success stories in the past few weeks include a student accepting a financial services internship with an insurance technology company in Chicago, and a senior product manager internship with a West Coast tech company. Our alumni have been incredibly active and eager to engage with Kellogg students right now. They are really demonstrating Kellogg’s pay-it-forward culture.”

In mid-March in response to the pandemic, New York University’s Stern School of Business created the SternWorks program to “ensure that every full-time MBA student who seeks a summer experience (or whose start date for an internship is delayed) will have one in order to skill build, create impact, and have the opportunity to give back to the NYC community during these extraordinary times,” a Stern spokesperson says. In three weeks, the school partnered with many stakeholders and created more than 100 projects and $600,000 to support MBAs this summer.


Poets&Quants reached out to each of the top-25 American business schools for this article asking how many rising second-year MBAs they currently have searching for internships to try to compare with the numbers we received in our survey. Most schools refused to release that data or didn’t respond to the request. Those that did say numbers of MBAs still looking for summer internships are low.

“As of March 27, nine students in our Full-Time MBA program were still seeking internships, but based on what we’ve experienced with companies, we expect to have all of our students placed by the end of next week,” a spokesperson from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business said in a statement sent directly to Poets&Quants.

Similarly, at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, a school official reports the number is currently less than 10 MBAs still seeking a summer internship, but the number is fluid and changing by the day.

According to Michigan’s DeRue, the number of MBAs that had their internships canceled at Ross was 22.

“I am delighted to report that we are very close to where we were last year at this time in terms of internship placements,” Doreen Amorosa, associate dean for Georgetown University’s McDonough Career Services, said in a statement to Poets&Quants also noting they wouldn’t release numbers until their annual career report is ready in October.

At the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, Graduate Career Services Director Mark Brostoff says as of today (May 27), 75% of the MBA Class of 2021 who are seeking summer internships or projects have offers. The raw number of still seeking interns is approximately 40, he says.

Also as of May 27, some 7% (or 17 first-year students) at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School have not reported receiving an internship offer. However, 11% (or 26 first-year students) have not reported accepting an internship offer. At Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, more than 97% of first-year students have internship offers currently and the remaining handful of students are reportedly working with the school’s career services to apply and interview for what has turned out to be a strong volume of opportunities, a spokesperson from the school says.

UC-Berkeley’s Scott says numbers are changing each day and she doesn’t have official numbers at the moment. Schools like Harvard Business School and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania did not respond to the request.


Still, many students are still seeking. And they’re being forced to face some things they previously didn’t think about — like switching desired industries or even taking unpaid internships. According to our survey, some 26.17% of respondents would be “very willing” to consider a different industry than their desired one because of the coronavirus pandemic. We asked current B-school students to respond on a one-to-five scale with how willing they’d be to change industries from their desired one directly because of the pandemic with one being “not willing” and five being “very willing.” In addition to the 26.17% that answered with a “five,” another 22.27% answered with a four. Just 15.63% — the lowest rate — answered with a “one” or that they’d be “not willing” to shift industries.

Stanford’s Yang is one of the students that says he’d rather not shift industries and that he’d be willing to work full-time on his startup before taking an undesired internship. Ames from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business says he’ll continue looking till June 15 when his internship at Kaiser Permanente was supposed to begin. If he doesn’t find anything by that time, he’ll reassess his options.

“There seems to be an ecosystem of people looking for work interns can do,” Ames says. “At this point, I’m not concerned about finding something but I am more wondering if it will be paid.”

Even with the slightly gloomy internship outlook, many MBAs are not concerned about 2021 job prospects. Again, when asked on a one-to-five scale how concerned they are about finding a job within three months of graduation in 2021, just about a fifth (20.95%) of respondents say they are “extremely concerned.” Some 19.37% answered with a “one” saying they are “not concerned” about finding a job in 2021.


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