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How Not to Mess Up Your MBA Product Management Internship

How Not to Mess Up Your MBA Product Management Internship – Maximizing Your Time

Okay, so you nailed the interview and have an MBA internship this summer on a Product Management team. So how do you make the most of this internship and make sure you are getting some valuable experience and not just wasting your time? From someone who has experienced it, here are 3 important things to keep in mind.

  1. Know Your Role – Not all Product Management internships are alike. Make sure you get a list of duties for what you will be doing and understand the skills you need to bring to the table.  Talk to your supervisor and team before you show up to get a list of duties and responsibilities you will have.  Go in having done your research so you can start working on the first day, and not having to spend a lot of time ramping up on something you could have easily just done 15 minutes of internet research to learn.
  2. Get Involved with the Day to Day – This is important. Some MBA internships just assign some type of research project and a presentation at the end of the summer, and that’s their whole internship.  Make sure this is NOT your only task for your summer.  What happens to these MBAs is they come back from their internship with just one bullet point of resume material, and no new skills added.  Doing internet research and power point presentation at the end of summer does NOT expand your knowledge or skill set, I’m pretty sure you knew how to do that before the summer. Make sure you are involved in more than just a research project, and have some day to day tasks that can actually affect the company business.  Get involved in some of the daily activities by asking other Product Managers what help they need.  There’s a lot of advantages to this, as it makes you look like a go getter, it expands your knowledge base, and you get experience of what a real Product Manager does in that company.  Some good ways are to assist in live events, compiling weekly reports, or writing out feature specs.  Ask to sit in on as many meetings as you can, and these opportunities will show up more.
  3. Schedule as Many 1 on 1s as You Can – You have two jobs during your internship. One is to do the job you were hired to do obviously.  The second is to meet as many people in your company and make as many network connections as you can.  Schedule coffee chats with every one in your company regardless of department. Directors, managers, VPs, as many as you can. You only have 3 months and a lot of these people are busy, so start right away.  You have a perfect reason to, you’re the new intern and you are trying to learn about the company.  During your 1 on 1s ask what they do, what they like or dislike about the company, and advice to you for success.  The more perspectives you get the better.

Product Management is a great career choice and track, so it’s important to not waste your time or the companies time during your MBA internship.  It’s a time to add value to the company, grow your skillset, and give you something to talk about during full time job interviews your second year, so don’t squander your opportunities.

Chris Kao is Product Manager, MBA, and proud Trojan. Contact him at “Chris.kao” AT “gmail.com”

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