In this weekly series, “MBA Career Advice,” our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews.
If your first-choice firms only recruit one or two people from your MBA program or you know you will face stiff competition when pursuing a particular job, then it would be foolhardy not to pursue some other options to ensure that you don’t end internship recruitment season empty handed. Although an MBA internship is a critically important opportunity for you to test out a new field, get hands-on experience to determine if it suits you, and impress a potential employer and possibly earn a full-time offer, failing to land an internship at your target company is not the end of the world. In many cases, you will have another chance to apply during full-time recruitment the following year. So consider your Plan B as a chance to do something meaningful that continues to build your skill set en route to your ultimate goal. On the other hand, you may just find that your Plan B option becomes Plan A if you have a great experience during your internship.
The necessity of developing a Plan B highlights the importance of already knowing what you want when you begin your MBA program. For example, let’s say you are sure that you want to end up in a strategy position at a tech firm post-MBA. In that case, you can target logical Plan B options that not only better prepare you for a full-time role at one of your target companies, but also enable you to leverage your Plan A preparation to prepare for your Plan B roles as well.
The following list presents some viable Plan B options that build on the same skill set and work necessary to make inroads at Facebook and Google:
- Boutique consulting firms focused on either very high-level management strategy, private equity or venture capital advisory, or the tech space specifically
- Large firms in a related or adjacent space, such as Yahoo, Amazon.com, LinkedIn, Netflix, Expedia, and even Microsoft or Samsung—companies that compete with or interact with your target companies as customers or providers
- Other high-tech firms in the app space, such as Uber, Snapchat, and Dropbox
- Smaller tech start-ups at which you might be able to secure a lower compensation or unpaid internship
These are just examples, but as you develop your Plan B, make sure that it aligns with the kind of position you want after your MBA or in the longer term. If career switching is important to you, resist the “easy out” of falling into an internship in the field you came from. To make the most of your MBA, you need to position yourself for the role you want as soon as possible.