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No internships on a one-year MBA? Think again.

Internships are a chance to express yourself, impress others and progress your career. So how does the Cambridge MBA facilitate internships within an intense one-year programme?

Cambridge MBA: Woman smiling

Head of Business Development and Projects for the Cambridge MBA, Sadia Cuthbert says that, while students are free to source their internship, the School can provide support in several ways, for example by helping students prepare for the process of applying for a formal internship, and by bringing in companies such as Citibank, Amazon, Microsoft and Google to talk about the opportunities that exist within their organisations.

Tom Stanley, a current MBA student is looking forward to undertaking an internship with Citibank, he says:

“For me approaching my internship was a three step process. Identifying what made me ‘tick’ based on my previous experience, and finding roles and industries which matched my drivers. Once I had identified finance as my direction, I had as many conversations as I could to find out where I would best match.

“Networking was a key element for me, as well as attending meetings with Cambridge Judge career advisors. I went to employer events, travelled to meet friends of friends in finance, and remained in contact with people from multiple events.”

Once the internship has been successfully completed, students submit a report which is marked by MBA faculty, and receive credit for their MBA. Crucially, this means if you are a Tier 4 (student) visa holder you can work full-time on an internship or work placement while you are completing your MBA.

But even if you don’t fancy the idea of a formal internship, there are plenty of options for the Summer Term such as the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, Lean Six Sigma qualification and Individual Projects. The Individual Project gives you the opportunity to work at a company on a project basis, rather than within the context formal internship, and offers just as much scope for landing a role after your MBA.

Sadia says: “IPs are a great opportunity to work with a company one-to-one (the core MBA projects – the Cambridge Venture Project and the Global Consulting Project are undertaken as part of a group). This can allow you to build great insight into that company and a very useful network, which may ultimately lead to a job offer – or the realisation that it’s not you.”

And in fact, it might be that an IP with a company, rather than a formal internship, could give you the experience that you are looking for. According to a recent Financial Times article, many large companies prefer students with some knowledge of start-up industries, rather than previous work experience in another large company.

However, there is plenty of scope to go down the internship route, as Lalit Peddakota (MBA 2013) did as part of the Cambridge MBA. He sourced an internship with global healthcare giant Novartis, and coming from a healthcare background where he worked as a scientist on the drug development side of Pharma, Lalit was keen to break into an area of the industry new to him – the commercial side, especially marketing. He enlisted the help of a Cambridge Judge healthcare careers advisor to draw up a list of companies to target for an internship. When Novartis visited the School he made his move and landed an internship which saw him working on the launch of two new dermatology products.

“That kind of experience – of being in on the launch of a new product – is quite rare, especially for a scientist and non-marketer. I worked on the annual plan for how the brands engaged with key opinion leaders to promote the products, and I also worked on developing a team vision for the newly created dermatology franchise. I was given a lot of responsibility and flexibility.”

His main takeaways – besides the job he landed at the end of the internship – were being able to test out the culture to see if it was right for him and to do this in an exciting, high-performing and fast-paced team. He also relished the chance to be able to demonstrate his skills in real-work scenarios. He now leads an initiative for Novartis as they work with the UK NHS and health agencies to build a new commercial model that would reward companies based on health outcomes rather than pills sold.

Lalit advises MBAs to use internships to try out new environments – new roles or countries within a familiar field, or an entirely different industry. He also advises prospective interns to be ambitious and start their list with their ideal internship at their ideal company – then see what’s on offer.

“There is always the option to propose an internship or project to your dream company even if they are not actively recruiting for one.”