How to Craft Your Own MBA Internship | MBA Careers

crafting-your-own-internship4CatComm meeting with Brazilian community leaders – an amazing day!
by: Grayson Leverenz

I met with students in North Carolina recently, and heard first hand the dire reality of the current job market. Then I read a BusinessWeek article reporting up to 50% of 1st years at many top MBA programs are still looking for internships. The story highlighted innovative solutions from program administrators including: jobs at the school and paid research assistantships. I’d like to take it a step further, delivering a call to action to you as a student. The time has come to take your career destiny into your own hands, and craft a meaningful summer internship for yourself. I know it can be done because I did it myself.

This is what I did.

First, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to get out of my summer internship. Since my long-term goal was to become an intercultural consultant, I wanted to have an international experience. I wanted to work with passionate people and complete meaningful projects. I wanted to learn and position myself for solid opportunities post-graduation. Note that “make a lot of money” was not in my must-have list for an internship.

I was incredibly fortunate that I stumbled across my perfect company during a Spring Break Global Immersion Elective (GIE) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Catalytic Communities empowers community leaders in developing countries by harnessing the power of social networking to share ideas. The mission is meaningful; the people are passionate, and the international location doesn’t get much better than Rio.

After my GIE, I wrote a sincere letter to the CatComm Executive Director, Theresa Williamson. I told her how her work inspired me, and told her I wanted to help. CatComm never hired an MBA before, but they were willing to take a chance on me if I was willing to take a chance on them.

The internship paid US $300, almost enough to cover my plane ticket to Rio, and the experience was priceless. I lived on my own in a foreign country, learned survival Portuguese, worked with amazing colleagues that I treasure to this day, created the first ever CatComm annual report for use in fundraising, experienced a new business culture, and embraced a new social culture; I even danced the forro. Everything on my list was there. Success.

How can you turn an intimidating employment situation into your own MBA success story?

  1. Figure out what you want to gain.
  2. Identify companies that inspire you, and ask them what they need. Then tell them how you can help.
  3. Contemplate local business models, and think about what you want to fix. Then offer to fix it for them.
  4. Explore entrepreneurship by writing a business plan for an idea you’ve always wanted to launch, but have been afraid to. Even if you end up going for a company job next year, the experience will be invaluable.
  5. Talk to professors that research your favorite subjects, and see if they need help. Getting an author credit on a new book is a great way to spend the summer.

American business thrives on people creating opportunities. Believing we own our future is my favorite aspect of US culture. Adopt it as your philosophy, and craft an amazing summer internship for yourself!

By the way, I love helping people discover and attain their perfect career. Please email me if you’d like to schedule an appointment for help with your search.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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