MBA internships are up in the air: What does this mean for candidates?

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Disney has put internships and job offers on hold.

By U2B Staff 

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It has been a year of upheaval for MBA students as well as MBA prospects. Business schools around the globe have taken measures to mitigate the effects of the crisis  – several schools have moved classes online and postponed events until international and domestic travel is resumed. MBA testing has moved online while business schools are expecting a fall in applications and admissions and now MBA internships are also up in the air, as students discover that their summer internship programmes will be conducted virtually, while others will be scrapped altogether.

The job market outlook is not rosy, but schools and employers remain optimistic

The survey results reflect the uncertainty caused by the effects of COVID-19. by MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance MBA CSEA published the findings of a survey, the 2020 COVID-19 School Quick Survey Summary Report conducted on 59 member schools for additional insight into the current summer internship market.

This survey revealed that overall, uncertainty plagues the job market resulting in a “wait and see” approach from internship employers. The market is saturated with hiring freezes and retrenchments, as jobs are made redundant or some jobs have evolved into virtual positions.

The survey also provides some insight into hiring changes across industries. Overall, the entertainment, advertising/marketing, airlines, hospitality industries are facing a sharp decline in hiring.

Conversely, some industries are seeing an increase in hiring, including technology, online-based services, food and beverage, food delivery, insurance, financial and risk management, healthcare, medical devices, government, data science and analytics, digital animation, retail as well as supply chain operations.

Hiring freezes will cause a decline in hiring for full-time positions and some full-time job offers are also rescinded by employers. Overall, there is some concern in terms of job stability, but survey respondents are quite optimistic about opening hiring in the coming months.


To circumnavigate these effects, business schools are reportedly taking several steps to provide more support to students. Among others, schools are providing support and coaching in some of these areas including assisting students on how to conduct job searches during this time. Students are also being given support in terms of how to manage their job search branding documents and how to pivot and execute backup plans. Schools are also providing support on virtual interviewing and virtual recruitment.

Business schools are also taking concrete steps to match students with potential employers by creating executive biographies of students who are seeking internship opportunities and sharing them with alumni and employment partners. Schools are also engaging board members, corporate partners as well as alumni to assist students by posting internship opportunities while also exploring alternative summer internship options.

What does this mean for MBA internships?

According to the 2019 Fall Recruiting Trends Survey published by MBA CSEA, many MBA internship employers are responding differently to the COVID-19 pandemic which has since shuttered many businesses across the globe.

In this report, the alliance finds that 79% of responding schools report employers going virtual with some or all internships while the same number report reductions in the number of internship-hires. While 60% of employers are reported to rescind internship offers, 45% are pushing back internship start dates.

Bain & Company, for example, is continuing with its Bain’s Summer Associate (SA) programme virtually. The fully virtual ExperienceBain internship lets MBA candidates develop new skills experiences and connections just like they would in a regular programme.

Upon training, candidates can work directly with case teams and clients to solve business problems and drive change. Candidates who meet performance expectations can also expect to receive offers to return as full-time consultants with the company, upon graduating.

A list of companies offering virtual MBA internships includes Bloomberg, JPMorgan, PlayStation, AIG, Expedia, Warner Media, and even Waymo, a subsidiary of

However, some companies have cancelled internships including United Airlines, Disney, and even Buzzfeed.


What does this mean for the future of the MBA?

MBA CSEA President Beth Ursin asserts that the MBA will retain its value to industries, “There’s a strong market for the skills that MBA and graduate business talent bring when the economy is solid,” says Ursin, who is also assistant dean and director of career management at Willamette University MBA in Oregon. “Equally important are the talents that these students bring to employers in the current situation, such as problem-solving, entering new markets, resiliency planning, and strategy.”

The report also stated that business schools have facilitated short-term projects to provide real-world experience for students whose internship programmes were cancelled, allowing them to work with non-profits and small businesses to lend assistance with things such as resiliency plans and re-evaluation.