What’s the Best MBA Internship?

Your MBA internship is the first real step of your post-MBA career, but what is the best MBA internship for you?

That depends, but Angela Guido is here to help weigh your career goals and experience as you decide where to spend that crucial mid-MBA summer.

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Back to the MBA crowd today, talking about how to choose from the baffling and vast array of options you're going to confront during your full-time MBA: Which internship is best for you? Going to lay out three different frameworks today to help you choose the best internship for you. You're going to have to do some hard work and thinking on your own at the intersection of these frameworks to really home in on the best internship for you. But I hope that these three decision frameworks are going to be really useful to you as you filter and sort through the options. Welcome back to Make Mondays Better. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, a Career Coach, an MBA Coach, a former Management Consultant and Recruiter of MBAs at the Boston Consulting Group, and a former HR Training Manager at KPMG, and I am here to help you be happier at work today or at least by Monday.


1. The Happy At Work Equation


Okay, the first framework is the happy at work equation. Let me lay out the equation for you really simply. You need four things to be happy at work: tasks you enjoy; working with people you like and respect; you need to have a meaningful impact; and substantial growth over time. This equation is really important to contemplate as you're thinking about your MBA internship because you're ideally going to want to maximize your satisfaction on all four of those dimensions in your post-MBA job full time, keeping in mind that your internship is a chance for you to sample a job to figure out how happy at work it's going to make you. So your first step is to really download the form below and think through what are the components that really make you feel happy at work. Start there. That's framework number one.


2. Think Of The Not-So-Near Future


  • Should you be bold & adventurous?

  • Or create roots in your target industry?


Framework number two is positioning your internship vis-à-vis the medium term, and in this regard, you really only have two choices, so you're going to have to decide which one is the right approach for you. As you probably understand, an MBA internship is a short-term, temporary position which may result in a full-time offer to join the company that you work at over the summer. Everybody who enters business school is in a different position. If you're sponsored and you know you're going to go back to your former employer and your former employer allows you to do a summer internship, then you're going to err on the side of being bold and adventurous in your summer. You're going to want to challenge yourself and do something really different. Stretch yourself. Give yourself exposure to something completely different so that you can expand your understanding of what makes you happy at work. This is the kind of tricky thing about the Happy At Work equation. It's a moving target. Every job you take expands and changes your knowledge of who you are and what you like. So trying something for the summer that stretches you in a new direction is going to really advance your self-knowledge and give you some key insights for your longer-term career, post whatever job you're already planning to take after business school. So that's one side of the spectrum. Opt for the internship that's different, challenging, interesting, something that maybe you're really curious about but you're not necessarily sure that you're going to commit to post MBA. On the other side of the spectrum are people who are making a radical career change and need to do everything possible to build their profile within their new industry before they earn a post-MBA job in the industry that they want to move into. So in this case, you're going to be relatively more conservative with your internship choice and go for something that is working directly with one of the companies you think you want to work with post MBA. Your best chance as a radical career switcher to earn a full-time job that you have less than extensive experience in, is to let them test you out over the summer. So you can do marketing, you can do a general management rotational program, you can do corporate finance, you can do management consulting, investment banking, whatever it is that you think you want to do post MBA. If it's a pivot, if it's a reasonably big step from where you're coming from, your best bet is really going to be to get the job you think you want full time as your internship. Prove yourself, earn the offer so that when you enter second year, you've got the full-time job that you came in to get. You know you're going to be successful in getting the post-MBA job that you want post MBA because you already earned it over the summer.


The Knowledge Paycheck


The third and final framework I want to present for helping you decide which MBA internship to pursue is that of your knowledge paycheck. I talked about this in my last video about being happy at work and finding substantial growth over the course of your career. Every job in a company is paying you in two ways. One, in cash, that's the money you take home at the end of the month. Two, they're paying you in knowledge and skills. And the more generally applicable the knowledge and skills that you're gaining early in your career are, the more earning potential you're going to have in the long run because you're investing in your own capacity now. So my advice to my clients is always to choose the post-MBA job, and therefore the MBA internship that maximizes your general human capital, that allows you to learn as much as possible that you can then use to have a greater impact longer in your career. This, by the way, is why 75% of MBAs from top-ten programs go into either management consulting, financial services, or the tech industry, because these are the three places where you can expect to gain the most knowledge fastest early in your career. And if you're getting a full-time MBA, you're still pretty early in your career. You're still at the point where you really don't want to focus on work-life balance. And I know that's a painful thing to hear, but you're going to be more satisfied and you'll have cushier, more enjoyable jobs in the longer term if you bust your butt now while you're still pretty young and vibrant to learn as much as possible, When you're 40, you're not going to want to climb a brand new steep learning curve, but wherever you are today, you've probably still got that energy and drive to really invest yourself in investing in yourself in learning. So I really encourage you to approach MBA internship and post-MBA job recruiting with a one-track mind, seeking the job that's going to allow you to learn the most, that's going to take you the farthest towards your long term ambition for impact. Again, management consulting, financial services, and tech are a really good place to start because from those three foundations you can go on to do any number of other things afterwards at a much higher level because of the knowledge you gain in the early years post MBA.

If you're targeting a post-MBA internship, take a moment and leave me a comment. Let me know which jobs you think are going to bring you the most happiness at work and allow you to maximize your knowledge paycheck. I would love to hear from you. And for those of you who are starting business school soon or are already in business school, please leave me a comment and let me know what career topics would be helpful to you in your quest to maximize the value and return on investment of your MBA. I've done it all. I got my own MBA, I failed to get an internship during my MBA but then I got great post-MBA job options, I've been a management consultant, I've been a recruiter of MBAs from top MBA programs, and for the last 15 years I've been a career and MBA coach helping amazing people like you achieve their career dreams. I can talk about any career topic you can imagine, so please leave me a comment and let me know what you'd like me to talk about in the future Make Mondays Better video. For all you MBAs out there, I'm wishing you the best of luck in your transition to business school, and I hope that every Monday from now on is better than the one before. I will see you next week!

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder of Career Protocol

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