The internship. After a couple months of developing a solid network of industry alums, recruiting season will kick off. If you are going for the big three banking, consulting or CPG this will be a very structured process and take place in January to February generally.
The internship is very important for a couple reasons. First of all it will be nice to make some money again after taking almost a year off, and secondly it will be your first chance to establish yourself in your new industry of choice. At this point classes need to go on the back burner, but you need to be honest with your study group about this and make up for it later when they are going through the same process.
Once again you need to be well prepared for these interviews. You need to do plenty of background research on the company, as well as be well versed in the details of your resume. Be prepared to answer questions on the size, profit margin and revenue on past companies. If you do not know it, have a reason in hand as to why you cannot provide that answer. If you are going into banking for example, you need to have clear logic as to why, other than the huge paychecks, you want to spend 20 plus hours a day working in excel. I do not have the answer for you, so you need to come up with that one on your own.
If you are trying to do something that is outside of the common business school internships (my congrats first of all), this is when all of those contacts you developed will really come in handy. Hopefully at this point you have cultivated at least a handful of good contacts from the many informational interviews you have had. These good contacts are the people you should be corresponding with periodically to let them know you are ramping up efforts to find an internship and would appreciate if they would keep their eyes open for an opportunity. If the career you want is really hard to get into and you have limited relevant experience, you might also want to take a more aggressive step of trying to set up an academic internship. These internships are easier to sell to companies and a great way to get your foot in the door, plus your resume does not need to state “unpaid” on it.
In the mean time continue to go to industry event nights, which should be hosted by the clubs you are in. At this point you should be starting to narrow down your career path, which should enable you to drop some of the clubs and focus your efforts on the others.
If your career path is really a difficult industry to get into you might need to continue your academic internship through the summer and hope that they take some pity on you and pay you for your efforts.
See my other articles in this series: