One of those questions to which an MBA student wants a convincing answer after ‘Which college?’ is ‘Where to do an internship?’. The rationale behind an internship in the MBA curriculum is to make students have a feel of the industry, profile, company which they want to pursue after MBA. I personally feel that the hard work which a student puts in during internship weighs more than all the efforts put together that one makes during exams, assignments when it comes down to the growth rate as a professional after MBA.
Most of the ‘janta’ joins MBA program for primarily three reasons: (1) Switch the industry (2) Move up the corporate ladder and lastly (3) A higher salary. However, none of these can be achieved without having the proper backing of a relevant internship. In the case of a one year program, the chances of green ticking the first point is comparable to an iota. Some institutes like ‘Great Lakes, Chennai’ which offer 1 year program have an equivalent to an internship, which they call as ‘Empirical’. In empirical studies the students decide on a topic and do research on that topic for the whole year in a stepwise manner, either in a group or individually.
As perceived, an institute teaches you all the concepts and theories but a candidate seldom gets a chance to work in an environment which is similar or even close to industry. Most of the activities are faculty driven and your performance is judged on the basis of the grade which you get. But in internship, you know that every deliverable of your will affect firm’s business which was not the same when you were handling case studies in college. Just wonder if you happened to contribute in a fashion which catches the eye of the top management!! Well, half the battle is won. So, morale of the story is train yourself for becoming ‘a vital cog’ in firm’s wheel of fortune. You will get the visibility and appraisal accordingly and you are en route a great career.
It is of utmost importance to master the art of trade before actually going into battlefield. An internship presents before you the opportunity to internalize the way business works without the fear of being judged much because you will be mentored by some senior person in the organization (who can be your future boss). I have observed the trend that when a firm goes for recruitment in a college, the preference is given to the students who have done internship in their firm. On top of that, they don’t hesitate in offering a higher package to those interns just for the simple reason that they can be straight away deployed on to the field without much handholding, in turn increasing their productivity.
Why focus is important in an internship because only then you will be able to invest in yourself. Try and get hold of as many things as possible which are important from the perspective of business model of the firm. This will increase your competency because then you will be able to connect the dots between various functions of the business. Recruiters are looking for the candidates who have this edge of being a generalist. And this is the only skill which ‘makes or breaks’ the career of a professional when it comes to career growth.
An internship is as important as spending your time in college activities, for strong networking. As has been rightly said, ‘Your network is your net worth’, you will grow at a rate proportional to the growth rate of your network. Even if you don’t join the company in which you did internship, chances are very high that you will end up in the same industry. Having good contacts in other leader firm of the industry is strategically very important for business development purposes. You might get hold of a potential opportunity because of a contact which you won’t be able to pursue otherwise. If you are able to create value for the firm during your internship, it won’t go unnoticed and this will take your networking to the next level strategically.
Now, how to go about searching for internships? So, it boils down to prioritization and channelized efforts. Start from prioritizing the firms in the industry of your interest. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket i.e. keep trying in other industries of relevance. Regular follow-ups or keeping a track record must be in your skin. Since, it is ‘buyer’s market’, try to show them the value that you will bring to the table by relating it to your skill-set and most importantly show the ‘Energy’. You can take the help of various job sites. There might be an opening for you if the company is continuously posting requirements on the portal, which you can leverage through your contacts (if any). Since, competition is tough, it is advisable to back your-self every time and have a go-getter attitude.
All said and done, a candidate is not the same person once he comes out of an internship as he/she was before joining internship. In a two year MBA set-up, candidate gets a chance to relate the concepts learned in classroom to what he was doing in the internship. This whole process of internalizing and re-internalizing proves to be very value additive when a candidate faces interview for final campus selections. If the candidate is able to articulate his takeaways during internship by relating it to the business model of the interviewing firm in a lucid manner, the job is done. But real ‘job’ starts from there to implement the learning of internship effectively to create value for your employer, which in turn will stamp your capability, credibility and adaptability as a resource and a successful professional.
Contributed by Sthita Sahu