Internships & Summer Holidays at INSEAD
When describing the curriculum of my MBA program to my friends and family, many were surprised to learn that the program itself is actually ten months, with a two-month summer break for the classes with January starts (July graduates do not have an extended break). In the months leading-up to my year at INSEAD I had assumed that almost all of the MBA participants spent the summer working; however, only 62% of the Class of 15D chose this option.
While I was lucky enough to secure an internship at a reputable Middle Eastern venture capital firm, many of my peers spent this summer scattered across the globe, some working, some studying, and others simply relaxing.
The first choice for many INSEAD students is to secure an internship, with this option being especially popular for those who are seeking to switch careers or geographies. Recruiting for internships began on day one back in January; I even remember seeing my peers prepping for interviews with the investment banks before everyone had arrived to Fontainebleau. Consulting interviews followed in March, and industry roles were scattered across the first three periods. INSEAD’s career services are very proactive in preparing you for interviews if you decide to pursue one and will meet with you regularly to help with resume writing, career trek planning, and answering industry-specific questions.
For those seeking roles in the startup ecosystem, the process is slightly less structured. Many startups have limited budgets, seek specific skill sets, and have more informal hiring processes. Finding a summer role in a startup, venture capital firm, or startup accelerator is heavily dependent on your network, so the best approach is to start reaching out to companies that interest you as soon as you arrive on campus.
In the end my classmates ended up interning at startups everywhere from Singapore to Iran to Paris, private equity firms in Dubai, investment banks in London and New York, NGOs in Africa, the World Bank in Washington, and with top consulting firms on virtually every continent.
Summer Language Courses
While INSEAD has a very strong reputation inside of France, many graduates find it difficult to find work in the country without speaking French. Prior to securing my internship, I began searching for courses across France because I thought it would be a beneficial but also fun use of time to take intensive courses. Several of my classmates found excellent programs in beautiful costal cities in France in what I can only imagine is a welcome change of academic pace from INSEAD.
Travel & Vacation
Of course, the combination of an intense six months leading up to our holiday and our beautiful European surroundings left some of my peers wanting nothing more than to travel and relax. Some took road trips, others backpacked across Europe, and some simply returned to their home countries to visit friends and family.
Your summer is yours to spend how you wish. There is no pressure to make one choice or the other, and if you haven’t found the right internship or summer project, don’t worry. Take time off and use it to travel, network, and get your bearings for the remaining four months of courses!