Jumpstart Your Post-MBA Career with a Pre-MBA Internship

by on March 26th, 2017

Matriculating at the b-school of your choice is a tremendous achievement, but it shouldn’t be the end of your MBA preparation.

When you’re done celebrating with friends and family, consider a pre-MBA internship! Why? These programs can provide you with a network at your target post-MBA employer before you even step foot on campus, giving you a crucial edge over your new peers.

In the same way your stellar application essays set you apart from the crowd during application season, your pre-MBA internship helps you stand out at b-school.

What is a Pre-MBA internship?

Well, it’s an internship that happens before your MBA.

That’s the easy answer, but actually “pre-MBA” programs break down into TWO distinct categories which can be a biiiiiit confusing. Pre-MBA internships programs are indeed “before your MBA,” but some of them are proper internships lasting 1-3 months, while others are introductory programs, lasting only a few weeks or days.

Orientation programs are shorter and more about “getting to know you” and having fun. The objective of these programs is for potential post-MBA job applicants to get a sense of the company and to place the company solidly on their radar. They’re a marketing opportunity for the company, but a valuable networking opportunity for you (in addition to being great fun).

Here are some example pre-MBA “orientation” internships:

More rare are full internships, which take place in the summer before matriculation. There are structured programs offered by larger, more established companies, for example Barclays MBA Ambition, however most full-time pre-MBA internships are not “official” internships, but the result of motivated applicants cold-calling, cold-emailing or networking to get that first foothold in their target industries.

Obviously these pre-MBA internships are harder to find, but they can also pay off the most. They, along with your first-year summer internship, give you two chances to make an impression on your target post-MBA employer.

Who are pre-MBA programs for?

Orientation programs, given their brevity (1-7 days), are useful to anyone. The limited scope works even for people who can spare only a day or two on their way to B-School. However, the orientation material covered is particularly useful for out-of-industry applicants and non-traditional MBA students who might not be as familiar with the basics. Also, keep in mind that many of these orientation programs are diversity-related (open only to specific minority groups).

Full-time internships are especially valuable to career-switchers, and especially those switching into traditional pre-MBA fields: for example, Consulting, Finance, Healthcare, and Tech. Since many MBA students have prior experience in these sectors, career-switchers need as many internships as they can get in order to compete. Similarly, these opportunities are also especially valuable for non-traditional applicants who may lack the corporate network that many of their peers already possess.

What are the advantages of a Pre-MBA program?

The advantages are many, especially if you are changing industries. You get a jump on your peers, a network in your target industry, insight, experience, and another prestigious program name on your resume. So get to it! (And just when you thought you were finally done with those pesky applications … )

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