Internships: Not just for undergrads

Jul 19, 2011
Tags: Business School, Career, Internships, School Selection

The internship: The exchange of skills and work for experience using those skills and access to potential mentors…and potential new opportunities. 

Internships are critical for skill development and career enhancement in real-world settings, whether you want to enhance your career or change it. The hours you spend interning during your graduate business program could give you a chance to try on a new job role, focus your career goals, and see if a company feels like a good fit—all of which could be essential if you hope to break into a new industry or change job functions. 

Experience wanted

An internship expands your portfolio of work experience, the one thing that employers tell us they seek in potential MBA hires (in addition to the obvious: business skills and knowledge). In 2011, 41% of hiring companies we surveyed said they’ll want at least three to four years of experience in their new MBA hires—nearly a third (32%) would like more than five years of experience. If you want to take your career in a new direction, where are you going to get that experience…before you’ve worked in the field? 

Our data suggest that interning in your preferred industry is a proven way to gain a leg up in the marketplace. This year's grads who did an internship were 26 percent more likely to have a job offer upon graduation than their internship-less classmates. In the class of 2011, 42% of grads had interned somewhere (most of those interns were in one- or two-year, full-time MBA programs). 

Recruiting grounds 

In 2010, the average number of interns employed per company, worldwide, was 28. Among these interns the success rate for acquiring a full-time, permanent position with the company was pretty high: Globally, 60% of interns who applied for full-time, permanent positions were hired. Check out the hiring rates by industry for these students:


Know your goals, determine your outcomes

Knowing which industries are most likely to use internships for full-time recruiting is essential to plotting your job search strategies. It’s not just about the employment goal, though—the learning goals you set for your internship will influence the success of the outcome. 

A few years ago, we published a research study on whether internships are effective in helping MBA students realize their career ambitions. We found that it really depends on the goals you set from the beginning. B-school students strongly oriented toward developing job competency (honing specific job-related skills), learning about job opportunities within a specific company, and expanding their knowledge of careers in the industry reported the most favorable outcomes in terms of satisfaction and potential job offers. Short story: Before Day 1 of your internship, decide what you want to learn as an intern and how you will use that new knowledge to reach your ultimate job goals. 

Want to learn more? Dig deeper into and find out what employers seek in new MBA hires

 -Research Center at GMAC