Pre-MBA Internships: Kellogg Admit Shares Key Lessons

Kruti Malkan. Courtesy photo


Kruti Malkan has advice about pre-MBA internships for the admits of the next B-school admissions next cycle. For starters, know what you want to do post-MBA. And then realize that startups in any industry often need help and will gratefully accept it.

“I would say the number one thing to do is you know what you want to do post-MBA,” she says, “and know what your internship is going to be in. More than likely, many of my fellow MBA classmates are switching their careers in some way, shape, or form. So if you have the time on your hands, even to work 10 hours a week, you may be completing your job but more than often, most people quit at the start of summer. So if you want to speak to or reach out to a startup that maybe has an alumni from your school, more than likely they’re going to accept you because they need help and they need any hands possible that they can get.

“So I think the one thing to do is reach out, and you need to have a clear direction of where you want to go, but if you want to build certain skillsets and if you want to have something on your resume that you would never have had had, that — as well as building connections for mentorship — that can help you in the future. That’s something that I would tell incoming students to do, because I honestly think that that is extremely valuable and just as valuable as maybe attending a conference.”

Malkan attended conferences, too, and though they were online, they still helped her. But her internships were far more valuable.

“I personally feel like I gained some things out of it and then had some interviews out of it too, but I did not gain as much as I should have if I was doing an internship, really working with people that have already been in the same shoes as you,” she says. “I think that that’s something that is really valuable to me, because I was working every day with somebody who went through the same process that I would be going through. I like to prep and I like to prepare myself for what’s coming at me, so setting aside the enhancement of the skills that you’re going to gain — it’s also working with people and you can see hands-on what they’re going through, what you will be going through over the next two years.”


Coronavirus has been a nightmare for business schools and MBA students alike, for myriad well-documented reasons. But in one small way, the pandemic has helped those seeking more and better experiences: by allowing employees to remain in their jobs while interning at other companies. In Malkan’s case, she was able to do two pre-MBA internships, something she probably could not have done in 2019 — and maybe could not do if she were starting school in 2022.

“Remote was actually better for me because I’m still working my full-time job at this date and time,” she said shortly before leaving for Northwestern Kellogg’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. “And so, because I was working my full-time job and doing these two internships, it was perfect that they were remote.” Still, there must have been time constraints — how did she handle them?

“What we did was, I scheduled weekly meetings with a couple of people on the team so that I could make sure that I was getting my work done,” Malkan says. “I was being involved in everything else that was going on. And I thought it kind of worked out in my favor, being remote, because I could work my full-time job as well as work 10 to 50 hours with these other companies.

“That’s kind of why I wanted to take advantage of this, because I know in the future, maybe you might get to travel, but this year with Covid still being here, I wanted to take advantage of getting those hands-on experiences and increasing my skillsets in different areas that I have now already.


How can schools help facilitate pre-MBA internships? And did Kellogg encourage Malkan in her plans?

“They encouraged me to do a pre-MBA internship, but in the end it was my own decision to find it myself, which is why it was a little hard for me because I couldn’t find a lot of the information,” she says. “So I saw that there was a gap on it. And the information that I saw, which were the two articles that I saw, I happened to at least reach out to them, and>>>>>>

I think (Chicago) Booth has a pre-MBA internship program, but I haven’t really heard of other top MBA programs. Kellogg doesn’t have a pre-MBA internship, so they’re kind of like, ‘We would love for you to do one, but you need to find it on your own.’ And so that’s kind of the way that I went – I did it on my own and specifically found something that I can relate to and really am passionate about, too.”

Schools could do more, she says.

“I think that Booth does a really good job and I was debating between Booth and Kellogg for a really long time, because Booth has a summer program. That is something that I wish Kellogg had done because there are so many startup companies where people are gladly willing to take on fellow Kellogg students to help grow their business and scale their business in which there’s no information or resources out there for us to sell.

“For example, the company that I work for LUKH. Karen is going into her second year, and she needed all the help that she could get in order to grow her business. Whether it was five months, whether it was two months, whether it was three months, she needed somebody on her team. At Kellogg, there are startup companies like hers that are just lifting themselves off the ground. And I think that it encourages us students to help other fellow students out, as well as increase a skillset at the same time.”


Pre-MBA internships are about those two things: making connections and increasing skills. Startups are the best places to do both, Malkan says.

Paintru has a Wharton alum on the team, and they also have a (Michigan) Ross student on the team, and I’m working with the Kellogg student at LUKH. So I think working together to create something huge is the thing that can enhance and really increase the amount of mentorship that you have throughout your career.

“But on the flip side, for me it’s more about gaining those specific or built-in soft skills. I’ve never worked for a startup company, I’ve never worked with a few people at a time managing an entire business. So I think, for me, it really taught me collaboration and learning all of these different moving parts, rather than working for a larger company where I’m only stuck into one specific area.

“I think that people need to understand: this is something that is a very open option for people to go into. Yes, you can participate in conferences. But those are only two or three days in the entire summer. So I think if you have time, you can leverage a pre-MBA internship and utilize it to create something big, let alone learn something new.”


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