Copenhagen MBA internship insight

Talking points: Your internship and you

We recently brought together Andy Mellor (MBA Admissions Manager), Maria Valentin Palgaard (Careers and Alumni Manager) and Catherine Merlo (MBA alumni) to discuss how you can secure the right internship, and then use the experience to successfully launch yourself into the job market.

What is an internship exactly?

The internship opportunity with the CBS MBA programme gives participants a chance to gain experience in a role they’re interested in, apply the skills they’ve acquired during their studies, and get acquainted with the Danish job market.

As Careers and Alumni Manager Maria says, “The internships run from 1st May to mid-August and have an academic angle in that they encompass the strategy project, which is based on solving a multi-disciplinary strategic issue for the company. You will be examined on this as part of the programme.”

“Of course, you will also be working at the company,” Maria continues, “Embedded into a team and spending on average 25 hours a week. You really do become part of the company, but the reason why we recommend a maximum of 25 hours is because you will also have some weeks of commitment to your studies at CBS.”

What opportunities are available?

There’s a varied selection when it comes to the types of industries on offer. As Maria elaborates, “Students really do end up in a very diverse group of companies. We have everything from our major corporations in Denmark such as energy and renewables companies, to Maersk the internationally-renowned shipping company, vibrant SMEs and exciting businesses in the start-up space.”

How does it work?

Through the CBS network and Career Services team, finding a rewarding internship opportunity is possible. As Maria says, “There’s a really high interest from our alumni network and wider stakeholders to provide internship opportunities to current MBA participants. For example, our most recent class, which have now graduated, had more projects available to them than there were students!”

“We’re in a very good position to help open doors for participants,” Maria continues, “but we don’t promise to deliver a project. In fact, some come into the programme with a company in mind already, so it can really differ from student to student.”

What value can it add to your career?

Catherine Merlo, Sustainability Strategy Consultant at Dissing + Weitling is now implementing the strategy that she masterminded during her MBA internship.

As Catherine explains, “I knew I wanted an internship that could help me strengthen my career narrative.” While she didn’t go into the placement expecting to land a full-time position, Catherine impressed during her internship and with the strategy she created for the company.

“At the time I did not see any possibility of converting this into a job as such,” Catherine elaborates, “and that was largely because of how I entered the relationship. I saw this as external consulting and as an opportunity to bridge non-profit Arts with an applied Arts-for-profit business into a sustainability job function elsewhere.”

“My internship host and I really created a relationship that allowed for that attitude,” she continues, “so I while I was embedded in the company, I wasn’t working on any additional projects but was instead an external consultant. Yet within that I was still able to develop relationships and so now I am an internal consultant tasked with implementing the strategy that I created.”

“Of course, it’s more than that,” Catherine adds, “I’m driving a change process and I’m doing business development now, so I think even though I went in with a very fixed idea of what the internship would be, it still allowed for conversations to happen and relationships to be built that could springboard into other opportunities.”

Do you have to speak Danish?

CBS boasts an internationally diverse group of participants and Andy, MBA Admissions Manager, addresses what can be a consideration for some: “The short answer is no, you don’t need to speak Danish. And the long answer is, it depends on the company.”

As Catherine adds, “When I was hired there was a little bit of an expectation that within 18 months, I would be speaking Danish at least semi-professionally in the office, but I’m not fluent as yet.”

“That said,” Catherine continues, “You have to have a level of patience, humility and awareness that integration is a really strong value here in Denmark and so yes, it’s completely possible to not speak Danish. For example, there’s nothing about me not being fluent that impedes on me being able to do my job, being welcomed or being included in the office culture – however, the longer you choose to stay, the more of an imperative it is that you can communicate in the Danish language.”

When it comes to more specific fields such as the consultancies, as Maria explains, “The corporate language in those companies is English, so speaking Danish is not a factor at all.”

Does the internship have to be directly related to whichever concentration you choose?

In addition to the core modules, participants get the opportunity to pick an elective during the final term and deep dive into a subject that is especially interesting or that will support career aspirations. “This is where you get a chance to personalise the programme,” Andy adds.

And as Maria explains, “The internship doesn’t have to bear exact relation to the concentration you choose at all. It’s designed for you to have the freedom to cherry pick which areas you want to gain more professional development in, but what’s important is that you look at what the concentration should provide in terms of where you’re looking to go career-wise, and then consider how the internship also fits within that. But they don’t need to be aligned in terms of topic, rather it’s just important that the whole picture adds up with respect to where you’re looking to go after you graduate.”

A popular choice

As Maria says, “While the internship is still relatively new (this year will be the third time that students have the option) we see more and more participants take it up each year. In fact, we’re nearing 100% of students taking the internship now per cohort.”

“While it’s still a little early to say,” Maria adds, “It’s increasingly evident that the internship does provide students with the practical experience on their CVs that they can then take with them, which will do wonders when job searching.”

“We undoubtedly see the benefit of it which is why we’re so keen on supporting our students to find the right internships.” Says Maria.

When is the intake for the next MBA cohort?

The next MBA intake will be October 2023. Final deadline is June 2023 for non-EU students and July 2023 for EU students.

If you’re interested in pursuing and MBA and internship programme with us, head over to our information page for more detail.

You can get in touch with Andy [here] if you have further questions.