Of pre-MBA internships and all the other maybes

3 minute read

You’ve got into the school your Potterhead self would be proud of. When it finally sinks in, after several weeks, you’re left with one question: What do I do next? Because simply getting into one of the best universities in the world isn’t enough! You start to fret over how you will spend time between now and the future that’s here, but not quite. This is the story of how I decided to spend my pre-MBA period.

There seem to be a hundred different ways to spend this time, each laid with the constant call-out that you won’t get this period again! Do you continue the growth trajectory at your current organisation? Or start building your network with the thriving Oxford community? Maybe finally get your Scuba certification! Or simply spend time with yourself and your loved ones?

Truth is that there is no one right way to do this. The choice is based on your context and what works best for you!

I decided to work towards the career transition I am hoping to make post-MBA. I am a mass media undergraduate with 7 years of experience as a brand strategist working across a plethora of brands. I aim to work in tech, and shape not just brand stories but also the product itself. I decided my path would be interning with a tech company. A part of the decision fuelled from wanting to experience a product, and the other from the fear of not wasting time.

Now while a pre-MBA internship seems like the thing to do, it never really is that simple. From reaching out to several companies and hearing from a few, to thinking you’ll just do what you get, to finally prioritising what you want from the internship is quite a journey. It took me a few months to acknowledge that an unpaid internship at this point was an absolute no-go for me. Don’t try to rush it, and don’t pressurise yourself into doing it just for the sake of it.

Eventually, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with an edtech start-up, with a founder I found truly inspiring. The role would entail things I hadn’t done before, and it was a sector I only knew superficially. I didn’t know if I’d be any good at it, I had worked too long with familiar people, doing familiar things. But maybe, just maybe it would be a great new experience, with tremendous learning!

Two months in, I realise how completely different this is from anything I’ve done in the past. I am learning how little I know about a lot of things! Work has ranged thus far from making sales cold calls, to building strategic partnerships with brands, with only more exposure added every other week. It is equal parts exciting, and nerve wrecking.

As fate would have it, more recently, I have been working on the product end of things thanks to the founder who maybe thought I could do it, or thought I couldn’t do anything else! It has me collaborating with the developer and the engineer, speaking to our clients on their experience with the product, and understanding why we need to make the changes we do.

It’s been a process of learning on the go (with a little help from my super helpful cohort mates), making mistakes, trying things, in the hope that maybe, it’ll lead to something meaningful.

And that’s what it has also been: a stroke of maybe’s, of not knowing what you’re doing but hoping things will lead to something, and of taking that chance.

So give yourself that chance to do what you truly want to. Whatever that maybe. An internship, travel plans, a new hobby, time with family. Because maybe you’ll know what you really like doing, or better still, what you really don’t!

And that’s always a good starting point.