As this year’s internship recruiting season winds to a close, the collective sense of accomplishment and relief is palpable. While not everyone received an offer from their first choice company, most students are excited about their plans for the summer. When navigating the recruiting process, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
Decide what really matters to you. Re-read your admissions essays and talk to people who know you well. Make a list of your priorities for an internship, considering items such as industry, company structure (family owned vs. publicly traded), location, program type (e.g., direct hire, rotational, internal consulting), and prospects for a full-time offer. Then review the list of companies coming to your campus to see which ones match your list. Keep in mind that a great summer experience might merit accepting lower pay.
Stay active in the on-campus recruiting scene but don’t get sidetracked by companies that don’t match your priorities. You’ll receive emails from companies and might be enticed by the glitzy firms wining and dining your classmates, but it’s important to stay focused and keep your attention on your top few choices.
Don’t assume that you’re restricted to companies recruiting on your campus. If you don’t see what you want, ask your career office about access to other schools’ databases. Most companies select only a handful of “target” schools that most closely match their company’s culture or requirements, and focus their recruiting efforts there; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t open to candidates from other schools. Many MBA programs share their recruiting databases with other schools so, while you usually can’t apply through another school, you might at least find a few companies you like. Once you do, reach out to them directly.
Don’t disengage just because you’re recruiting off-campus. There are still a lot of resources at your school that can add value to your internship search. Be sure to reach out to alumni in your field of interest to get advice and see if they know of any opportunities that fit your goals. Attend presentations by your career office on networking, cover letters, resumes, salary negotiations, and interviewing, as these will all be equally important to an off-campus search. And set up time with your career office to ensure that you stay on the right track.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. Everyone receives offers at a different pace, and each industry has its own recruiting cadence. Soon enough you’ll be right there with everyone else, excitedly chatting away about your upcoming internship.
Ellen Cory, Forté Fellow
MBA 2014, The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth