ApplyFailRepeat: Advice on the MBA Internship Search

Ahh, the MBA internship search. I wrote about this earlier in the quarter, and now that the Winter Quarter is ending I feel like I have more insight into the process. One thing my classmates and I are finding out quickly is to expect a lot of rejection, especially when you are a career changer. The above video does a great job of summing up the process of doing a lot of informational interviews and company research, applying for jobs, and then getting the rejection letter. It’s times like this that I really appreciate my fellow classmates who are going through the same process. One nice thing about having a small class is that everyone knows each other and is genuinely happy to hear when classmates get that internship offer letter, but the downside is that word spreads pretty fast. Failure seems much more publicized in our small community, which amplifies social pressure and anxiety. 

One thing I’m struggling with is trying not to follow the herd. I came into the Foster MBA program with certain career goals in mind, but it’s really easy to get caught up in what your classmates are doing. It’s a great time to re-read the letter of advice from Stanford. I didn’t understand it in the Fall quarter, but I definitely feel the pressure in Winter Quarter. Here’s the advice from the letter:

On Recruiting:

“Again, take it easy. Everyone who wanted a summer job got one. I ended up playing picky and landing my ideal job two weeks after the school was out. (Most others had jobs long before that.) If you want a non-traditional job or one that is very different from your past experiences, you may want to prepare yourself for a lot of rejections-something that you may not necessarily be used to. Summer jobs are much harder to find than permanent jobs, due to fewer spots. If you just keep in mind that you will eventually have a job, you can take chances and experiment with the summer job search. This could be a very valuable experience for the permanent job search.”

By now, I’d say at least 33% of the Foster Full-time MBA class of 2016 have at least one internship offer. Due to the nature of MBA internship recruiting, consulting firms and large companies like Microsoft and Amazon tend to recruit much earlier…and they take a ton of MBAs. It’s great to see so many classmates get picked up for these amazing opportunities, but you definitely feel the pressure if you’re looking for something different, or you’re failing where others are succeeding. 

I see some classmates panic and start applying to every available opportunity that comes up. I feel the same pressure as well. Luckily, re-reading the letter seemed to help, and I’m extremely grateful to get a lot of advice and help from alumni, second years, and classmates. If you’re struggling with this, I hope you re-read the letter and reach out.

Update 12/7/15: A few weeks after I wrote this, I accepted an offer to intern at Nike over the summer. That turned out to be the best possible result that I could have asked for.

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