Internships are a long-standing stepping stone toward professional success. And yet, many people are naturally hesitant to begin one. Who has time for free labor? Especially when you are trying to get your MBA. And yet there are reasons why so many people thank their internship for decades of career success. In this article, we look at how securing an MBA internship can prepare you for your dream career.

An Internship Downside?

There are reasons that some people don’t like internships. Chief among them? They are usually unpaid. In fact, when you do them for college credit, you may actually be paying the university for the time you spend at work.

That’s silly! I have an undergraduate degree. Soon, I will have my MBA. Why not wait a few months and work for, oh, I don’t know, money?

That’s certainly a mainstream employment philosophy. Compensation, good. Unpaid labor, bad. The reasons why you should consider it will be enumerated on throughout this article.

For the skimmers out there, however, they all fall under the broad umbrella of this one thought: internships are an extension of your education. And yeah, it would be nice if more of them were paid, but this article is about career advancement, not social change.

You do the internship not because you are overly willing to commit to free work, but because you’re patient enough to accept a delayed reward. A candidate with good internship experience is often valued above a candidate with none at all. That’s why you do it.

Networking

People working within an industry tend to know one another. Particularly now, as it is so easy to do business not just in your community but all over the country. All over the world, even.

Amanda is doing an internship at a large brokerage firm in Chicago. The man she is working under, John, is a swell guy. He’s smart. Always willing to answer her questions or steer her in the right direction. She’s secretly hoping that maybe he will hire her full-time when the internship is over. She could really see herself doing well at this firm for the long haul.

Except John isn’t hiring right now. He tells her that in the coffee room one day, and she tries not to look glum but it clearly doesn’t work. His face falls with hers.

Well, he tells her. As a matter of fact, Sue? That underwriter on Michigan Avenue? She is looking for people. I’ll call her after lunch.

So often, that’s exactly what networking looks like. On the outside, people so often think of it as “buddies,” endlessly giving each other promotions and new opportunities. And sure, there’s probably a little bit of that.

It’s probably more accurate to think of it as cutting in line. Sue the underwriter won’t hire Amanda just because John thinks she’s a hard worker. However, she probably will give her resume priority because it is being recommended to her by a trusted friend.

Valuable Work Experience

School never quite does office life justice. You learn the skills there, sure. But until you’ve experienced a day or two in the life, you just won’t have the chance to hone, or even identify the valuable soft skills that help people find significant career success.

Internship experience makes it easy to transition directly into professional life after school.

Glowing Recommendations

A strong letter of recommendation from someone established within your industry can go a long way toward helping you get a high-paying job down the line. As an MBA student, what you’re really doing is accumulating opportunities. Feathers in your cap, so to speak. Leverage.

A list of glowing references can easily give you a one-up edge over people who otherwise have the same background as you.

They Often Literally Result in New Jobs

Last, but certainly not least, MBA internships often very literally result in new jobs. It’s a simple equation. You cut your teeth at a high-end firm, and if they like what they see during the internship, they will often be all too pleased to do whatever it takes to keep you around.

Keep in mind that this is hardly a one-sided gain equation. People seeking employment all too often view it as an opportunity for themselves. Something they need to be protective of, and grateful for. And there are certainly some of these factors in play. However, the same things could be said of the business.

Remember: your future wants someone with high-level business skills, and the willingness to work hard. Most businesses are all too eager to have an MBA walk through their doors.

And you are on! So, treat your internship as an opportunity for professional growth and career mobility. Be confident that you are fully qualified to transition into a full-time position, but also don’t sweat it too much if things don’t fall into place that way.

As an MBA, now with high-end internship experience, you are a hot commodity. Act accordingly. Use that leverage not just to land the first job you can get your hands on, but to find high-paying work in a career that genuinely interests you.