By Kristin Kaden Dreyer
Many graduate schools maintain strong relationships with employers who seek well-qualified interns to train and eventually hire within their organizations. This is the case for Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business, whose MBA program has historically enjoyed 100% summer internship placement.
But almost overnight, many companies—like Google and Microsoft—are pivoting internship programs in 2020 to virtual or online-only options. An article in the Chicago Tribune indicated that upended plans find students participating in internships from home offices rather than in bustling office buildings. A poll by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that as of April 2020, 29% of employers have moved to a remote internship—a trend exemplified by full-time Baylor MBA student, Corrie Penraat.
Penraat began working as a strategic sourcing intern at the Walt Disney Co. in Anaheim, California, in January 2020, but is now working from her home in San Clemente, California, with her 20+ Disney team members spread across the country. "It's a lot different working remotely—my days start earlier and end later," Penraat said. "I am always ready to receive phone calls, which requires flexibility in scheduling and communicating with managers at Disney."
According to Laurie Wilson, Director of Graduate Business Degree Programs at Baylor University, this changes the environment for summer internships but also provides opportunities for demonstrating flexibility by students. Michael Estepp, Director of Baylor University's Career Center, adds that "resilience, tenacity, and grit" also come into play as remote internships ramp up. "In any situation, we want our MBAs to stand out as exceptionally durable with a willingness to pivot to meet new challenges," he said. "While nobody could have predicted the harsh impact of COVID-19, our students have a unique opportunity to learn and to embrace how to be successful while making a positive impact."
Graduate student Penraat agrees and credits the coursework and professors at Baylor for her strong foundation in making the transition. "Baylor lecturer April Rowsey's communication class really helped me to work professionally with virtual teams," Corrie said. "Working full time—even remotely—has been a breeze because of this."
While the internship location can change, the benefits of working for a company do not. An article in the Harvard Business Review highlights some of the key factors in making the most of an internship, including punctuality, resourcefulness, and taking on more work without being asked. These are key factors in completing a successful internship, regardless of being onsite or working remotely.
Interns still credit their ability to network with people across different departments and business units as well as tie into human resource managers—even if they are doing so remotely. According to Penraat, the exposure to the inside workings of Disney, one of the world's most respected brands, has been extremely rewarding. "The cast members at Disney are top-tier individuals and I have been honored to work alongside them," said Penraat, whose internship involves in-depth electronic bid analysis and contract alterations of Disneyland Resort spending in commodities, like food and beverage.
"My job is to help Disney to find savings opportunities," she said, suggesting that the "people who make the place," regardless of where they physically work. "While I may not end up finding a permanent position on my team, the experience has been invaluable in getting my foot in the door," she said.
According to Estepp, it's important that students stay positive and focused. "We know our students will be in high demand once this pandemic slows down, and positioning them for that day is essential," Estepp said. "Now is not the time for an MBA student to take their foot off the gas. Rather, students can enhance their skillsets through certifications and by paving new, innovative paths toward employment."
With a fluid economic environment, an internship may be canceled. An article in Forbes suggests that students still have options, like asking a boss or mentor if work can be done remotely or even start a project on your own. Baylor's Estepp adds that Baylor counsels MBA students to focus on four things in the midst of internship cancellations:
Above all, don't give up. "Companies are still hiring in midst of COVID-19, so we prepare students to not only work remotely but perhaps consider different positions than originally planned," Wilson said. "Career development and internships are a hallmark of our MBA program and we make it our priority to support our students—especially during times like these," Wilson said.
Baylor MBA programs are designed strategically for professionals looking to take their careers to the next level in leadership. Rigorous MBA classes taught by dedicated faculty and industry experts offer both theoretical knowledge and the practical skills required to succeed in modern global business. Wherever you are in your career today, Baylor has an MBA program to fit your lifestyle and move you toward your professional goals: Full-Time MBA, Executive MBA in Dallas, Executive MBA in Austin, and an Online MBA.
Prospective candidates can learn more about all Baylor MBA programs by visiting the Baylor MBA website.