How to survive MBA internship recruitment season

Mini 3 at Tepper is, famously, a hectic time for first-year MBA students. January thru March is peak recruiting season for summer MBA internships. Coming off the heels of a long and relaxing winter break, it can feel a little jarring to be thrust back into balancing classes, interviews, and club activities (not to mention a social life).

So what is it like to interview while taking a full course load of graduate courses? Short answer: it’s not easy. The good news is that you’ll be well-supported through the process.

As someone who recently completed my internship search, I wanted to offer my reflections on lessons learned through my internship search.

Success involves preparation, opportunity, and luck.

I came to Tepper from the startup world. One oft-repeated mantra in startups is that luck is where preparation meets opportunity. In my experience, this is also true for recruiting and networking.

My first few months at Tepper felt very hectic. I was adjusting to classes after being out of school for ten years, going to corporate presentations and club meetings, and making new friends. I also followed the advice of 2nd year MBA students and the Master’s Career Center (MCC) and prepared to tell my story to interviewers!

As a 1st year MBA student, it may feel like interviews are far away when you start in the fall. Interviews come up quickly though, and I felt much better knowing that I had prepared. I worked extensively on how to tell my story, why I liked my target companies, and why I was interested in product marketing.

At Tepper, the Graduate Business Association (GBA) runs weekly events called Friday Foundations. These events tackle a little piece of the interview process each week and give you practice time with an experienced 2nd year. Professional clubs like the Business and Technology (B&T) club and Tepper Consulting Club (TCC) also offer extensive interview prep. Finally, the MCC and 2nd year MBA students are there to help you compellingly craft your story.

I’m glad that I prepared so much in the fall for interviews this spring so that I was ready when an opportunity came knocking!

Leverage your resources – all of them

Prepping for interviews is one piece of the puzzle. There’s also the not-so-small duty of getting an interview to begin with. When it comes to applying for roles and recruiting on campus, the MCC does an excellent job of facilitating relationship-building between companies and students. While these resources are fantastic, don’t forget about the other resources that you have!

Specifically, remember that you can draw on:

  1. Your network
  2. Your classmate’s networks
  3. Tepper alumni.

When it comes to applying to your dream companies, an all-of-the-above strategy works best. Leverage all of the resources at your disposal to initiate conversations, learn more about your target companies, and identify how to maximize your chances of success.

Coming into Tepper, I was fortunate to have built a strong network on the west coast. I took the approach of setting up informational conversations with my connections at my target companies. And through the process, I learned a lot about what companies care about that helped me when it came to applying.

Give yourself time for breaks.

Seriously. Do not spend all of your free-time focused on interviewing and recruiting. Do the things that bring you joy in your life. For me, that means I took the time to workout and prioritized time with friends. I spent less time on other extracurricular activities while interviewing. Frankly, it also meant I studied less while I was actively preparing for interviews.

Do what you need to do though to enter interviews refreshed. It’s important to bring your best self to an interview. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to come to the interview as relaxed and prepared as possible.

David Baars | MBA 2020

Director of Product Marketing at PipelineDeals Inc.
David is a 2020 MBA candidate at the Tepper School of Business seeking a product management position in tech. Before business school, David led the marketing team at a B2B software startup in Seattle, WA and he was a Teach For America corps member in Colorado. Outside of work, David is an avid runner, cyclist, hiker, and camper. He is an active fundraiser and bike-rider for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from SF to LA that supports the SF AIDS Foundation and the LA LGBT Center. His AIDS/LifeCycle team is the Pork Peddlers — united by bacon to end AIDS. He’s a little too obsessed with his tuxedo cat Figaro.

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