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Using an Internship to Chart a Career Course

It's prime time for MBA internships. Every summer throngs of business school students flock into multinationals, startups, non-profits and other organizations to put into practice what they've learned in their MBA programs -- and for good reason.

According to the London-based Financial Times, business school graduates with internship experience have an easier time when changing business positions and industry sectors and when finding a job. Below are some statistics:

  • In November 2011, the Financial Times polled almost 2,000 MBA alumni who had graduated in 2008 and found that 72 percent of them had completed an MBA internship.
  • Of those who did an internship, 92 percent changed jobs and 69 percent changed sector on graduation. Among those who did no internship, the figures were eight percent and 12 percent lower respectively.
  • Seventy-five percent of those who completed an internship found employment within one month of completing their MBA programs. Only 69 percent of those who did not complete an internship were as successful. A year later the unemployment rate of those without internship experience remained higher.

For further proof, read the stories of Cornell 2012 MBA Jake Shirmer and Wharton 2010 MBA Shreyans Parekh.

Cornell MBA lands job at Deloitte after EDF internship

Shirmer specialized in Sustainable Global Enterprise at The Johnson Graduate School of Management of Cornell University. He interned as a sustainability analyst with SunGard, a Fortune 500 software and technology services company. At SunGard, Shirmer was an Environmental Defense Fund or EDF Climate Corps fellow. Climate Corps is the EDF's summer fellowship program that places MBA students in corporations to build the case for energy efficiency.

"At SunGard, I identified multi-billion dollar market opportunities and presented strategic revenue growth initiatives to business unit leads," Shirmer said. "In addition, I designed an employee engagement campaign focused on energy efficiency that could save the company millions of dollars in operating costs."

To do so, Shirmer put into practice his strategy and leadership skills. He communicated with different stakeholder groups, synthesized their thoughts and concerns, and produced recommendations. He said he learned a great deal and was satisfied with his decision to pursue the Climate Corps program.

"The internship allowed me to both apply and refine the core skills I had gained during my first year," Shirmer said. "I should also mention that SunGard is actively working to implement my recommendations, which makes my efforts all the more worthwhile."

Starting in the fall of 2012, Shirmer will work as a senior consultant in the Strategy & Operations group at Deloitte Consulting in Philadelphia. He got his offer through the on-campus recruiting process that takes place during the first semester of the second year. The first MBA students who get full-time jobs usually do so around this time.

Wharton MBA uses internship experience to grow family business

Parekh attended The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he received an MBA in Strategic Management, Entrepreneurial Management, and Marketing. After completing his MBA, he returned to Los Angeles determined to grow the family business. Parekh is Director of Marketing at KoyalWholesale, which he described as the world's largest wedding and event supplies company with over 50,000 products.

"My MBA internship was a one-of-a-kind experience that has shaped the direction and vision of Koyal, the company I founded with my two siblings in 2003," Parekh said. "We have more than doubled sales year over year and have a staff of over 40 employees now at our headquarters in Southern California."

Parekh's MBA internship was through the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship based in Geneva, Switzerland. He spent nine weeks in Lima, Peru working with the Schwab-recognized organization Ciudad Saludable or Healthy Cities International. He worked with leading social entrepreneur Albina Ruiz to collaborate with waste and recycling entrepreneurs based in Peru, Bangladesh and Egypt to formulate a social entrepreneurship vehicle that would fund sustainable projects in all three countries.

"I worked to unite recycling organizations, municipal authorities and corporations to develop a sustainable waste collection and recycling model and to process end products through recycling that could be sold worldwide as unique handicraft products," he said. "I learned how to manage relations between all committed parties, and developed the analytical modeling skills that would later carry over into my current position."

The MBA internship with Ciudad Saludable was also worth it, Parekh said, because it encouraged him to reach out to handicraft producers to integrate sustainable products into the lineup of wedding and event supplies online at KoyalWholesale.com. He said he is committed to cultivating a community of handicraft producers and to telling their stories through his e-commerce website.

"The MBA program and internship were definitely worth the time and two-year commitment as they enabled me to develop the analytical finance and accounting skills to drive my company forward," he said. "The internship was transformative for me in developing a social impact mindset to integrate into the company's foundation and values."