As you begin planning for your career beyond graduate business school, how will an internship fit into the portfolio of academic and personal accomplishments you’ll present to a prospective employer?
An internship in your industry of choice is a proven way to acquire real-world experience while engaged with your studies. It will help you develop on-the-job skills and industry-specific knowledge and offer access to a network of contacts that could lead to a future job, especially important if you plan to switch industries or careers.
Why Think About an Internship Now?
For one thing, many top companies are presently filling their internship spots for next year. More important, an internship may be your most direct route to a post-degree job. Employment and hiring data we collected this year from surveying business grads and corporate recruiters bear this out. Consider these findings:
- Recruiting among current and past interns is a common recruiting strategy. In fact, 84% of employers GMAC surveyed in 2014 told us they look to their interns when hiring. Employers in Europe and the United States report that internships are the No. 1 and No. 2 most effective way (respectively) for them to recruit business school graduates.
- More than two-thirds (68%) of corporate recruiters report their companies employed graduate business students as interns in 2013. More than half of companies (57%) employed MBA students as interns, and of these companies, 76 percent hired one or more interns for a full-time position.
- Internships may also help you expand your options in the job market beyond traditional sectors to fields such as manufacturing, health care, and technology. The graphic below shows the percentage of companies that offered internships in 2013 to MBA students. The largest share of companies offering MBA internships were in the lesser explored sectors of the business school job market: manufacturing (77%), health care (71%), and technology (63%).
Non-MBA (master’s) interns also see internships paying off in the job search: 29 percent of employers had non-MBA (master’s) interns in 2013 and of this group of companies, 68 percent hired one or more interns for permanent positions.
Internships Have High Job Offer Success Rate for Recent Grads
As a job search strategy, internships yielded the most job offers for class of 2014 grads, second only to use of a business school’s career services resources (59%). Forty-four (44%) percent of job-seeking grads in the class of 2014 used internships as a job search method, with a success rate (i.e., yielding the most job offers) of 49 percent.
Internships also ranked among the top three most successful job search methods for grads across many program types, including:
- Full-time MBA: Career services, internships, school job boards;
- Master of Accounting/Taxation: Internships, school job boards, career services;
- Master of Finance: Internships, search firms, networking with family and friends; and
- Master in Management: Career coach, internships, applying to companies directly.
Work Experience Is Key Factor for Hiring
The market for business school graduates is strong. Our blog on the 2014 hiring outlook[i] for b-school grads showed that 4 in 5 companies planned to hire an MBA graduate in 2014; and half or nearly half of employers also planned to hire graduates from specialized master’s programs in management, finance, accounting, and other business fields.
These same employers, however, regard past work experience to be one of the strongest indicators of future employment success. In fact, the top criteria hiring managers use when selecting b-school candidates to interview are all directly work-related—prior employer or industry, previous occupation, internships, years of work experience, proven ability to perform, etc.
An internship can help you stand out in a competitive job market and show a prospective employer that you have the requisite experience, skills, and expertise they seek.
Reach out to your school’s career services office as the first place to visit to explore available internship opportunities. Create your internship goal statement: Gain inspiration by watching b-school student and alumni video bloggers who share their insights on how internships helped them set the direction for their careers.