Top three pieces of advice for MBA internship success
It seemed like time flew by quickly when I started at Goizueta in August 2016. Economics, marketing and data analytics became my daily topics of conversation. Three weeks into the academic year, the first company presentation took place. Company presentations are a crucial component of the MBA internship recruiting process. In these hour-long chats, companies talk about their marketplace positioning, company culture and available roles. Between late August and November, I attended over 20 campus presentations by consulting firms and large-cap companies. Luckily, by January, I accepted an offer to join PwC’s Financial Services practice as a senior associate intern in New York City. Getting an MBA internship offer brought enormous joy; however, after the initial excitement, I began thinking about a new role with new (and higher) performance expectations. I want to provide three pieces of advice on how to prepare for and succeed in your future MBA internship.
First, I tailored my coursework during my second semester of business school to the work-demands of my upcoming summer internship. For instance, I registered for Financial Statement Analysis, which exposed me to MBA-level analysis of companies’ revenue drivers, accounting practices and taxation. All of these proved extremely beneficial as my summer consulting engagement focused on improving the revenue/loss forecasting processes for a large banking client. Several times during the summer I found myself knee-deep in the client’s financial statements, just as I did in FSA class. In addition, I also completed Goizueta’s IMPACT360 program, in which I consulted on a strategy engagement for an Atlanta bank. Being deliberate with my coursework selection provided me with relevant management consulting and finance experience that I directly applied in my summer internship.
However, technical knowledge is only one piece of a successful MBA intern’s profile. The relationships formed across your summer will be equally if not more important to success. Thus, I suggest you begin networking with future peers and superiors before officially starting your internship. For example, I held multiple “coffee chats” with current senior associates and managers at PwC to learn about the range of project work at my future organization. Further, once I officially started, I leveraged the Goizueta alumni network within PwC to ask for advice on internal networking as well as how to best contribute to my engagement team. With a little bit of effort, I formed one-on-one relationships with around 10 PwC team members who did not work directly with me. I believe such networking was beneficial not only for my job evaluations, but also because it was the best way for me to evaluate the culture and future career path at the firm.
Every MBA internship is different; however, my last piece of advice is to intentionally position yourself to make a meaningful contribution. No matter the field — be it consulting, investment banking or brand management — a successful MBA intern often gains a full-time offer because of the impact he or she had on the internship project. In my case, I took the initiative to create and present a forecasting model for the client’s quarterly tax expenses under three financial stress scenarios. While I contributed in any way possible across my summer project, I became memorable for the model I presented to the client. Such a milestone contribution, coupled with my technical knowledge and the mini-network I previously built, led to a full-time offer from PwC. While every internship is unique, I hope these three pieces of advice help you prepare for your MBA internship experience!