Employers seek out successful MBA interns, and for understandable reasons. There’s nothing quite like real-world work experience to recommend a candidate. A student who has proved their value in an MBA internship is one step closer to becoming an asset in a full-time role (perhaps at the same company where they interned).
High achievers thrive in the business school classroom. Even so, it’s not enough to attend a well-regarded program like Howard University‘s or SMU‘s and earn excellent grades. The most sought-after MBA graduates also put significant time and care into finding summer internships with high-profile employers. Then they use their internship opportunities to build their portfolios and their reputations.
In this article on how MBA students can find a top internship, we’ll cover:
An MBA internship is a summertime job placement—typically between the first and second year of the degree program—facilitated by the MBA program. Internships are usually coordinated with a program’s curriculum and students’ interests to provide an experience well-integrated with the MBA program.
The most important element of the MBA internship is the real-world experience it provides. Many b-school students specialize in such areas as strategy, consulting, finance leadership, marketing, product management, and business administration. Internships deliver experience in students’ areas of specialization, affording them an edge in near-future job searches by teaching them field-specific skills and real-world problem-solving. Just as importantly, internships facilitate crucial networking with other summer associates and mentors among their employers.
While a three-month-long summer internship doesn’t allow for much rest in between busy semesters of challenging courses, they’re key to helping MBA graduates get better job offers, faster. According to NAACE’s 2019 Internship and Co-op Survey Report, 70 percent of employers offer their interns full-time employment, and 80 percent of students offered such employment accept. That means that over half of all MBA interns get full-time jobs directly through their internships. Becoming a summer associate—whether part-time or full-time—could be huge for your career.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (
Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. ( )
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Short answer? They might. While many MBA programs require internships and track outcomes, they’re not guaranteed to help you find one.
For the greatest number of options, pursue internship opportunities through job fairs, recruiting events, and job and internship boards. Employers begin looking for interns an average of eight months before internship start dates. You’ll need to get an early start on your internship hunt to land a plum position.
Your business school’s alumni network is a critical tool in your internship search. Employers—especially industry juggernauts like McKinsey, BCG, Deloitte, Amazon, and Google—will be inundated with applications from impressive candidates from all over. It’s important to stand out. It also doesn’t hurt to have a guarantor, i.e., a company insider who will vouch for your smarts, talent, and reliability.
It’s unlikely you’ve got uncles in high places at Goldman Sachs, Bain, and JP Morgan Chase. So, how to make a connection where there isn’t one? Alumni networks are great places to start. Advertising fills jobs, but networking fills more. Everyone benefits—you land a great internship, and your sponsoring alumnus gets points for recommending a fantastic intern (that’s you!). If you’re interested in mentorship during your MBA internship program, alumni are obvious candidates for the role.
Not all internships are created equal. We’ve listed some coveted internships at rockstar companies below.
Adobe interns participate in MBAs@Adobe, a professional development program for MBA students by MBA graduates. That means that the team that directs the MBA internship program consists of former MBA students who now work for Adobe. MBAs@Adobe facilitates additional career opportunities for MBA students and a deeper sense of community (read: network) among them. The highlight of the program is the MBA Intern Summit, a two-day retreat at Adobe’s San Jose California headquarters for workshops on leadership, business strategy, and building community.
Apple’s goal is to leave the world better than they found it, and they consider their interns an integral component of this mission. They expect their interns to be analytical, detail-oriented, and passionate about the customer experience. Sounds simple, but Apple prides itself on the kind of innovation, dedication, and customer-service savvy that revolutionizes industries. The company offers MBA internships in multiple specializations, such as procurement, supply chain management, product operations, and more.
Bend it like Bezos. The world’s largest online retailer looks for MBA interns who are interested in building and improving the customer experience as a whole, rather than focusing too much on a particular specialization or team. They offer internship opportunities in their Pathways Operations Leadership Development Program, their Retail Leadership Development Program, and their Finance Leadership Development Program, among others. Interns have the opportunity to work alongside senior leadership and have a significant impact on customers and the business itself.
The Facebook internship program—which the company describes as “the ultimate learning experience”—was named number one by Glassdoor two years in a row. Each intern, undergraduate or graduate, gets a 1:1 mentor and support from their manager. Most interns contribute to real-world projects in their first week. Plus, Facebook provides housing for on-site interns and automatically considers interns for return offers. Facebook is currently looking for various MBA interns, including a strategic sourcing manager intern, a global supply manager intern, and a data center strategic planning intern.
