It’s summer time which means incoming international MBA students are already preparing for their big adventure abroad. If you’re an international MBA student moving to the US, your adventure will include landing a US internship to get US work experience. The MBA internship search is a competitive process, combining equal parts strategy, creativity, and luck. It’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
Each year international MBA students succeed in finding their ideal internship in the US. Successful international MBA students start early. They build relationships with everyone, from their career services offices, to campus clubs, to employers and alumni who visit campus. They learn everything they can about how to search for internships in the US.
Finding your dream internship in the US requires more than a good resume or attending a good school. You must learn about work authorization, practice networking skills, and build relationships with companies that offer internships for international students. At the MBA level, international students are expected to match the level of preparation and professionalism of their American peers who have spent many years to preparing.
Developing a process and checklist makes the internship search for international students a little bit easier. After all, moving to a new country is full of unknowns. This timeline is designed to take the mystery out of the MBA internship search process. It will keep you organized and on track so you don’t wait until April to start your CPT internship search. This timeline is aggressive. But that’s because the MBA job search is competitive. This timeline is designed to make you more competitive and help you get the skills you need to compete in the MBA internship process.
Fall is your busiest time to prepare for the MBA internship search, especially September. In September your internship search focus is on organization and information gathering. You’ll need to learn how the internship and job search works in the US. It will be different than your undergraduate experience in your home country. You’ll need to adapt and learn new professional behaviors. The tasks in September build a foundation for your internship search. As you complete them you’ll build relationships with a variety of stakeholders. You will learn which employers who visit campus are open to hiring international students for internships (not all of them will).
As the Fall term continues into November, you’ll begin building your communication and networking skills – from storytelling to engaging with employers to informational interviews. Informational interviews are the most competitive tool in the internship and job search – learn how to use them early in your search for best results.
In the US, recruiters hire candidate who have a combination of skills, experience, and company fit. Having a good GPA alone won’t get you hired. You’ll need to show you can work on projects outside of the classroom. You will have to show off your conversational skills and a warm personality. Use the time in December through February to improve your communication skills and cultural fluency. While you don’t have to act like an American, you still need to understand their humor, culture, and work style. Take this time to learn how to build relationships with American employers and new professional contacts.
MBA internship recruiting starts in full in January, though some banks will start in December for IB roles. As January starts you’ll need to show recruiters that you are qualified for their internship. You’ll need to learn how to interview and practice mock interviews.
After you secure an internship, use the time to build new skills that you haven’t learned in class. Some internships require you to use technical skills like data analytics, SQL, basic coding, etc. If you don’t have them, take an online course to learn. If you’re bad at PowerPoint, take a quick design course. Build your creativity with a course on how to learn how to use design thinking methodology. Keep current with industry trends by signing up for industry newsletters, so you sound smart and engaged during your internship. Employers make offers to MBA interns who work hard, collaborate with other team members, and clearly communicate their ideas and findings.
The MBA internship search for international students is a new experience for many. It’s filled with surprises, mistakes, and interesting people. Embrace the adventure ahead!