MBA studies and internships?

Many prospective MBA students consider undertaking an internship during their studies.  An internship can add greatly to your degree but unless you approach this carefully it can also cause disruption to your degree. 

Here, I’m thinking of the kind of internships with no formal agreement about the intern’s role and responsibilities – the kind of internship where the intern ends up working long hours and maybe on something entirely irrelevant to their degree and future career.  Once you are in your internship company, and if this is offered, it is also extremely tempting to get involved in matters outside the internship.  While this can add greatly to your experience and maybe lead to a job, you need to be cautious about whether it is taking too much time away from your studies.  Yes, it can be a difficult balance to strike.

Finding an internship can also take time.  You will of course find many standard internship schemes but are they exactly what you are looking for?  If they are you should still be aware that many of these only have one intake a year and this may not have a perfect fit with your studies.  Many MBA students find internships of an informal nature through networking: here, as in the job market, it is also about who you know.

Once you have found it I would advise that you agree exactly what you will do during your internship period.  If you become part of a formal internship scheme this is likely to be decided before you apply but if your internship is arrabged ad hoc then you really should have a written agreement with the company about the duration of the internship as well as your role and responsibilities.  And your payment if any.

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Three weeks to go…

Hello to all of you, out there getting ready to come to the University of Edinburgh Business School to take up your MBA studies.  Also, hello to those coming to take an MSc or an undergraduate degree.  You are all very welcome!

This is a time for big changes in your life.  Uprooting yourself, and maybe your family, takes courage and also a lot of planning.  It will be worth it though.  Incoming MBA students will have been offered to link up with current students or alumni who would be able to offer help and suggestions.  School staff is of course also very happy to provide any help we can so just get in touch.

Round about this time, I always get so excited about meeting the new class but also somewhat stressed as there is quite a lot to see to in these next three weeks.  No two years are the same.  Luckily, we have a very good team supporting the MBA side so that helps me a lot.  We have put together an Induction programme with both serious and fun elements, a programme that should help the new class to get to know each other.

Gap year?

I read only three months ago that an increasing number of businesses are offering employees the opportunity of a gap year.  This may have changed as the effects of the credit crunch is becoming more visible.  Even so it is still an option in many companies.  Is it time for your gap year?

It was reported that about half of UK companies offer gap years or career breaks to their employees.  The model for this can be anything from mutually agreed resignation with the possibility of being employed later to unpaid sabbatical while remaining on contract and then returning on an agreed date.  Many alternatives exist of the latter model from simply bumming around over doing voluntary work to undertaking formal education.  Is this a model for taking out time to do an MBA?  That entirely depends on the agreement you reach with your employer.

If you are considering this, or indeed if you are sponsored to undertake your MBA, then it is essential that you maintain contact with your employer during your studies.  You will be a very different person after your MBA and if you are to return to your old role then this may be very unsatisfactory for you – and the company – and it can all end in tears.

However, it is probably reasonable to assume that gap years are not so readily available in the current economic climate.  Therefore you must come to a very clear agreement with your employer if you are to take time off for education.

Another short break

You may have noticed that it has been some time since my last entry.  I took some time off and I’m pleased to say that I did not have any injuries this time.  I went to the New Forest, well worth a visit, so all in all a better holiday than my last break.  I’ve also taken the opportunity to do see a some shows in the Festival.  I certainly had a good laugh Sunday when I went to see Danny Bhoy, a Scottish comedian, and also on Monday evening when I saw Omid Djalili, a British-Iranian actor and comedian.  And as a last treat before going back to work I went to a concert, a programme of Chopin with one piece by Rachmaninov.

But now it’s back to work and to the preparations for the incoming class.  We have another exciting group of students coming in in September and it will be so nice to meet them all.  I’m pleased to say that we are making good progress will all the preparations.  You may not know much about what this entails but I can assure you that it is a complicated job.  Just think about creating timetables for the MBA and a number of MSc programmes and the associated room bookings.

The current class are putting their final touches to their dissertations and then another year will have passed.  I think they will all be amazed that the year passed so fast.

What a difference a year makes…

Royal Bank of Scotland have today announced losses of almost £700 million.  Compare this to the £5 billion profits announced last year and see what a year of write-downs have caused in the banking world.  As we have seen, this credit crunch is not just something that affects the banking world but many other industries.  And of course you and me.

Credit crunch?

“Credit crunch”, it has become one of the most frequently heard terms and it is a fact that both business and private people have suffered from the effect of this: big banks report enormous losses, companies lay off staff and home owners who attempt to sell their home can hardly even give their property away.  As the World sees the effects of this ‘crunch’ it was interesting to speak to a prospective student from Zambia yesterday.  The person I spoke to mentioned that Zambian banks are so careful about investigating potential borrowers that the ‘credit crunch’ seems to be largely an unknown quantity.  This may very well be the case in other countries, not just African, that apply a prudent approach to lending.  It could be interesting to hear views from your home country on this.

In the weekend I notice a bit of news headed “Microsoft sees end of Windows era”.  It was a report about their development of the new Midori project.  Future developments seems to require the need to move operating systems away from our computer because this creates too many dependencies. A Midori type product should do away with having to rely on what you computer is limited to because of your Windows Operating system.  These are very exciting ideas.  Doubters however may ask questions about security and the ability to monitor our IT usage.  In any case, this is not just round the corner so for now we can carry on as usual.

Month and a half to go…

Yes, there really is only six weeks to go before the new MBA class arrives for Induction Week.  A few are already here and it is such a pleasure to finally get to meet all these people with whom I’ve been communicating over the phone or via email.  People have all sorts of issues they wish to discuss now that they are here, at this point in time mostly of a practical nature, and it is just as important to offer support on these issues.  It all serves to make the settling in easier.  Especially for those in the class that have up-rooted their family to come here.  I suppose that when I took on the job as Director I didn’t actually expect having to advise on primary school choice and so on (no matter how well you are prepared there will always be something you didn’t anticipate) but it is of course so important to make sure that both students and their families are happy as this is a prime condition for success in the programme.  If someone is worried about their family this will affect their whole experience.  It is all about getting the balance right.