Why you Should Trust your Gut During your Internship Search

Why you Should Trust your Gut During your Internship Search main image

Many MBA programs offer at least one internship opportunity before graduation. At UBC’s Sauder School of Business, our internship search basically starts the first day of the program. Fortunately for us, we are given plenty of resources to support us as we build up our profiles and networking skills while balancing our course load.

I had the opportunity to take part in an internship during my undergraduate studies, which was a very non-traditional application process and experience. I had no idea what to expect but came to realize the MBA level process can feel stressful, competitive, and at times uncertain.

Get yourself out there

During the first few months of the program, I did my best to show up to every networking event, spend time on my resume and LinkedIn profile, and start researching companies I might want to work for. I made a point to ask industry leaders to meet for coffee often to further build on the relationships that seemed mutually beneficial. Although networking is draining, it’s worth the effort – find out how you can boost your networking game while in the MBA here.

After doing my own research and meeting industry leaders at events, I realized I was most interested in working for a company that existed for more than profit. But it’s worth noting you don’t need to work for a non-profit organization or in corporate social responsibility to make a difference in your career, as long as you find a company practicing ‘good business’.

As the internship postings started filling the career portal, I found myself drawn to companies in life sciences, particularly companies who exist to help humanity by solving serious medical problems and advancing science.

Before applying, it’s important to understand the culture of each company through their websites, press mentions and personal contacts. Although writing cover letters isn’t an easy process, it’s important to leave enough time to write each one with intention and authenticity. I tried to only apply to jobs which fit my idea of a ‘good-business’ model, where I could see myself learning and creating value for the company too.

The waiting game

It took a few weeks to get an invitation to interview with a couple of companies, but it was worth the wait. A startup I’d been following closely wanted to meet and I was ecstatic, as this company was my first choice. After meeting the CEO and their VP of Marketing and Sales at a networking event a couple of months earlier, I knew I wanted to work for them for two reasons. Firstly, the people were easy-going and passionate about what they do, not to mention experts in the field. And secondly, their company’s business model revolves around supporting scientists in their research. This company exists to use their expertise to help others succeed and I wanted in!

Although I don’t have a background in science, I relied on my strengths and desire to learn to guide me through the interview. Be open with your interests when at the interview – for example, I could talk about my interests in marketing, strategic partnerships, and business development. I knew that at a startup, a willingness to dive in head-first and help when needed is the best way to create value, and I was ready to do just that. Remember, it’s important to ask meaningful questions where possible, to help you understand the trajectory and goals of the company.

Overall, the internship search taught me how important it is to trust your intuition when it comes to picking where to apply. When you visit the company website, do you believe what you see? When you read the job responsibilities, will you learn something new? Most importantly, when you meet the team, do you think you’ll enjoy working with them? It’s helpful to remember this is only an internship and it may not lead you to your dream job, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious.

It has been an incredible couple of months working for Microbiome Insights and I’m honored to be a part of a team who cares about the world. Follow me on LinkedIn to see what we’ve been up to this summer.

Written by Jen Bower

Jen Bower is a Full-time MBA candidate at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business. Jen has chosen the Entrepreneurship & Innovation track with a secondary focus in marketing.     Her background is in legal practice development and data consulting. Jen enjoys working for companies who choose to make a difference through their daily operations. Outside of class and work, Jen is an avid runner, hiker, and baker. 

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