Every student entering business school needs some practical experience alongside the academic business theory. It’s a simple fact of life: things don’t always go according to plan and, when there are challenges, real-life experience proves valuable.
On Cranfield School of Management’s Management MSc, every student that wants one gets an industry internship as part of the course—one or two students each year prefer a traditional MSc thesis. The school has long standing links with industry and utilizes them to make sure all its students—pre-experience or otherwise—get the added real-life business exposure they need to grow.
Jonas Geelhaar, now working as a consultant with PwC in his native Germany, interned at semiconductor firm Arm Holdings in Cambridge during Cranfield’s Management MSc.
“The internship underlined the relation between theory and practice throughout the program,” he says. “You get three months to go out and put into practice what you’ve learned. This is linked with your thesis, so you have your client and you solve a problem and write about that.”
With such a diverse class coming from all over the world the internship, these placements offer many students a chance to experience working in the UK.
“For me, as a foreigner, it was a great opportunity to combine my educational experience in the UK with work experience in the UK, and fantastic preparation to later start my career at a UK company!” Jonas says.
Several of Jonas’ Management MSc classmates joined the companies they interned with—it’s not just the students that benefit. Companies offering these placements get top candidates working for them for the three-month period and can use it as a testing ground for new talent.
“We get real thought diversity through the internships. It’s great to see the students challenge the status quo, bring fresh thinking, and alternative perspectives,” explains Tim Ballard, general manager at engineering services firm Finning—one of the companies that currently hosts Cranfield students.
“This does two things,” he continues. “First, it challenges our existing thought patterns, and second, it helps qualify what we are doing.
“It also helps us develop our understanding of intersectionality across the different demographics in our team, find new approaches, and learn from the fresh and imaginative approach they tend to bring.”
For Tim, the quality of candidates and the opportunity for the company to learn something new are the two major reasons why they’re happy to host Cranfield students year after year.
“The initial impact was refreshingly different in approach, culture, working style, and fashion sense!” he laughs.
“The Management MSc from Cranfield offers a positive mutual experience with an opportunity to test the waters, whilst injecting very capable talent into our teams,” he continues.
“At the end of the internship, we were pleased to offer one of the interns a full-time position at Finning. They were able to contribute significantly during the internship and threw themselves into the work, company, and their passion was evident.”
While Jonas’ internship experience didn’t translate into a full-time job right away, it helped him broaden his business knowledge and experience to prepare him for the diverse consulting role he really wanted at PwC.
“A consultant should have more knowledge on the big picture and how different parts of a business work together,” Jonas explains.
“During the Cranfield Management MSc, we were trained partly as entrepreneurs and partly as company leaders. It got me to the point that I’m able to move across different business areas—it changed my view on companies and on business.”