MLHR Internships: You Hate To Love

I am guessing/positive that most Fisher graduate programs either require or strongly suggest their students to get a summer internship throughout their studies.  Being that I am only in the MLHR program, I can only speak from that experience.  In the MLHR program, some kind of summer work is a required. The 3 options are:

1. Conduct research: Students have the opportunity to do research and write a thesis.  This is probably the least road traveled, but it is not absolutely uncommon (I know at least one person in my cohort who did this option).  Since most of what we learn in the program is applied, the knowledge is…applied…to a work setting.  From what I gather, most people who end up doing this end up wanting to get their PhD in the field.

2. HR Project: This too is not frequently done.  That is due to the fact that this is the option that part-time students do (and there are generally less part-time students in a class…there is no WPMLHR program like the MBAs.  We’re all together.)  They are require to do an HR related project at their current place of employment outside of the scope of what their job does.  For example, if I were a Compensation Analyst, I would need to do a Staffing or Training project.  It makes sense, because if you’re already doing something that you are already familiar with, you’re really not learning.  This requires a report to be written when the project is completed.

3. Internship: This is what most students do.  This requires the student obtaining working experience (generally in the summer) to apply what they have learned in the classroom.  This requires a paper to be submitted.

I did the internship, so I will comment on how that is like for the MLHR student (for the most part).


The pressure of getting an internship can be extreme.  Fisher will be telling you before you even have your first class starts how important it is you need to stay on top of the internship search.  I had prior internship experience when I came in the program, but I am sure that there were even more jitters to people who came in with no business or human resources experience.

Then your classes actually start and the rigor of graduate school hits you out of nowhere.  You can barely keep on top of your readings and you are still expected to get an internship that you basically need to graduate? SCARY.

Then there is embarrassment/jealousy that you may or may not feel.  No matter what, if you are pursuing an internship you will get one (people have gotten internships around May or June…literally weeks before the summer starts).  Some people will start to get internships with great companies, while you keep getting rejection letters, and having to take time out of your day to go to interviews (when you could be reading) to leave an interview “feeling okay”.  Ugh.  This gets worse depending on how long it takes you to actually get an interview.  Unfortunately, your classmates don’t make it better by posting on Facebook about their offers and asking you if you have an internship (no one is trying to mean – it just is what it is).

My internship was in Columbus.  Many people end up leaving Columbus, and having to move to another city for 3 months.  I am sure that causes a whole plate of annoying that I can speak of.

So after doing all this work to find an internship, you have to write a paper.  The paper requires having an internship advisor.  In my first year, I had a total of 5 teachers (one ended up leaving at the end of the year so that would have not been an option).  It can be really hard trying to think of a professor you think you have a connection with enough to be your advisor.  I had 4 classes with my advisor and really liked him, but he taught 2 of the basic classes we had to take so he was a hot topic advisor.

The internship paper.  SUCH a drag.  Seriously.  I seriously recommend taking a laid back approach like I did.  I know some people started working on their paper during their internship, and some people worked on it throughout the entire quarter.  I got an A and wrote my in about 5 days (25 or so hours).  I personally find it hard to constantly pick up from my frame a thought over and over.  My paper was about 30 pages of written content and 140ish of appendices (last year’s cohort would tell that their papers were such and such long without the breakdown and it freaked me out)…just follow the outline given in MyFisher.  I locked myself in the Gerlach computer lounge for hours just to write for 3 days.  The 4th day I edited my work, and then the 5th day I put together everything in the final product.   This might have given some people anxiety about doing something at the last minute (I did it the week before finals), but I really didn’t think about it until I actually knew I had to dig in and was ready to do it.  And I still managed to finish before a lot of people in my cohort (but that was because I had an early due date probably).


The internship hunt gives you good networking opportunities and interviewing experience.  As time consuming, grueling, and disappointing it can be, it is something that is very helpful.  I feel that recruiting for a private sector position is the most intense, so I think students in business schools end up going on a lot more interviews and networking events than the average internship-seeking individual and will be good for you later in life when seeking different career opportunities.

Trying to find an internship and deal with the newness of graduate school academics isn’t easy, but graduate school-level work only gets harder.  Being able to juggle these tasks, and keep your head afloat, you will be glad that you learned how to manage your time to deal with some of the classes that you will have to take.

Like I said before, everyone who pursues the internship option eventually finds one.  When you finally get that offer, it is such a good feeling and you’ll have a ton of people like your status if you post i on Facebook.  Plus, you can finally take that heavy weight off of your heart.  This is more satisfying depending on how long it takes you to get one.

NOTE:  Definitely market the skills you have learned if you still have not gotten an internship.   Your classmate may have gotten an offer in November, but in February you know more about HR then that person did when they interviewed so use it to your advantage!

I’m sure the people who left Columbus for their internship got to meet amazing people in different environments.  Good for them!

Selecting an internship advisor is tough, but it can be away for you to help get further connected with faculty or introduce yourself to faculty that you have never encountered.  Plenty of people have chosen faculty to be their advisors who had not yet taught us a class, had/will never teach us a class, or do not even have that close of an affiliation to the MLHR program.

The feeling of completing your internship paper is about the same as finding out that you have an internship.  You are so glad to finally have it done.  On top of that, I was very proud of the work I had done.  I have never produced so much content in my life.  Even the appendices that I had was still work that I created.  I would have never thought I would be able to individually produce such work (and good work to according to Professor Heneman).

Finally, the ultimate reason we come to into this program is to achieve some kind of employment once we get our degree.  Some people in the program received full-time offers weeks after their internship was over with the company they had worked for.  Some are still being considered for future employment with the company they interned for because of the quality of their work.  There are at least 2 people in my cohort whose summer internships extended past September, because they were such rockstars.  No matter what, it is amazing work experience that will help you get a job.  In my case, my internship experiences allowed me to get a job (with a different organization).

Again, I find myself ranting but finding an internship is one of those things that you will make you jump up and down, and jump and down…while punching a wall.   No matter how frustrating any part of the process is…from finding the internship, from not knowing what you are going to write about…it is good for you.

Until next week!