Considering a pre-MBA internship? Here are a few things to consider…
1. A pre-MBA internship is ideal for career switchers – and the majority of full-time MBAs are career switchers. An internship can help bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in December and January before you start submitting summer internship applications. Consider a pre-MBA internship if you’re trying to change two or more of the following factors: industry, function, or geography (especially if you’re an international student trying to work in the US).
2. A pre-MBA internship is a great if you have an interest in a particular career path and want to try it out before business school in a low-risk setting. It gives you the opportunity to test out a career to see if you like the work and want to invest energy into recruiting for that career path in the fall. At the same time, it’s super low risk because if you don’t like the work, you can leave it off your resume without anyone questioning the gap.
3. Another big advantage of the pre-MBA internship is that it offers a quick way to recalibrate your resume. You can add a new job title to the top of your work experience – the most visible real estate on your resume. This is especially important if you’re looking at a career switch where the skills needed are markedly different, like finance into marketing, or military to private sector, engineering to human resources, or PR into consulting.
4. A pre-MBA internship is a great way to upskill, helping you to gain experience that employers value. Perhaps you want to learn Google Analytics or make pitch decks or do budget management. A pre-MBA internship allows you the opportunity to practice these skills in the real world – not just learn them in theory. Then you can have them in your back pocket (and on your resume and LinkedIn) for recruiting.
5. Finally, a pre-MBA internship will expand your network, which is super important given that the #1 way that MBAs get jobs is through networking. In addition, you may gain valuable mentors, who will help you through business school and beyond.
1. Pre-MBA internships can be tricky to find. You’re not going to LinkedIn, typing, “Pre-MBA internships,” and finding thousands of results. Instead, most pre-MBA internships are scored through your personal network, whether that’s your college classmates, family, or former clients. You have to hustle to make it happen.
2. Pre-MBA internships tend to be really unstructured. You’re not going to get extensive orientation training, mixers, or any of the other curated experiences you’d get if you were going to a Fortune 500 company with a year of school under your belt. Instead, you have to be the driver of your internship, pitching projects, setting objectives, and measuring your own success.
3. Most business schools have both career and academic prep work for you to complete over the summer. If you take a pre-MBA internship and are working up until the day school starts, you may end up short changing that prep work, and scrambling during the first weeks of school.
4. Pre-MBA internships don’t usually pay well. They’re typically with a startup that needs talented, but cheap labor. If your focus is on saving money to finance your b-school education, your best bet is to stay at your current job and pitch a stretch project to your boss to help you to build your transferrable skills.
5. There’s an opportunity cost. The beauty of the summer before your MBA is that it’s one of the few times in your career that nobody expects you to be working. You can leave your job, relax, travel, and visit with friends and family. If you take a pre-MBA internship, you’re committing to working for the summer, which means you don’t get to enjoy that break. And no need for FOMO – you can still take an academic internship during the school year to gain experience.
Finally, if you’re thinking about a pre-MBA internship but are feeling stuck, check out this decision tree:
Need help deciding what to do with your summer or finding the perfect pre-MBA internship? Shoot us an email.