A summer business program can provide students with a miniature version of business school, condensed for a short period instead of one, two, or three years. It’s like an MBA in a box. These programs, which range from one week to four months, can occur in-person or online and offer a crash course on what to expect from a full-time MBA program.
Should you sign up for the experience? Before you submit your application, here are a few questions and answers to help you learn more about summer business school programs.
Who are these programs for?
Summer business school programs are targeted at college students and recent college graduates. They provide a collaborative environment for project-based learning so that students can increase their understanding of business and explore careers in management. These programs are often held at top universities with elite business schools, such as the Tuck Business Bridge Program at Dartmouth, the Stern Advantage Program at NYU, and Business Edge at Columbia. The hands-on experience and connections available through these programs assist students who want to stand out to potential employers.
Specifically, non-business majors, underrepresented students, and students who have not been exposed to the business world are often encouraged to participate in these programs. For example, the one-week Harvard Business School Summer Venture in Management welcomes applications from students who are the first in their family to attend college, or who come from communities that are underrepresented in business schools and corporate America. Similarly, the two-week Yale SOM Global Pre-MBA Leadership Program emphasizes exposure to global diversity and learning from students around the world, including those from cultural backgrounds underrepresented in graduate management programs. However, depending on the program, students who simply want broaden their intellectual perspective on business are often eligible to apply.
What areas do these programs cover?
Most summer business school programs cover business basics, including accounting, finance, communications, and marketing, as well as leadership and challenges in management. (You’ll learn a great deal about these topics, but some students might feel they’d benefit from some online tutoring in one or more of them beforehand to better prepare.) Students in these programs often have the opportunity to make presentations for local businesses and to take field trips to their corporate campuses. For instance, in the Accelerator Summer Institute at Vanderbilt, students spend the four-week program immersed in a consulting project for a real company. They take the skills they learn in Vanderbilt classes—like Operations, Strategy, and Economics—and apply them to solutions for the project. These programs can help build your dexterity in the workplace.
Why should I attend a summer business program?
Primarily, a summer business program can enhance your marketability when applying for positions in the corporate world. The networking opportunities with peers, professors, and corporate recruiters, as well as career advice from counselors and alumni, can help you become more competitive in the job market. Additionally, at certain programs, you can use your summer to earn college credit. The Summer Business Institute at Emory carries six academic credit hours, the Summer Management Program at Wake Forest offers eight hours of course credit, and the BASE Summer Program at the Haas School of Business offers up to nine upper-division semester units from UC Berkeley.
A summer business school program is not a substitute for a master’s degree in management, but it can give you a glimpse into MBA life and the many options available to you. It will also provide a better idea of the structure of business. You can add professional skills to your resume, broaden your knowledge of how organizations operate, and boost your career possibilities. With a foundation of business fundamentals, you can use a summer business school program as a springboard to a wider variety of opportunities in the corporate world.
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