Beyond the Books: Why internships and extracurriculars are essential for Business Management students
As I reflect back on the two years that I have spent at The University of Manchester, I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the countless hours spent planning events for societies, the sleepless nights spent fine-tuning my resume and cover letters, the sacrifices made, and the lessons learnt along the way. As an international student, the concept of a spring insight week, a summer internship, or even joining a society was completely foreign to me. By diving in headfirst and taking advantage of every opportunity that came my way, I was able to explore different avenues and eventually gain hands-on experience, develop new skills, and expand my network. For me, experiential learning through internships and extracurricular activities has been a game-changer.
Internships are more than just a line on your resume
During my summer as a business administration intern at a start-up, I gained valuable insights into how each department operated and how they collaborated to achieve common goals. This experience offered me a fresh perspective and allowed me to apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations. For instance, I was tasked to develop a marketing plan for a new collection launch that led me to apply theories of consumer behaviour, break-even analysis, and marketing positioning. It was like a puzzle coming together, and I was able to connect the dots between what I had learned in the classroom and how it played out in the workplace. My academic studies provided me with a foundation that was invaluable during my internship, and the two worlds enhanced each other in more ways than I could have imagined.
Fast forward to my second year of university, I applied for summer internships to over 30+ companies. The recruitment process required immense time, effort, and dedication; from researching companies, crafting cover letters, getting interview ready, and preparing for assessments. Each application felt like a shot in the dark, due to the competitiveness in the industry. However, through consistent persistence and hard work, I received offers from Goldman Sachs and NatWest. Being offered internships at these established institutions would undoubtedly kickstart my career, but going through the rigorous application process itself taught me valuable lessons about resilience, determination, and the importance of networking.
Through my experience, I can surely say that internships provide an opportunity for unmediated learning, enabling one to gain a deeper appreciation for and engagement with the business world, in a way that academic studies alone cannot match.
Getting involved: the importance of extracurriculars
As someone who was actively involved in volunteering and heading student clubs throughout high school, I knew that I didn’t want to stop that streak when I entered university. Therefore, I decided to take on four leadership roles in different societies despite being unfamiliar with the environment here. Each society I joined helped me grow in more ways than one could imagine. The Indian Society taught me the art of strategizing on the go, while Enactus helped me develop my people management skills. In Women in Business and Manchester MUN, I improved my soft business skills such as networking, decision-making, communication, and delegation.
The past two years have been an exciting adventure of personal growth, professional development, and self-discovery. Looking back, I wish I could tell my younger self to take the leap, embrace challenges, and explore opportunities, because in the end, it’s all worth it.
Written by Saira, current BSc Management with Industrial/Professional Experience student