The weather’s heating up, kids are out of school, and you’re thinking about how to spend the next three months until you begin business school. Perhaps you’re sweating at your day job, trying to decide when to give notice, or poring over spreadsheets, stressing about how to pay for graduate school in the fall. You might have plans to travel, intern, or volunteer.
The reality is, there’s no wrong way to get ready for business school. However, there are a few things you could consider and prepare before packing up to head to school in the fall.
Finding an Internship
Nearly half of all incoming business school students say they’re considering changing career paths. If you’re switching career tracks before starting your MBA, a pre-MBA internship might be ideal for you.
A pre-MBA internship is typically a four-to-six-week concentrated internship focused in fields like marketing, venture capital, private equity, or consulting.
An internship could mean getting ahead of your classmates in real life experience, but it also comes with a caveat. These internships might offer pay, however some of them don’t offer a salary . If you’re looking to make some extra dough before tuition bills in the fall, it might be smart to sit tight in your current job.
On the other hand, if you want a leg up and some professional experience in a field you haven’t worked in yet, a pre-MBA internship could provide some direction as to where you want to take your business school degree.
Sharpening Your Skills
Maybe you’re taking a few months off traveling, relaxing, or volunteering before starting your MBA. You can expect school to be rigorous in the fall, and with an internship likely next summer, this might be your only downtime for a while. Taking time off just might be the ticket for you.
However, while you’re chilling poolside or lugging a backpack across Europe, you might want to dedicate a little time to resharpening some skills before school starts. You could take some books along to prep for the first year—you can anticipate a lot of reading in the fall .
While you’re at it, you could grab a few math books or consider an online class to brush up on your quantitative skills . Your fall course load is filled with core curriculum, and if you think your math skills are rusty, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start reading those textbooks early.
While you’re reading and relaxing, it wouldn’t hurt to squeeze in some networking. Business school is all about connections, and starting to cultivate a network through professional and personal contacts the summer before starting your MBA might be a great way to get ahead.
Quitting Your Job
You might be spending the summer working and possibly sweating about when to give your notice. You might be planning to work through the summer, but you could let your employer know as soon as you can about your plan for departure. Most career experts agree, giving ample notice about your decision to attend business school in the fall gives you a solid exit strategy.
While you’re letting your employer know you’re campus-bound in the fall, the notice doesn’t have to be the traditional two weeks. Instead, you could work with your manager or boss to create a more leisurely exit plan—perhaps lining up a replacement in the process. Since you quit for an MBA, as opposed to leaving for a competitor, there’s no reason your relationship with your current team should end on a negative note.
Banking a couple paychecks could potentially help with grad school expenses, but you might want to allow yourself time to prepare for school in the fall as well. Consider your timeline for relocation, preparation, and maybe a little time to unwind.
Considering the Essentials
No matter what you end up doing the summer before business school, you might want to take time to address how you will pay for your MBA.
Business MBAs can be some of the most expensive programs out there—the average business school student in America graduates with around $70,000 in debt.
Summer could be an opportunity to make some money for savings before starting school, but it’s also a time to review your payment plan. Will you go for federal loans, apply for grants, or take out private student loans?
On top of moving, orientation, and beginning your studies, you may want to take time before the semester starts to familiarize yourself with graduate school loans. While you’ve been through it before during undergrad, taking out loans for graduate school might be a totally different animal in terms of, for example, what financial aid you qualify for and how much you have to take out.
Don’t Take a Break on Your Finances During Summer Break
The summer before business school can be a time of relaxation, learning, preparation, or working—there’s no wrong way to spend it. No matter what you do, you might want to take time to consider and understand how you’re paying for your MBA.
That might mean research on refinancing your undergraduate student loans once you’re done with graduate school. Once you finish b-school and secure a great job, refinancing your grad school loans could be a way to potentially get you a lower interest rate or more favorable loan terms.
Keep in mind that refinancing your federal student loans means losing out on federal loan benefits, like income-driven repayment plans and deferment. So, for example, if you have federal loans from undergrad, and are hoping to defer them while getting your MBA, now might not be the right time to refinance.
However, you may consider refinancing those undergrad loans with your graduate school loans once you finish business school. (That way you’ll only have to worry about paying one loan off, instead of multiple.)
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