Getting internships: Securing one or more internships has substantial benefits. "Our MBA interns gain meaningful consulting experience by working on a client-facing project alongside Accenture leadership," says John Campagnino, managing director of global talent acquisition at Accenture. "The MBA intern program is typically for eight to 10 weeks and covers both developmental training and networking opportunities in addition to critical project experience."
According to Jeffrey Stoltzfus, an associate director of employer relations for the University of Maryland's Robert H. School of Business, elite companies look for the cream of the summer-intern crop starting each November.
3. Financial adviser: You don't need an MBA to enter this field, but having one could ease the transition to management, plus assist in securing more clients and building trust with your existing base. Booth has a good program, as does Columbia University.
Turning the internship into an offer: Treat an internship as a learning experience and an extended interview. "The employer knows by the end of the internship whether the student is a fit or not," Dalton says.
"Accenture's internship experience helps students identify skills they excel at, want to learn more of and that will make them successful in their careers," Campagnino says. "In addition, interns learn to communicate effectively with many groups of people, work effectively with teams and identify their leadership potential."
[Check out 10 b-schools that lead to jobs.]
2. Financial manager: Strong financial managers have fine-tuned communication skills, and a talent for making complex, sometimes unpopular choices about operations. New York University's Stern School of Business and the University of California—Berkeley's Haas School of Business are some of the best programs for this track.
Developing skills: School representatives say programs enhance technical skills while ripening interpersonal ones. "We spend a lot of time on soft skills," Stoltzfus says. "We have mock interviews to practice those skills; we have comedy improv training to help students improve their poise and think on their feet; we have story-telling workshops so students can find the ability to tell stories in a way that engages a listener."
1. IT manager: This occupation intersects leadership and analytical skills with technical experience. Top programs include Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business and Maryland's Smith School.