Tips for Acing Your MBA Summer Internship

1. Network 

Ask a second-year MBA student what advice they’d give to someone who’s just secured an MBA internship, and you’ll hear “network.” Start networking now. Yes, you already have the job. And you may have networked to get the offer. But now you have to meet other employees at the company, learn how to excel in your role, and build connections across divisions. Informational interviews are a huge part of success before, during and after your internship. Play the intern card, ask questions, and use this opportunity to meet and learn from as many people as you can. 

2. Build a project timeline

Get clarity on expectations and final deliverables upfront. Sketch out a project timeline. Then get your manager’s reaction to it shortly after starting your new role. Set a cadence for regular one-on-one check-ins with your manager and ask who you should speak with to meet micro-goals. Show off the skills your MBA degree has trained you on and be a proactive leader.

3. Solve problems for your manager and your team

Like most employees, you were probably hired to solve an imbalance between too much work and too few employees to accomplish it all. Think critically about what work you were hired to make easier, simpler or better-delivered. If you identify a barrier for your manager or team, ask yourself how you can help. Be an asset by solving more than just the main problem you were hired to address. Instead of talking about the problem and potential solutions, develop a plan to solve for it. 

4. Think critically about what you want to be known for

Before you start your 10- or 12-week summer role, ask yourself what you want others to know you for. It’s tough to be good at everything. So decide early on where to focus your energy. Will you be known for exceptional presentations that sell ideas and win new business? Are you the person who connects people by hosting and organizing social events? Or are you an educator hosting educational lunch-and-learns? 

5. Explore beyond your office walls

If a summer internship takes you to a city that’s new to you, don’t forget to explore. Yes, getting the job done is important – but so is seeing life outside the office walls. Making new friends outside of work and exploring helps you keep inevitable challenges and roadblocks in perspective. It helps you cope with stress and connect with the community where you've relocated. 

6. Be clear about wanting the full-time job

Be sure to schedule a final review meeting and presentation with your manager. Invite your team to keep in touch. And, if converting to a full-time position is available with your employer, be clear to those reviewing your candidacy for a full-time position about whether (and why) you want the job. Does the hiring manager or recruiter making the final selection know you’re interested in being hired back full-time? Be clear about your intentions and make it clear you're worth hiring.


Answered: Why do informational interviews continue to play a role during my internship?

Informational interviews help you learn more about the company you’re working for, its employees, and industry competitors. They're a great opportunity to meet other employees at the company, learn how to excel in your role, and build connections across divisions. When you conduct an informational interview, have an end goal in mind. Learn how work is conducted at your new company or find your dream manager through connection-building.

Consider establishing an informational-interviewing rhythym. For example: plan to meet two individuals for 20 minutes each on a weekly basis. If you have a 10-week internship, that would total 20 informational interviews. Some interns conduct as many as 75 information interviews during their summer MBA role. Some conduct far fewer. Some also start before their official job term begins. It's up to you.

–By Miranda Taylor. Taylor is a 2020 MBA candidate. She is originally from Minneapolis, and worked as a science writer and digital content strategist in the health industry before coming to Maryland Smith to pursue an MBA.

Photo: Christina @ on Unsplash