The opportunity to solve problems alongside extraordinary colleagues and further Google’s mission to provide an unbeatable user experience makes this company a top choice for MBA students. Google’s MBA internships emphasize putting students’ schooling to use on day one, meaning that if you’re looking for maximum real-world experience, a Google MBA internship is one to include among your search terms.
An MBA internship at McKinsey is one of your best bets for name recognition if you’re looking to go into consulting—the prestigious Columbia Business School named McKinsey and Company as the top employer of its 2019 graduates. Associate internships take place over ten weeks, exposing interns to various elements of the firm’s practices.
Who wouldn’t benefit from interning at the leading ‘Cloud first, Mobile first’ company? Microsoft looks for ambitious, passionate, curious MBA students to serve as interns called “business program managers.” Interns have the opportunity to work simultaneously across multiple projects, all essential to helping Microsoft empower the people and organizations that use their products to achieve more.
Nike calls its internship program a “critical talent pipeline” for future full-time jobs. The company prioritizes exposing interns to multiple teams and integrating them into the company community and business roadmap. Nike’s internship program also has a global reach, offering internships at its European headquarters in Amsterdam.
Hedge funds, healthcare, insurance brokerages, retail, technology—you get the picture. There are as many industries for an MBA internship as there are suits on Wall Street. Here are the top fields for MBA internships.
Work alongside full-time consultants, network and collaborate with experts at Fortune 500 companies, midsize firms, nonprofits and start-ups, interact with senior clients, travel, and conduct business analyses and financial modelling. Consulting is a dream job for many MBAs, and interning with a major consulting firm is one of the primary conduits to a first post-MBA job.
Recruiting for these much-coveted internships starts a full year in advance, during the summer before MBAs start their first year of study. Finance interns typically rotate through multiple functions, including business development, portfolio management, advisory services, investment analysis, and financial modeling.
Work with real-life healthcare professionals, partner with leaders for mentoring, explore the diverse facets of healthcare administration and hone your skills in premiere hospitals, private corporations, and non-profit organizations.
Marketing internships for MBAs are available in various functions, including communications (advertising, public relations), internet marketing (email, search engine, web production, social media), product marketing (brand management, retail), and research (market research, consumer analytics).
Technology is integral to every facet of modern business, from cyber security to database management to systems analysis to web development. An internship in IT or operations management will allow you to learn core technical skills and business operations, develop an understanding of how analysis and data-based projects create meaningful change and work with brilliant engineers on high-priority projects.
Boston is second only to New York and Chicago in employment for marketing and advertising MBA graduates. There’s also a high concentration of business analytics jobs for MBA grads. Here are some companies with locations in and around Boston that hire MBA interns:
MBA students specializing in marketing and advertising and consulting are likely to succeed in Chicago. Some companies hiring MBA interns in the Windy City:
Houston is the fourth-most populous city in the United States (after New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago). Intern there and you’ll have access to millions of people and thousands of businesses. Some opportunities:
A recent Glassdoor search for MBA internships in London yielded listings in consulting, finance, investment banking, and ecommerce. Opportunities include:
As you’d expect, Los Angeles offers plenty of opportunities to intern in the entertainment business. Other hot sectors include tech, finance, consulting, telecommunications, agribusiness, and healthcare. Employers include:
New York City is America’s finance and investment capital. You’ll find opportunities in many other sectors, including entertainment, business services, pharmaceuticals, retail, and tech. Employers include:
Seattle is legendary for tech innovation, and that’s where you’ll find many of the city’s most appealing MBA internships. You’ll also find opportunities in consulting, retail, and telecommunications. Options include:
With IT consulting as its fastest-growing industry, Washington DC is a great place for MBA students specializing in consulting to choose for their summer internship. Government and NGO opportunities abound here as well, naturally. Here are some of the (many) options:
Absolutely, and very well.
Intern pay varies widely because they are dispersed across so many different industries and functions. Management consulting MBA students are likely to make the most, with MBA interns in Deloitte’s internship program making an average of $11,380 per month and interns in AT Kearney’s program earning $11,500 per month. Meanwhile, tech MBAs make a median of $6,400 every month at Amazon and $8,000 monthly at Facebook MBA. There’s no guarantee you’ll have money thrown at you, but MBA internship salaries are typically at least reasonable. You may never be paid as well to learn again.
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