How to Make the Most of Your MBA Internship

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Pursuing a collegiate education in business comes with a variety of rewarding opportunities. From attending lectures by industry-leading professionals to completing coursework that provides you with the knowledge needed to become a successful and confident professional, earning a Master of Business Administration degree better equips you to potentially become a key stakeholder and decision-maker down the road.

Another simple yet impactful way to strengthen your resume is to pursue an internship. With this real-world work experience opportunity, you can learn about an area of expertise that piques your interest. It’s a chance to meet like-minded professionals, gain practical skills, and see for yourself what a full-time position could look like after completing your degree.

While classroom learning can give you the foundation to pursue a new career path, an internship provides a firsthand look at exactly what you’ll be doing. Some things simply can’t be taught in the classroom. Face-to-face interaction and real-time experience in your field will give you the tools necessary to be successful in the workplace after earning your degree.

Below, we’ve highlighted how valuable an MBA internship can be, the qualities of a good internship, how this opportunity can help you along your career journey, and details to consider as you get closer to graduation. Let’s take a closer look:

How can an MBA internship help me?

An MBA internship is a great opportunity to take your career to new heights. Apart from great job performance, there are several creative ways students can get the most out of their time as competitive interns.

For example, by completing an internship at a marketing firm you can not only earn credit toward graduation, but you can also work directly with high-level executives and impress them with your professional etiquette, level of skill, and overall knowledge of the industry. This gives you the opportunity to build strong connections in in the workplace, and you may also have a foot in the door if future opportunities arise at this employer.

Even if the company you intern for isn’t hiring, networking is a major upside of an MBA internship. While you’ll gain familiarity with people in the industry by conversing with your professors and faculty and making friends with other like-minded students, the connections you form in your internship can be unmatched. Get to know your colleagues and stay in touch with them, because if a job that matches your interests opens up down the road, a colleague could bring it to your attention.

What are the qualities of a good internship opportunity?

When choosing interns, there are certain qualities that a company is typically seeking. Employers often seek someone who has strong interpersonal skills, can multitask and take constructive criticism, communicates effectively, and is punctual. Having specific industry knowledge and proof of educational experience is helpful, but those core soft skills are essential.

Understanding what type of intern you need to be is critical, but you should also hold the types of internship you are applying for to the same standard. There are certain qualities of a good internship that can be valuable from the moment you apply to well beyond your last day in the office. Here are some of the key qualities of a useful internship:

Leaders have specific goals for you.

  • The stereotypical intern fetches coffee and answers phone calls. Make it known that you are pursuing an internship with purpose, and that you want to get as much out of the experience as possible. An internship where leaders are willing to walk you through the day-to-day expectations shows that they understand the value you are seeking out of the experience. The better they prepare you for the working world after earning your MBA, the more confident you can feel applying for that dream job you’ve been wanting for years.

There’s an opportunity for growth in the company.

  • If the internship you are interested in pursuing advertises the position as temporary with potential for part-time or full-time work, this is something to consider. Having an internship while you pursue your MBA is valuable in that it gives you that real-world experience the classroom simply can’t, but if there’s a possibility the company can hire you after graduating — or maybe even while you’re still finishing your degree — then you’ve landed yourself the perfect internship.

There are people involved who are willing to work with you.

  • An internship that is willing to pair you with a mentor throughout your time with the company can be extremely valuable for your professional growth, giving you a firsthand look at the company culture and expectations while helping you grow your industry knowledge and skill set.

The value of an MBA internship

Male employer training female intern

Build your network

An MBA internship is the perfect time to prioritize meeting new people. Unlike at conferences and expos, you may be more open to conversations in an office setting. An employee-to-employee connection is also easy to nurture due to the shared bond and experiences. Because of this, you should take the time to strike up conversations with the people around you, including individuals around the building during lunch breaks.

Rebrand yourself

For some, an MBA degree means a new professional image. This is common for career paths that require an MBA or higher credentials. An internship is a great time to test the waters in seeing what parts of yourself you’d like to rebrand. Because the level of responsibility of interns is not as heavy as that facing a regular employee or senior staff member, you have space to think. This is especially true if you’re only using the internship program as a stepping stone to complete a set of requirements, and not as a serious career opportunity.

Gain helpful feedback

A vibrant MBA internship is an ideal setting where candidates can apply their newly honed skills. One of the best ways to know if you’re doing something right is by asking for feedback. Managers and mentors with years of experience are usually open to providing insights and guidance to interns through Q&A sessions, feedback reports, and evaluations.

In most cases, you don’t want to just be doing something right; you want to be doing something extremely well, or even to near perfection. Constructive feedback from other professionals can help you fix any weaknesses you may not have addressed during MBA lectures and group activities. Taking the initiative to gather as much information as you can about your performance during an internship is the first step in making the transition from an MBA graduate to a highly credentialed professional.

Seek new career opportunities

Not all MBA graduates are business owners or have extensive work experience. Some candidates intend to use their MBA degrees to supplement their efforts in moving up the ladder to better-paying positions. Some companies that are concerned about the quality of their recruitment processes first look at their interns and offer them jobs before opening up vacancies to the public. If you’re interested in becoming part of the company you’re doing an internship for, it is best to let the recruiter know upfront and get to know the other employees.

Candidates who are serious about their careers should consider aligning their MBA internships with their professional goals. Creating opportunities for yourself at an internship level is the edge you need to stay fresh and competitive.

When should I start looking for an internship?

When it comes to finding an internship, you need to make sure you can start and complete it before graduation. Otherwise, there are no other specific requirements on timing. It all comes down to your schedule.

The MBA program at the Carson College of Business at Washington State University is offered 100% online. It’s designed to provide you with the flexibility to manage your home life, continue working your full-time job, or consider pursuing an MBA internship. Once you do your research and find an internship that meets your wants and needs, discuss scheduling requirements and the length of the internship with your contact at the company so you can get a better idea of when you can get started.

Prepare to further your career with Washington State University

Earning an MBA is one of the most important factors to consider if you’re searching for a greater career opportunity after finishing your undergraduate degree. But before you can increase your earning potential, building a strong foundation by earning your degree and pursuing an MBA internship program is something to consider.

At the Carson College of Business at Washington State University, we’ve designed a curriculum that not only can help you revolutionize your chosen industry, but also give you the tools and resources needed to become a successful business leader. We encourage interested students to pursue an MBA internship, but we also present real-world experience opportunities through the capstone project and final presentation you will complete when you reach the end of the MBA program.

The capstone project consists of creating a full business plan, which demonstrates your ability to condense all of the information learned throughout your MBA classes and best identify how you will utilize them throughout your career.

In addition to completing the program, we also strongly encourage students to explore a nine-credit graduate certificate, which is offered regardless of your concentration. We offer this option to current students, alumni, and even students who are still on the fence about pursuing an MBA and instead want to earn a certificate prior to enrolling.

Interested in learning more about the program? Visit the Washington State Online MBA to explore your options today.


Recommended Readings:

Why Marketing Skills are Necessary, Now More Than Ever

How Hard Is An MBA Online? Here Are 3 Things You Need To Know



3 Things You Need To Know Before Entering An Online MBA Program, Washington State University

The Benefits of Doing an Internship, The Intern Group

Graduate Certificates, Washington State University