What are Pre-MBA Programs and Early Recruiting?
Prior to joining Wharton, some students choose to participate in pre-MBA programs and internships for early career exploration, or to build their network. Pre-MBA programs and internships are designed to help students prepare for their MBA experience and learn about potential career paths through educational and networking activities, events, workshops, or multi-week internships. These types of programs are offered across a range of industries including consulting, finance, health care, tech, consumer products, and more. Pre-MBA programs can help students connect with companies in industries of interest, and can sometimes lead to an early offer for a summer internship between their first and second year of the MBA program.
Pre-MBA internships and experiences are not a required part of the Wharton MBA Program, but many students find they help build confidence and a career network before starting their MBA. Earlier this semester, Kyle Rodriguez (WG’23) shared his pre-MBA experience and tips to navigate the early recruitment process with Wharton MBA Career Management.
Before coming to Wharton, Kyle participated in Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), JumpStart Advisory Group, Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), and is a Toigo Fellow. With several years of full-time experience in consulting, he was prepared to come to Wharton and pursue a career in FinTech. Participating in pre-MBA programs allowed Kyle to talk to a variety of different companies, deepen his personal career goals, and ultimately solidify his MBA summer internship before arriving for his first year on campus. “I did early interviews and coffee chats with AmEx, Visa, BCG, Bain BASE, and a few VC firms.”
Each company approaches early recruiting differently, but much of the process is like an application process, with candidates moving on to subsequent interview rounds after showing interest in initial conversations. “BCG did Principal meetings in small groups throughout the summer, and then they flew me to Boston or Chicago for a couple days to interview early.”
How to prepare for your pre-MBA experience
Once invited to interview, most companies will give candidates a week to prepare, with specific instructions and demonstrations of what they are looking for. To prepare for his early interviews, Kyle decided to leverage the network he was already creating at Wharton. “I reached out to current Wharton students who were interning at these companies to see what resources they could share. I [also] did a lot of alumni outreach. Once you have Wharton on your LinkedIn profile, alumni are more than happy to connect with you.”
After pursuing a few different companies and industries with dreams of landing in a fintech startup, Kyle accepted an offer in consulting for his summer internship. Though his plans of switching careers changed, the early recruiting process helped him find clarity in his career path. “I think early recruiting helped me decide what I wanted to do. I was looking at big FinTech companies, consulting, and VC firms. I realized in the middle of the VC interview that VC was 100% not for me. I also realized that I didn’t want to do large FinTech, so that was another positive outcome.”
Outside of pre-MBA programs and early recruiting, there are several ways to explore different industries and prepare for a career change once students arrive on campus. When it came to exploring the FinTech and Startup spaces on campus, Kyle recalls joining Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Club, FinTech Club, and Business Analytics Club which allowed him to build tactical industry skills and learn firsthand experiences from his classmates who had previously worked in those industries.
“I did early recruiting so that I could make meaningful impacts on campus, which I’ve been able to do. I’m a Student Life Fellow, which is a big commitment but really rewarding, and a great way to connect with a bunch of people on campus. Having recruiting out of the way before coming to campus, you are able to get involved in areas where you usually wouldn’t have time. You’re not as stressed in the fall.”
The Wharton MBA Career Management Office helps students leverage and build upon previous professional accomplishments and provides personalized support on the journey to achieve internship and full-time success.
— Abby Behrends, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, MBA Admissions
Posted: August 16, 2022