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Three Tips for a Successful Internship

Three Tips for a Successful Internship

Sarah Baranowski / BusinessWeek

Do Something Different

Someone with an established career rarely has the opportunity to try something completely different. That’s what returning to school is all about, and I discovered that’s what an internship can do as well. At my stage of career development, it’s not about getting a foot in the door; it’s about diversifying. For me, it meant working in a different industry—in this case, biotech and medical devices. It meant sitting in the sales and marketing department, rather than partnering with them. And it meant leading business plan development, rather than managing an existing business model and an established team.

Given a full range of roles to choose from, I might not have picked marketing. Historically in my consulting management roles, I developed close ties with sales and marketing functions, but I never reported into them. In hindsight, I wonder why I had not considered marketing, especially strategic planning, more seriously before this summer.

With this experience in mind, my best advice to first-year MBA students hunting for the perfect internship is this: Do something different with your summer. Target your search at roles that you do not intend to pursue after graduation. Diversify your portfolio. Will I ever sit in a marketing department again? Maybe, maybe not. But by doing something slightly outside of expectations, I have opened my options.

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