MBA Internships: Weighing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals for My Summer Internship

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Throughout my time in the UB School of Management’s full-time MBA program, the importance of experiential learning and the value of internships has been instilled in us. Throughout the year, I work as a graduate assistant in the school’s Graduate Programs Office. This means that my summer was full of precious and valuable time. I knew my time would be best used participating a summer internship to gain more real-world experience in the field I wanted to work in.

I’m currently concentrating in supply chains and operations management, marketing and international business in the #UBMBA. With three different concentrations, there were many directions I could focus my internship search in. This meant a lot of applications, cover letters and interviews. Despite numerous opportunities and options, I knew I wanted to work in large-scale events management one day. I wanted to make sure that my internship would act as a stepping stone towards that goal. Throughout my internship search, I interviewed with numerous organizations and received three internship offers.

strategic-mapThe first offer I received involved executing events for children in downtown Buffalo in the Canalside region. This was a great offer but, after going through the interview process, it became clear this position wouldn’t be a part of the planning process and instead would just work on execution and follow up. I wanted my experience to be about the whole process of strategically planning, executing and reflecting on the event. So I decided to hold off on accepting to see if I had another offer. How did I do that? I asked when I would need to give them an answer. Once I had a deadline, I moved forward trying to find other offers that better aligned with my goals.

A short time later, I received an offer from a different organization that hosted events at Canalside. I had originally applied for a position as an events intern, but after reviewing my credentials this second employer brought me in to interview for their sales and sponsorships intern position. It was encouraging to see that the company liked me, but I ran into a similar problem again — instead of getting to see the whole event-planning process, I would be segmented off into a small silo. For this internship, I would be in their corporate sales office, working to get sponsors for many of their larger events. While it was an amazing offer from a great company (not to mention a paid position), I decided to turn it down because ultimately corporate sales was not a career path I wanted to pursue. 

Botanical-gardensFinally, I received an offer that looked like the perfect fit. I accepted an offer as a program development intern at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. Although the position was based in development, an internship and career option I had not considered before, the role’s underlying purpose was to plan and execute large-scale events to garner donations and keep the Botanical Gardens a thriving cultural icon in Buffalo.

I interviewed with the company twice and both times I left the interviewing feeling like it was somewhere I would belong. Although it’s a small team, I believe the cultural fit was perfect and the Buffalo and Erie Botanical Gardens really cared about my personal and professional development. They wanted to help me find opportunities to grow within my field even after the internship.

After weighing the pros and cons of each position it was clear that the position at the Botanical Gardens was going to give me the best access to all of the experience, development and networking opportunities that I wanted. Although turning the other offers down wasn’t easy, I definitely made the right choice and am doing exactly what I want.

Woman-decisionI was in a very fortunate position to have three offers with local businesses in the Buffalo area. But I still had to make a decision on which internship to take, and that was no easy decision. There are lots of questions to ask when you are deciding on an internship.

Here are my top four questions to ask when deciding on an internship decision:

What are my short-term goals for the internship?
Am I taking an internship to explore new career options or am I further solidifying my skills and experiences in a field I’m familiar with?

Are there leadership opportunities?
No one wants to be a paper pusher. Is there a chance this internship will let me execute meaningful projects and strategies?

Does this internship fit my life logistically?
Do I have the proper transportation to make it to my internship on time? Does the pay cover my basic living expenses, or, have I looked into scholarships for unpaid internships such as the G.I.F.T.S Fund to help offset those burdens?

When does the employer need an answer?
In this case, I was lucky to have enough time to interview and make decisions without holding up an employer’s process. Make sure you ask for a timeline so you can decline a position if you need to.

Nothing takes the place of hands-on learning. Internships provide a perfect platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas between students and employers. Learn more about internships through the Internships and Experiential Learning office.

MaryKate-Waringa-BlogMarykate is a first year MBA student who is concentrating in supply chains and operations management, marketing and international business. She loves to travel, watching The Office on repeat and can be found sampling craft beers at locations all around Buffalo. (Feel free to ask me for good craft recommendations). Connect with me on LinkedIn by mentioning this post


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