Our team has worked with a lot of MBA applicants, candidates, and graduates over the years, and we asked them for their most powerful internship lessons. They shared the following:
1. You won’t learn to love it: if you were, let’s say, “less than enthusiastic” about your internship, that’s one of the most valuable lessons out there. If you didn’t love it this summer, you won’t love it full time. Only you can say whether it was the specific company, the position, or the industry as a whole that turned you off – but don’t ignore any feelings of dissatisfaction that may have been there!
2. Keep in touch: staying in contact with your mentor and others you met through your internship will help you whether or not you received an offer. If you are going back full time, it will keep you top of mind and make staffing you easier; if not, it can help you with networking in both the short and long term.
3. Take initiative: every year, some interns end up with limited direction with regards to what is expected of them over the course of the summer. It’s frustrating in the moment, but it can provide valuable lessons about how to step up to a manager to ask for clarification; how to seek out other support throughout the company; and how to move forward with a proposal that you think is worthwhile, even without having gotten the “official” ok to do so.
4. Branch out: for as much as MBA students are told to get out there and network, learning how to meet new people throughout your place of employment can be uniquely challenging. Many interns learned valuable lessons about how to network with people throughout the organization, making connections at all different levels in a variety of groups. Work with something in a different department? Invite them to coffee. Get invited to a seminar? Prioritize attending, and plan to ask at least one (educated) question. Little actions like these, replicated regularly, will help establish your reputation and open up new opportunities.