A master of business administration (MBA) is a graduate-level degree that helps workers advance their careers. MBA programs teach valuable skills that increase employability and earning potential. Many MBA programs require students to complete internships, which provide real-world experience and education.
During MBA internships, students learn new skills while earning money to help cover their education costs. Colleges and universities understand the importance of internships, too.
The University of Pennsylvania tracks its MBA student internships and outcomes. In the class of 2020, 867 MBA students completed an internship. Of these students, 798 actively sought employment after their MBA program, and 100% of those students received a job offer.
What to Expect From Your MBA Internship
Many MBA students pursue specializations in fields like finance, IT, and marketing. Learners typically complete internships in a setting aligned with their specialization. Common settings for MBA internships include hedge funds, insurance agencies, and investment brokerages. Students may also complete internships in fields like healthcare, technology, and retail.
Interns usually start with entry-level work before taking on more demanding tasks. Financial services interns may begin by analyzing data and creating financial models before creating investment strategies. In some cases, businesses use MBA internships as a type of training, extending full-time job offers to interns upon completion of their MBA program.
Full-time MBA programs often require students to complete an internship in the summer between their first and second year of study. Part-time programs may ask students to complete their internship closer to the end of the program. Full-time MBA internships generally take 10-12 weeks to complete, while part-time internships take longer.
What Will I Do for My MBA Internship?
What you do in an MBA internship depends on your role and the business. For example, a product management internship may task students with managing a hardware or software product. These interns must work closely with customers, IT departments, and executives.
Business strategy interns may help develop short- and long-term strategies for business development, product management, and partnerships. This role also requires students to work with marketing and public relations departments.
In Which Type of Setting Will I Work?
All MBA students should anticipate an internship that requires an on-site presence, but potential settings vary greatly. Financial analyst and manager positions comprise many internships for MBA students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 30% of financial managers work in finance and insurance agencies. Meanwhile, marketing interns are likely to work in an advertising or public relations firm.
Some specializations, such as human resources, can lead to internships in nearly every field. While the BLS reports that most human resource managers work for management companies, students specializing in human resources may intern for IT companies, healthcare providers, or the government.
How Long Will My Internship Last?
The length of an MBA internship depends on a variety of factors. Most full-time internships last 10-12 weeks, with students typically completing these internships during the summer. However, some programs offer internships during a traditional semester. These part-time internships can last anywhere from 3-12 months, depending on how many hours a week the student works. Some internships last as little as 3-4 weeks, especially during abbreviated winter breaks.
Large businesses generally possess well-defined expectations and internship lengths. Small businesses, on the other hand, may be new to internships entirely, learning with the intern along the way. While these internships could have indeterminant lengths, interns at small companies can often assume more responsibilities than they would at a larger company.
In some cases, a business may ask the intern to return for an additional internship. While not required to graduate, doing so can help students secure a position upon graduation while gaining valuable experience, additional income, and potential credit.
Will I Get Paid for My MBA Internship?
In exchange for their work, some businesses pay MBA interns. Pay varies by specialty. Consulting offers some of the largest salaries for interns, with monthly pay often ranging from $10,500-$19,000. Interns working in private equity, manufacturing, and consumer products earn around $6,600 per month.
The school students attend also influences the potential internship salary. According to a 2013 report, MBA students at Chicago University and Columbia University earned an average monthly salary of $8,000 per month, while students at Cornell University and the University of California Berkeley earned under $6,900, on average.
Not all MBA internships come with compensation, but some schools allow interns to earn college credit for their work, saving students on tuition costs.
Will I Get Academic Credit for My Internship?
MBA students often earn academic credit for internships. However, not all internships satisfy college requirements for credits. Before starting an internship, MBA learners should check with their academic advisor to see if it counts toward college credit. Even if the answer is no, students can still take advantage of the other benefits internships offer, such as valuable experience.
Some colleges require MBA students to complete an internship. In these instances, schools often ask students to complete an internship during the second half of their graduate degree, which may take a semester or more to complete. Institutions then give students an equivalent amount of college credit for their experience.
MBA interns earn credits based on the time spent and the material covered. While an internship could require well over 120 hours, the material may not reflect core MBA courses, and universities may only count the internship toward elective credits. Students should check with academic advisors before starting an internship to fully understand potential outcomes.
How Will My MBA Internship Help Me?
An MBA internship helps students advance their education and career through experience. An internship teaches real-world skills, and some internships expose students to specific resources or programs used only by select businesses or industries. For instance, a financial analytics internship might expose students to analytics software.
Compared to other disciplines, internships for MBA students are particularly beneficial. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, 57% of businesses offering an internship hired more than half of their MBA interns for full-time positions, compared to just 38% of non-MBA students.
Even if the internship does not lead directly to employment, it's a great way to boost a resume and engage in networking opportunities. Internship supervisors can also provide interns with professional recommendations.
When Should I Start Looking for My Internship?
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers begin recruiting interns eight months before the internship's start date. Most MBA programs ask students to complete an internship during the summer between their first and second years, therefore students should begin searching for an internship once they begin their MBA program.
Some colleges and universities use their extensive networks to place students in internships related to their specialization, which can save students time in looking for a potential placement.
How to Find MBA Internships
Students can use the following resources to explore potential MBA internship opportunities.
MBA Internship Databases
Operated through the education company Chegg, Internships.com offers a comprehensive, searchable database of internship opportunities, including an assortment of MBA internships.
Indeed lists many MBA internship opportunities. Users can refine their search by location, company, industry, experience level, and pay.
Another popular job database, Glassdoor posts many MBA internship opportunities. The site also allows users to set up email alerts to notify them of new opportunities.
LinkedIn offers MBA internship listings through its Jobs section. Users can filter results by industry, job type, function, distance, and experience level.
This exclusive, invite-only job site offers users the most elite internships and job opportunities, typically only available to graduates of the most prestigious MBA programs.
One of the top online job and internship databases, WayUp seeks to connect employers and current or recent students. The site includes substantial MBA internship opportunities.
- MBA-Exchange Created for current MBA students and graduates, MBA-Exchange works with universities and employers to connect students with MBA internships. It also offers fast-track leadership development programs.
- The Society for Human Resource ManagementBest for MBA students specializing in HR, SHRM has a membership option specifically for students. Members receive premium access to Internship.com and can post their resume on SHRM's job board.
- LinkedIn LinkedIn lets MBA students connect with potential employers. LinkedIn also has a Jobs section where students can discover various MBA internships across the nation.
- The MBA Association The MBA Association allows students to connect with current professionals to learn about potential MBA internship opportunities.
- YouTern YouTern empowers students to pursue internships and create lasting professional connections. The site's community includes college students, recent graduates, and professionals.