The first major milestone after joining your b-school is Summer Internship! Before joining MBA, I was gasping in disbelief when I heard that summers (Summer Internship placement is fondly called as Summers) would happen in September. It was hard for me to believe as I would have barely gained much “MBA Knowledge” and on what grounds would I get selected and all that. The sequence of the recruitment is Pre-process and/or resume based shortlist and/or psychometric test, case discussion/group discussion followed by an interview(s). In the same order, let me brief you how to ace each of these rounds.
- Resume: NEVER take your resume for granted. Give it utmost importance and detail. Your resume represents you during summers. Prepare a mock resume in advance and your b-school seniors would help you to enhance it. Add in all your achievements and make it the best looking one ever. In case you are not able to expand your resume, start working from day 1 by taking up MOOC (edx.org, coursera.org etc). Add in magical resume words and highlight those points that would immediately want to make recruiters recruit you. It is never wrong to take time off to prepare an amazing resume. Also do not forget to make variants for domains in addition to your general variant biz Finance variant, marketing variant etc. Each domain focuses on various parts of your resume so you can emphasise on that for each resume variant.
- Pre-process: Most of the companies will give you a pre-process either in the form of video resume, online tests like Quants, Verbal etc. (Come on you guys have cracked those huge b-school entrances, you will be fine.. just brush up the basics in case your brain has rusted a bit.) and/or give you basic questions about yourself like explain a situation where you failed, your success story, a time when you realised the importance of teamwork etc. Write nothing but the truth here. Interviews might be based on these questions and trust me HR personals have their ways of finding out if you had used another person’s story or not. Also write crisp answers. Recruiters have hundreds of copies to read and it is excusable if they drift off with your long answers. Make the first two lines and the last two capture the essence of your whole answer. Your b-school seniors might send you certain sample questions in advance. Take it seriously and start framing your responses in advance. When summers start you need not hither and thither around for your responses. Also, keep in mind that shortlists will happen based on your responses.
- Psychometric tests: These tests are conducted basically to check if you would align to the recruiter’s work culture. My only advice would be “Be Yourself”. Put yourself in that situation and ask yourself what you would do. Psychometric tests basically have repetitive questions framed in various ways. If you were to think and choose the “best” response and not what you would do, your inconsistency in your responses would let the cat out of the bag that you are not being yourself. Do not be afraid to be yourself.
- Case Discussion: Read the case well. As yourself 3 most important questions and immediately try to find answers from the case. What is the case about, what is the problem statement and suggestions to resolve the problems? These are the 3 high-level questions. Dive in depth too depending on the time given to read the case. Unless and until you have 100% clarity of the case do not plunge in to kick start the case; else dive in by explaining the case and steering it. The usual group discussion rules apply here. Be a good listener and have eye-contact with everyone. Never be afraid to point out your solutions. Also give a lot of attention to detail to the case facts/ figures. They might contain the most important insights. Keep your flow structured and be confident and not overconfident.
- Group Discussion: Who else better than MBA students know better about group discussions? But never take it for granted. Follow the usual Group Discussion norms and most importantly, never create the fish-market scenario for your GD, as the whole group might get scraped off from the process. Also, learn how you can dilute the fish-market situation. If you could, then the chances that you get selected for the next round is very high. There is this small trick that I follow. Often people plunge in to kick start the GD. In that hurry, they may miss out certain points. That is where you can jump in by saying, “before we proceed, let us try to define etc etc”. For example in one of my GDs, the topic was smart work vs. hard work. One guy started, “So the topic today is hard work vs. smart work. I will prefer smart work as …”. That was when I came in and said, “Let us first define what smart work is and hard work is so that our discussion can be on equal grounds”. So it is fine if you are not the first one to start, but be the first one to bring clarity to the discussion.
- Interview(s): Interviews can be anything under the sky. It might include “guesstimates”, about you, your resume points, your work experience, MBA technical knowledge and even cases discussed in classes. Mostly by the time summers start, you would have your preferred domains. Dive in depth for knowledge in each of your preferred domains. For instance, finance enthusiasts, listen to classes well and grasp all concepts taught in all finance classes well. (There is a lot more of preparation you can do. I am not much of a finance enthusiasts so I would suggest your seniors who share your interest can guide you better), marketing guys, Kotler should be your mantra- And trust me Kotler is NOT overrated! And also pay attention to all the cases in class. At the bare minimum, have at least 3 cases you can talk in detail for each domain and know at least the problem statement and solution for the other cases. This would seem overwhelming now but pay attention in classes and you are good to go. Also, prepare a good response for “tell me about you”. Make it captivating and have at least one point of differentiation. Strategise what you would do and how you would respond to a question for which you are not sure about the answer. And most importantly research about the company and check whether the values of the organisation is aligned with yours. Other than this, you guys would have just freshly cracked b-school interviews, same mantra follows here.
Summers are usually scary (they say). There will be tough competition, unexpected turn of events, crazy placement arenas and all that (they say). Take the placement training seriously and attend all the sessions....Just remember, this is only the first lap, and no matter what, play your part and you will get the best. Never lose hopes, (I got placed on day 5! But I had the best internship ever! Read about it here). Your aim should be to get placed in the best-aligned job and do not be ready to settle for a job you may not like. Fight hard for it and you would get the best... Oh and always remember to smile, as nothing else but meteors attacking Earth would mean the end of the world!