What Are MBA Internships?
MBA students typically work as interns between the first and second years of their programs. Some MBA programs require internships as part of their curriculum. However, many MBA students seek out internships even when their programs do not have such requirements. Schools that require students to participate in MBA internships typically provide course credits for their work, as well as support in finding suitable positions.
MBA internships usually last 10 to 12 weeks and involve a work assignment in an organization related to one’s field of study. Settings for MBA internships can range from investment brokerage firms to healthcare organizations to retail companies. Students typically seek internships in settings that align with their area of specialization. However, some specializations, such as human resources management, lend themselves to internships in almost any field.
What Can MBA Interns Expect?
Job descriptions for MBA internships can vary widely. However, MBA interns can expect to work on relevant projects and assignments that allow them to apply their classroom learning to real business situations.
For example, finance interns may work on developing business investment recommendations. Business data analytics interns may design interactive dashboards that deliver self-service business intelligence tools to users. Marketing interns may conduct market research and market segment analysis.
Regardless of the specific assignments MBA interns work on, they will likely network with individuals across the organization, giving them ample opportunities to hone their:
- Problem-solving and analytical abilities
- Business expertise
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
- Understanding of key business concepts
MBA internships also help cultivate leadership and communication skills. While leading a product assessment or assisting with employee onboarding, MBA interns may set goals and timelines, facilitate group conversations, and build collaborative relationships. Additionally, MBA interns typically engage in work duties that exercise their hard skills in areas such as project management, search engine optimization, and risk management.
Top hirers of MBA interns include household names such as PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Amazon, and Google, according to Glassdoor. Nonetheless, many medium-sized, small, and startup companies also recruit MBA interns. Why? MBA interns provide companies with a rich pool of talent. Through internships, organizations not only find skilled help for short-term projects but also have a chance to try out these candidates and measure whether they may be a good fit as permanent hires.
such as providing students with hands-on experience in their areas of interest before even earning their degree. Landing coveted positions later in one’s career requires having built a history of work experience, while even some entry-level positions ask for prior work experience. MBA internships can satisfy such requirements.
Apply Classroom Learning in the Real World
MBA programs offer a foundation in everything from brand management to interpersonal management. However, students need to practice applying these concepts and techniques to actual business problems to get the most out of them. Through practice, individuals discover their strengths and weaknesses. They can also identify their gaps in understanding. This information can play a critical role in their growth and development.
For instance, MBA students may study the process of brand management in the classroom, exploring how companies develop pricing strategies and examining the steps taken to design effective packaging. During a branding management internship, however, when interns apply that classroom learning to actual products and services, they learn firsthand about the challenges that can arise throughout the process. They also discover nuances and details about concepts such as brand positioning and value that expand their ability to tackle brand-building projects in the future.
Offset the Cost of an MBA Degree
In addition to tuition and fees, MBA students have other expenses to consider, including textbooks and housing. On average, MBA students graduate $89,900 in debt, according to fintech lending firm Earnest. Paid MBA internships, however, can generate substantial sums to help offset these expenses.
While median wages for 10- and 12-week internships come out to around $13,000 and $15,000, respectively, top earners can make as much as $53 to $65 an hour. This amounts to between $21,000 and $26,000 for 10-week internships and between $25,000 and $32,000 for 12-week internships, according to 2021 data from ZipRecruiter.
Preview and Gain Exposure to Specific Fields and Jobs
Just as hiring MBA interns gives companies a preview of potential future employees, completing an MBA internship gives interns a chance to preview and gain exposure to a job and company. MBA internships enable students to explore specific areas of business and types of jobs. This can help guide their career goals and trajectories since it allows them to learn more about the available options and discover preferences they may not have been aware they had.
For instance, an MBA student who secures a project management internship may realize that their passion in the field lies in supply chain management. Or a student hired for a human resources management internship in a hospital may discover that they would rather not work in the healthcare industry.
The new industry knowledge developed during MBA internships provides professionals with useful information about how to shape their careers. It can also help them make decisions about where to work and in what to specialize.