Looking for an MBA Internship? Here are 7 tips for You
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
June 29, 2019
Applying for an internship at Silicon Valley is much harder than I thought.
After hundreds of job applications have been submitted in six months, finally I got three onsite interviews. Fortunately, the three onsite interviews all turn out to be offers afterward. During this journey, I received lots of strong support and insightful advice from so many friends, mentors, and SCU alumni. Kudos belong to these great people who have kind hearts and are full of talents. By sharing the seven tips with you, I am passing the positive energy forward and hope these tips below could help.
I am an MBA, CPA, with a total of eight-year professional experience as an accountant, procurement manager, and entrepreneur, which “sounds” strong. However, the truth is that the competition at Silicon Valley is much more intense than we could imagine. Employers at Silicon Valley are looking for the best candidates who not only have the required academic background but also have very relevant and solid work experience with matching job titles and industries. For example, in terms of finance positions, employers are looking for someone with Big Four, VC or investment banking background; or with FP&A, M&A, or at least Finance Analyst job titles. In terms of marketing positions, employers are looking for someone with STEM education background and have demonstrated outstanding work experience in technology, healthcare, or well-known companies such as FLAG (Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Google).
Does it mean life is hopeless? Of course not! Giving up is not an option here because we should at least get a positive return of investment for our MBA tuition. Here are the seven tips that may help us to achieve this goal.
• Clearly understand ourselves.
“I am looking for a corporate strategy summer internship in a big company at Silicon Valley because I have passion, knowledge, and skills in financial analysis and business development, and I want to work on creative and challenging projects”.
Very similar to writing an MBA application proposal, a clear goal for job hunting should contain Who, When, Where, What and Why. The famous philosophy problems apply here as well: Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going? A cleared vision is the lighthouse which is leading us moving forward. Based on that, we then design our strategy and implement the tactics accordingly.
• Clearly understand our strengths and constraints.
Identify our strengths and constraints will help to answer “How”. When we play Poker, we need to know what cards are in our hand, and what strategic order these cards go with. “MBA”, “CPA”, “Entrepreneurship” definitely can be my “J”, “Q”, “K”. However, I am not a native English speaker, with non-U.S. work experience, non-top-tier bachelor’s degree, and non-STEM background. Furthermore, I am a 37 years old mom with three kids, although I am still trying to claim myself as a millennial (Don’t laugh! Millennials start from 1981).
Holding powerless cards such as “2”, “3”, “4” doesn’t mean I am a loser. Instead, if we can convert this situation into an advanced one by a strategic way - for example, a pair of “2” will beat a single “K” and “Q” – we still get the chance to win! Yes, I am not a native English speaker, but I am bilingual in Chinese and I can help with international business; I am a 37 years old mom with three kids, but I have outstanding time management skills so I can still study as a full-time MBA student and also keep work-life balance; I do not have a bachelor’s degree from a top-tier university, but I still successfully passed all four parts of CPA exams, which is strong evidence to show my diligence and enthusiasm.
On the other hand, we should objectively accept our shortages and constraints. “Fake it till you make it” is not 100% correct. Confidence should be always based on our true efforts. Dumb luck won’t always happen. The effective way to improve ourselves is working harder. I tried to practice my presentation loudly when I commute to school every day; I initiate cold networking requests on LinkedIn to ask for help from strangers who are experts I could learn from. It would be a powerful driver if we understand our constraints and try to fix them.
• Networking means genuine care.
As we all know, networking is the key. However, how to effectively utilize the network power is a skill that we should learn. Networking doesn’t mean we collect a whole basket of business cards; networking means if we can successfully deliver the right message to the right person and build up a healthy relationship with positive interaction.
“Before we ask, we listen; before we get, we give.” Networking means genuine care. Interpersonal trust is the foundation of networking. We should always appreciate the time and effort that others put for us. In addition, don’t forget to keep them posted with our good news; sharing our growth with our mentors is similar to turning in the homework. Such follow-up shows we keep responsibility in mind, and that is also a great appreciation and encouragement to our mentors.
• Utilize the resources nearby.
As a current enrolled MBA student, we have tons of resources nearby. Different types of events such as seminars, workshop, panel talks are happening every single week both on campus and off campus; we have classmates coming with very diverse background; most of our professors have a strong relationship with industry; our career center provides outstanding coaches who can offer mentorship and insightful advice for our ongoing career path as well.
• Handshake helps.
Handshake is a great channel for internship job hunting. The first time I heard about this brand was during the new student orientation on my Day 1 of MBA. However, I didn’t pay that much attention to it. It took almost four months to prove that I made a mistake. Since internship positions don’t like full-time jobs, most of the employers in Silicon Valley prefer local students. They would assign a roll called “University Recruiter” who acquires talents directly from local universities. Applications through Handshake may get a better chance to be viewed by a human-being recruiter instead of being screened out by a recruiting software.
• Leadership is everywhere.
“Model the way”, “Inspire a shared vision”, “Challenge the process”, “Enable others to act” and “Encourage the heart”. If you don’t familiar with the five practices of leadership, please follow this link to learn from. Leadership is everywhere. It doesn’t mean we are in actual leaders’ positions; it means we have the leadership mindset and act like real leaders - at least we are the leaders of ourselves.
• Practice, Practice, Practice.
Last but not least, the “10,000 hours rule” does apply. If compare my current version of resume to my first one, they are totally different; if I get a chance to review my first interview video record, I will directly close my laptop and cover my face. We should all stay on a lifetime study track and always challenge ourselves to walk out of the comfort zone.
“Stay passionate about what you love and do it persistently.” With that said, Let’s think positively and live energetically. Remember, never underestimate the impact that we may have to this world.
My friends, WE GOT THIS!