Pre-MBA Internship — will it help in my career?
Kudos to you for finally getting an invite from your dream B-school! While we know you might be excited, there are more things you need to think about- one of them is how to utilize the couple of months you get before you start school. Depending on what B-School you get admitted to, your classes might commence between April and August. Now, the traditional path would be continuing with your current organization for the next 4–5 months, taking a one-month break for all formalities and paperwork, and then joining the business school. However, there is another path that is quickly gaining popularity amongst b-school admits- that of the ‘Pre-MBA internship’
Who should do such internships?
As the name suggests, in a pre-MBA internship, B-School admits leave their current job and work as an intern for the 4–5 odd months they have left before they begin with their classes. However, here’s the catch- they intern in a career they aspire to get into post the MBA program. A pre-MBA internship is ideal for B-School admits who are looking forward to dipping their feet in the role they want to pursue after MBA to learn a skill set they haven’t gained before and improving their CV for potential placements after they finish their MBA program.
Anywhere from a month to six months is ideal as you might not be able to learn anything in less than a month and anything more than 6 months is more of a full-time venture than an internship. Ideally, many opt for a middle ground- doing a pre-MBA internship for 3–4 months and then utilizing the one month they have left to relax and do other formalities.
How do you scout for such internships?
You’ve to use your professional and personal networks to scout for these internships, and a good place to start would be startups. Alongside taking more risks, they are also more open to taking in people who do not possess required skillsets. You could reach out to founders on LinkedIn or contact your own friends who have startups. You could also reach out to alums from your B-school of choice for the same.
As with any internship, you’ll be treated as an intern- that is to say the compensation will be lower than the amount you were making as a full-time employee, and since you’ll be starting from scratch and testing the waters in a company you essentially have no idea about, you might feel out of place
A third drawback is that you might also miss out on a promotion, raise or bonus that was due after your significant contribution in your previous workplace
Now for the ones who don’t feel particularly excited at the idea of a pre MBA internship, an obvious alternative is to keep working at their current organization and taking up more challenging roles. The second alternative is to take up some part-time or online courses along with your current job. Let’s say you are a software developer whose post-MBA goal is consulting. It would be beneficial to research for some clubs or courses that deal with strategy, consulting and the like.
The third thing would be to leave the job early and take a couple of months to relax, rejuvenate and prepare yourself for the hectic program that awaits you. Detoxify your system, start a new hobby or travel- do whatever helps you release stress before the rigorous MBA program and your future career.
To summarize, a pre-MBA internship provides a great opportunity to professionals to test the waters for any career/function switch post MBA. However, it does have some monetary drawbacks and often pushes the applicants to come out of their comfort zone. So, the decision to pursue such an internship should be taken after evaluating the pros and cons at an individual level.