By Bri Taylor, MBA’22
Making the transition from employee to MBA student is a journey in and of itself. Now add the pressure of having to secure an internship by the end of your first year, while navigating core and maintaining some sort of social life, and one can become extremely overwhelmed.
When looking back at my recruiting journey, the tips I received from my second years, Kelley alumni, and the Graduate Career Services team were extremely helpful as I prepared for recruiting season and ultimately secured my product marketing internship offer from Microsoft. As future Kelleys are preparing themselves for their first year and the upcoming recruiting season, I thought I would share a few tips that were passed down to me.
Spend time reflecting on the types of problems you enjoy solving, what areas you’d like to grow in, and what your strengths are. While I was preparing for the Consortium Orientation Program and the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, I was paired with an alumnus and a second-year mentor who challenged me to think about the types of problems I like to solve and the key strengths I would bring to my internship. Identifying those problem types helped me pinpoint my growth opportunities, which came in handy as I narrowed down the list of roles and companies I would apply to and began developing my CAR statements (mentioned in tip #4). To circle back to the pre-MBA recruiting conferences I mentioned above – the Consortium Orientation Program is an annual conference hosted by the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference is an annual conference hosted by the Forte Foundation. The purpose of these conferences is to provide incoming MBAs with career development advice and early exposure to corporations as they prepare to begin their business school journey. Other pre-MBA recruiting conferences and opportunities available to future Kelleys are Poets & Quants Pre-MBA Networking Festival, Jumpstart Advisory Group Career Forums, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Professional Development.
Schedule exploratory calls with current students, Kelley alumni, or people outside of the Kelley network in your desired role and industry to confirm your interest. Once I figured out the roles and companies I wanted to target, I utilized LinkedIn to search for second years and Kelley alumni who interned or currently worked in the roles I planned to apply to. In these exploratory calls, I focused on what their day-to-day and career trajectory looked like, what they liked most and least about their role and company, and what Kelley courses or projects most helped prepare them for their role. If I was unable to find a Kelley to connect with, I prioritized reaching out to MBAs in the roles I planned to apply to. By the end of these calls, I was able to confirm that I wanted to move forward with recruiting for product marketing/management roles within Big Tech. A bonus was that I was able to build a running list of suggested elective courses to take that would prepare me for my internship and later full-time role. To keep track of everyone I connected with and notes from those calls, I kept all my networking contacts compiled into one spreadsheet, which I still refer to today as I prepare for full-time recruiting.
Identify the key roles you’d like to recruit for and begin applying early. It helps if the industry or company you want to work for offers summer boot camps. For example: Procter & Gamble Brand Camp, McKinsey Early Access, BCG Unlock, Bain Base Scholars, Kearny Diversity Boot Camp. I personally didn’t participate in any of these summer boot camps since I decided to recruit in tech, but I know a few Kelleys and MBA students from other schools who did participate in them, and they found the camps very informative. These boot camps give you a glimpse of the industry you wish to work in, networking opportunities with current employees, and a chance to interview for a summer internship the following year. I mean who wouldn’t want an opportunity to start their MBA with an internship offer in hand. If like me you decide not to participate in these boot camps, don’t fret. Still begin applying and if possible, send a note to the lead recruiter at the company to express interest and to let them know that you have applied. You can search through LinkedIn for the recruiter contact or reach out to a Kelley at the company to help.
As you wait to receive an invitation to interview, begin crafting your CAR statements. Very similar to the STAR method, CAR stands for Context, Action, and Result. To get started, reflect on all the impact you made in your career and highlight about 8 to 10 scenarios that you can build strong CAR statements around. If you are a career-switcher like me, consider framing your CAR statements to highlight your strengths and transferable skills. Companies are aware that MBA students use the degree to pivot careers, but in evaluating your candidacy it is important that they can see the link from your previous experience to your aspiring path. If you need help getting started with your CAR statements, I suggest reaching out to the Graduate Career Services team.
Reach out to current students and Kelley alumni in the role and company you have applied for to schedule a few mock interviews. From these interviews, you will receive feedback on how to improve your performance and a glimpse of the types of questions that will be asked during your real interview. I found doing mock interviews extremely helpful as I prepared for my Microsoft interviews, which consisted of one 30-minute interview for the first round and three 45-minute back-to-back interviews for the final round. Putting myself in the hot seat helped me memorize the key points of the CAR statements and learn to apply them to different questions on the fly as you never know what questions you will be asked the day of your interview. Hopping on zoom for my Microsoft interviews, I felt ready for any question the interviewers would throw at me, even the curveball questions.
To future Kelleys, my hope is that with these tips you feel just as confident walking into your interviews during the upcoming recruiting season. Remember that dedication and consistent practice are key to getting the results you desire. Lean on your classmates, your second years, and the broader Kelley community to help you secure your dream internship. I look forward to witnessing all your future success in the years to come