Tips for maximizing your summer internship

By Christine Ferrell

Poets & Quants tapped an impressive group of professionals — including NC State Jenkins MBA career coach Doug Mayes — to solicit advice for maximizing your internship. The following is an excerpt of the story, clicking through for the full version on Poets & Quants.

Ah, summertime.

For most, the season conjures up images of water parks and ball games. After two crazy semesters, MBAs need a summer getaway like everyone else. But you won’t find them heading off to the Grand Canyon or Disneyland. Instead, their road trips will take 10 weeks minimum. Chances are, they’ll spend that time acting more like Alex Keaton than Jack Kerouac.

Yes, it’s summer internship time. While the world is lighting fireworks and roasting s’mores, MBA students will be poring over data and writing plans and presentations. Instead of pitching tents and dousing themselves with repellent, they’ll fend off creepy, crawly wildlife in their ratty apartments. Despite missing out on many summer joys, most MBAs will remember their internship as a turning point in their lives.

Doug Mayes, Assistant Director of Career Management and Career Coach, N.C. State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

Your internship is an opportunity to get a glimpse into a particular industry. Treat your internship as a giant fact- finding mission and cram as much learning as possible into your brain. Explore different career paths by inviting successful employees for coffee. Ask them about what motivates them to do their best work and what makes them lose sleep. Talk to the company’s customers. What’s driving the industry? What’s broken? Where is the opportunity for a person with your skills to make a huge contribution? Be willing to adjust your path based on what you learn.

By building relationships with people during your internship, you will position yourself as a thoughtful professional — not just an intern focused on your final slide deck. Bonus: All those relationships become internal advocates who can help you convert that internship into a full-time gig once you earn those letters behind your name.

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