The internship is an essential part of the MBA experience, because most people come to do an MBA to switch jobs, and most people use the internship to do that. So, with that in mind, here are some important things to consider.
If you’re choosing a school, note that companies will only recruit at some schools.
That’s not to say that you can’t get a job if you’re outside the target list, but keep an eye on it. As you choose which MBA school to enter, find out how many alums they have at the companies you’re interested in, and when they went. If you see a healthy stream of folks heading to where you want to go, that’s good. The company has links with the career service, and most importantly, the alums inside the company will now be recruiting and will look favourably on your school. Managers define the culture, and if that culture is Kellogg (or wherever), you’re going into recruiting with an advantage.
If you’re choosing target companies, choose your location wisely.
There’s a crappy MBA word we use to describe this, which is co-location. In English, this means that the location you choose has other effects than just the weather. If you’re in Finance and you’re interning in London, you’ll be meeting a bunch of interesting people from other firms, and will be hob-nobbing with bigwigs in your firm (as London will either be HQ or a powerful subsidiary). If you’re in VC in the Valley, same applies. And so on.
If you’re in school already, talk to your alums.
These people are phenomenal. Not everyone will talk to you, but some are happy to chat. Captain Obvious also advises that you are NICE to the people you’re talking to – they’re giving up their time to talk to you, and they’re bigger than you are.
Don’t listen too hard to company presentations.
It’s probably obvious, but they are telling you what is great about the company, when what you need to find out is how well you fit within it. It’s rare to hear a company say “if you’re not a person like X, you probably shouldn’t apply”. However, some industries (Consulting, Finance, some Tech) keep a beady eye on whether you showed up as an indicator of your interest. Also, you can grab people afterwards to talk one-on-one. If you listen carefully, you can get the straight dope.