As soon as I heard the phrase “Pre-MBA” Internship…I knew I wanted one. Especially as a career switcher I thought it was important. It seemed even when I spoke to company representatives about my interests, they would try to steer me towards their more technical career paths (since I’m an engineer) or something in supply chain (my former work experience) because I fit the mold.
So for me it was crucial I get experience in what I THINK I want to do, just in case I didn’t like it. I’ve noticed now when I speak to consulting representatives and mention my DEMONSTRATED interest in economic development they steer me to their public sector branches, internships etc. Bottom line – the conversations have drastically changed. Which made me a happy camper.
Anyways below are some tips of getting a pre-MBA internship (at least tips that worked for me):
• Make a relationship map
I thought about everyone I knew, met through this process and if they would help me. Also, it keeps the lines of communication open.
• Research companies and apply
Sounds simple right? I applied to so many non-profits and governments, did a few informationals (I wish I did more) and just put my name out there.
Keep in mind that non-profits don’t function like traditional corporations. YOU HAVE TO BE PERSISTENT and PROACTIVE. If you aren’t into a very unstructured experience consider large corporate-esque nonprofits (example: American Red Cross), instead of smaller, stretched non-profits.
• Pitch your ideas
When I spoke to people, I pitched ideas on what I thought the organization needed. I did this to prove that I’m not going to be wasting either of our time and to show my passion.
• Read the NEWS
I know I’m beating a dead-horse. But if you are thinking about being in the non-profit/public sector knowing the headliners (no matter where you stand politically) is so important. For example, now that I’m working for the government, I NEED to know who are the leaders in surrounding cities, the state and the counties….I’ll be honest…this is NOT information I knew off the top of my head. Also, I needed to know about grant money for projects…so I needed to know what is going on in Washington too.
• TALK TO EVERYONE
I ended up getting my internship when I was just talking to one of my VERY good lawyer friends in NYC. She connected me to someone who lead the internship program. Even though I did all this legwork, its funny how opportunities can just line themselves up.
So what am I doing?
I’m working for the community and economic development manager for a city that is battling urban blight (aka lots of crime, arson, foreclosures, dilapidated businesses). So basically there’s tons of land that needs to be sold and where others see negativity…well that also means there’s tons of opportunity for long-term investments. Anyhow, so long story short, I’m assessing the city’s current holdings and developing a marketing plan to get real estate and business developers to buy our land! Sounds easier than it is…but I’m excited for the challenge and would LOVE to make this city some money!!