Searching for an internship is much like searching for anything else: It requires vision, perseverance and guidance. I secured my 2020 summer internship in two short months, but that is not the case for everyone. I will share what worked for me during my internship search and talk about my offer.
Entering an MBA program reminded me of walking into a loud, light-filled carnival. Considering the MBA social events and organization/club opportunities on offer and deciding which concentration best fits the development of your career, there is quite a bit to take in. Within the first month of starting classes, corporations came to campus to court us. Company presentations were almost daily or nightly, and career fairs were available weekly. I did not want to miss out on any opportunities, so I attended as many events as my schedule would allow.
Vision is simply the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. In the months before the program started, I began to journal with the sole purpose of envisioning what impact I wanted to make in the world once the program was over. It sounds like a lofty task — and it is. Thinking about my future in that way required soul searching and understanding what mattered to me, which companies I admired and for what reasons.
Fast-forward into the first month of recruiting. I knew that those journaling exercises and conversations with people in careers that I found intriguing were crucial in helping me narrow my focus. With everything going on during the recruiting season, being focused was essential to securing the right internship. The internship search was very tiring, but all my hours were meaningful, and I’m glad for that. Although I didn’t have an industry preference, I knew that a leadership development program was the type of experience that I valued most. Using this criterion as my north star allowed me to weed out companies that didn’t provide that type of experience and saved me from fear of missing out (FOMO) when all my classmates were going to a very interesting company presentation.
During my internship search, I had my moments. I’ll share an example: There was a company I had been pursuing since the summer. The lead talent recruiter and I connected because we grew up in the same town. I had been in constant communication, had a preliminary interview and knew the company in and out. I loved what the company stood for, and if anyone asked, I told them that was where I wanted to be. After the final interview came and went, I received a disappointing email. I did not receive an offer.
Grit was one of the vital characteristics I needed to tap into in order to pick my head up and move on. I took actionable steps to revise my resume with both my career coach and peer coach. My peer coach agreed to do more mock interviews with me to help me prepare for behavioral and case-based interviews. I resolved to be the best candidate that I could going forward.
The Broad MBA’s core competency is collaboration. I am very glad that within our program, no one has to go it alone. With access to such a vast alumni base, the Russell Palmer Career Management Center and meaningful relationships with elite employers, the opportunities to receive support in the recruiting process were extremely meaningful. At each stage of the process, I had personal and professional relationships to lean on to help me make a sound decision. Professionally, there was a second-year MBA student or my career coach with whom I could discuss my options. Personally, my husband or mentor would help me look at the big picture, or the long game, as some would say. I had to make a tough decision to decline several offers from outstanding companies. It was the network around me that guided me to think in terms of intangible value over company name, recognition or pay. I had help in crafting decline emails to reflect my sincerity, and my career coach helped me ask for offer decision extensions. I learned so much from this stage.
The offer I accepted left me with no regrets. For me, the internship opportunity checked all my boxes, which goes back to the soul-searching summer. You may read this and realize that the summer is over and you only have a few days before you embark on a recruiting experience, and that’s OK. It just takes you sitting down and listing what matters to you as an individual, reflecting on your past professional experiences and listing your favorite parts. Write down how you would like to be mentored and a preferred location, if you have one. My internship fulfilled all of my must-haves and more. That experience is out there. Never settle.