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Is a pre-MBA internship right for you?

Katie Schenk - April 29, 2016

An intern posing with her superiors

The summer before you begin your MBA is a busy one. If you’re an international candidate, expect to be busier than you’ve ever been before (and then wait until that’s multiplied on campus). You’ve got a lot of work to do ensuring that you’ve thanked everyone for the efforts towards acceptance, closing off the projects at your current job, preparing for an international move, and trying to spend some time with family and friends.

Why, oh why, would you spend a few weeks or a month working without pay when you know money will be tight and your time is terribly precious?

The growing trend of pre-MBA experiences

In 2014, nearly 20 percent of admitted students polled by Practice MBA reported their involvement in a formal pre-MBA internship, experience, or class. Another 14 percent involved in an unstructured pre-MBA experience. While it’s tough to use these statistics as a general fact, they’re representative of this growing trend. (Consider also that the same survey demonstrated that 40 percent of students admitted to the use of a consulting firm or GMAT prep company during the admissions process – a figure that’s definitely representative.)

You’ll find GMAT club forums dedicated to pre-MBA internships, increasing numbers of LinkedIn profiles with titles bearing the words “pre-MBA intern”, and just about every programme releases information regarding specific opportunities.

Still, the summer internship is regarded as part and parcel of the two-year MBA experience, while the pre-campus opportunities aren’t... at this point in time. The growth of these programmes suggests that they’ll one day play a very big role for many MBAs.

When should you consider a pre-MBA experience?

It’s tough to forego the last few paydays when you’re about to suffer through months without any real income. But, the MBA is an investment – and the pre-MBA internship might just be part of that.

If you’re a career-changer, as many MBAs are, it’s unlikely you know exactly what you want in your next job straight away. More than that, the rush of recruiters that hit campus about a week after you do, might not see your commitment to the change. They’re a lot more likely to believe you if you’ve put in the effort before they meet with you (this translates very easily into pre-MBA internship or experiences). And, let’s face it; experience in the field you want to be in is perhaps one of the most useful things you can do for yourself.

Candidates pursuing a one-year MBA programme are also likely to find the pre-MBA internship important. After all, they squeeze a lot of work into 10 or 12 months, and a little extra experience never hurts. And, if you can get an internship in the country or area of study, those few weeks might just help with your adjustment.

None of this takes away from the benefits of the mid-study or final-term internship; it just diversifies your experience. And, at this point, it’s not such a norm that you need to consider it mandatory – especially if you can’t afford the extra time away from work. But, it’s something to consider.

Learn more about Prodigy’s international MBA loan programmes here, or read more about Prodigy's investor community here.

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