The MBA internship is one of the most important parts of your business education journey. It is a common element of many full-time international MBA programmes and it usually has its own dedicated spot in the curriculum. Let us look at some advice on securing the most suitable internship placement for you and making it a worthwhile learning experience, but also a stepping stone to your first post-MBA job.
An internship usually lasts between 8 and 12 weeks and takes up the summer break after the first year of the MBA programme, especially in two-year programmes. For MBA participants, it is the best way to apply what they have learned in a new professional setting and to experience a field or specialisation they are interested in. And for those who have already settled on their desired career path, the internship placement is also an invaluable opportunity to secure a full-time job after graduation. This is why the experience should not be overlooked and you should exploit all possible avenues to secure the most suitable internship option. Your arsenal may include previous work experience, the MBA programme or specialisation you have selected, your motivation and suitability for the job, future career aspirations and in some cases, an aptitude test score such as the GMAT or GRE.
What MBA interns advise
Be sure to make the internship experience worthwhile and keep up the hard work. To a great extent, your performance and suitability for the job position will determine whether the company will want to keep you as their full-time employee. Fortunately, there are many business professionals and MBA alumni who have shared useful tips and lessons learned with regard to their internship.
For example, Katherine Atchison who interned at General Mills told Forbes that it is a good idea to come up with a plan detailing your project goals and expected deliverables by interviewing your manager, especially if you are not provided with such a document on day one. She also stressed how important it is to be able to take negative feedback with a positive attitude. This will demonstrate your perseverance and willingness to improve. Mike Burke, who interned at Procter and Gamble, suggested similar advice. He told Forbes:
It is okay if you make mistakes – just own up to them and figure out what you want to do to avoid them in the future.
Finally, according to an article for Poets&Quants by Zach Mayo, CEO of RelishCareers, it is wise to maintain connections even with the recruiters who did not offer you an internship placement. You never know if there might be a different job opportunity subsequently or after graduation.
Do GMAT and GRE scores have a role to play?
Since most MBA applicants are used to thinking of their GMAT or GRE score in terms of the B-school admissions process, you might wonder whether it will have any use later on in your career. Aptitude tests such as GMAT and GRE are a great way (although not the only one) for admissions officers to get an overview of their applicant pool and to compare the strength of different applications in terms of the quantitative and analytical skills that are a prerequisite for success during your studies. Similarly, employers in some industries may be interested in the test scores of potential new hires or interns. The GMAT score is a good indicator of the test taker’s analytical and problem-solving skills so do not be surprised if some companies with a quantitative focus take note of your test performance.
Check out: The Value of an MBA Internship
In particular, firms operating in the finance and consulting industries are known to be among those that most often take the aptitude test scores of job applicants into consideration. According to the test preparation provider Admit Master, the interest in test scores by firms in consulting, investment banking, audit and accounting has even become more significant since the addition of the Integrated Reasoning section in the GMAT. They explain:
This section asks candidates to solve 12 mini business cases and provides a good indicator for a candidate’s ability to analyse and interpret data from different sources, such as graphs, charts, emails, memos, etc.
Even in cases when the test score is not considered by recruiters, keep in mind that the preparation and effort you put into taking the GMAT or GRE will impact both your academic and professional performance. Since aptitude tests assess skills that are essential for any managerial or business position, your learning curve when sitting the exam will be very helpful later on in your career. Indeed, a study conducted by GMAC (Graduate Management Admission Council) revealed that nearly 70% of the surveyed test takers thought that the skills measured by the Integrated Reasoning section are relevant to graduate management education and the corporate environment.
At the same time, it is important that you do not neglect the rest of your corporate profile and your overall CV/resume. Many inexperienced professionals ask “Can my GMAT score compensate for the lack of leadership experience?” The reality is that the GMAT or GRE score will not be the only criterion taken into account for MBA admission and by corporate recruiters – it is always the full picture that counts. For instance, if you have a 700+ GMAT score, do not hesitate to include it in your CV/resume or job and internship applications. However, make sure the rest of your motivation is just as impressive and showcase how your test performance complements your business experience and career aspirations.
Check out: How to Boost Your Post-MBA Job Prospects
With or without a high GMAT score, it is best to prepare a coherent and well-polished candidacy for your MBA internship. Getting a spot in your desired organisation will be no small achievement and it may open the door to your next career step.