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Is a Non-Traditional MBA Summer Internship Right for You? Why It Was for These Recent Stanford MBA Grads

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Several recent graduates from Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) decided to pursue unusual summer internships between their first and second years of business school, and we’re thrilled to continue spotlighting them here. Whether you’re gearing up to start your first year or still contemplating applying, their stories reveal the wide range of opportunities your own internship recruiting process could include.

In our earlier story—Break the Rules with Your Summer Internship­­­—a few recent Stanford MBA grads reflected on the non-traditional summer internships they chose, why they chose them, and what they learned.

Jenny Molyneaux, MBA ’18, spent her summer in Nairobi, Kenya, working for Branch, a for-profit socially conscious company bringing phone banking services to individuals in emerging markets. Yi Zhuang, MBA ’18, opted for an internship at Brigaid hoping to explore the intersection between food and sustainability. Founded by a famous chef, Brigaid is a  nonprofit working to improve the quality of U.S. public school lunches by having professionally trained chefs prepare them from scratch. And Sarah Rahman, MBA ’18, interned at venture philanthropy organization Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2). She wanted a mission-driven place where she could apply the skills she was developing in business school along with those she honed during six years in consulting.

In each of the choices they made, the graduates above sought to test hypotheses. Because really—isn’t that what any summer internship is all about? They also all decided to view the business school summer internship as the truly unique opportunity it is: a mid-career chance to step away and do something really different if you want to.

Today we’ll hear even more Stanford GSB 2018 grads share their own decisions to forgo more traditional summer internships at consulting firms and banks in favor of less-trodden paths. In this second installment, we’re get to meet two dual-degree students in Stanford’s combined MBA/master of education program. One opted to intern at a nonpartisan nonprofit in Washington, DC, trying to make the federal government more efficient. The other spent his summer in Oakland working for a charter school network.

And next week, in the final piece in our series on Stanford’s off-the-beaten track internships, we’ll hear from an entrepreneur looking to launch a socially-driven venture helping wheelchair users design affordable wheelchairs customized to their individual specifications. And last but not least, a duo who basically opted for the “Choose Your Own Adventure” internship. Wait, that’s an option?

Taken together, the stories from these Stanford grads help demonstrate some of the unique advantages non-traditional internship opportunities have to offer—as well as some of the sacrifices they can sometimes entail. Keep reading to see if a non-traditional MBA summer internship could be right for you.