The search was over. The countless hours I had spent writing cover letters, networking, reframing my story, revising my resume, and carpet-bombing job sites with applications had finally paid off. This June, I’ll be interning in the surgical solutions division of a medical technology company (Covidien) in Boulder, CO.
The Right Mindset
As a career changer with a non-traditional professional background, my two cents to incoming first-year students who may find themselves in the same boat is this: keep an open mind to options you may have never considered, meticulously track your activities and progress, relentlessly revisit your story, and make full use of the resources Tippie provides.
I didn’t come to Tippie with a dream company or even a dream industry, but rather with a core set of interests and personal goals that could be applied and realized in any number of industries.
Some common themes during interviews and coaching sessions: international, emerging markets, technology, science, and business development. I had naturally been attracted to the oil & gas super majors, considering the high-tech bent of that industry and the countries where many of them operate, but it was mainly the big pharmaceutical companies that grabbed my attention at the career fairs.
A spring semester business consulting project related to healthcare deepened my interest in the industry, and before I knew it, most of the companies to which I was applying were medical-related. In an interview that ultimately led to my offer, the mantra that I was accustomed to delivering at interviews came right back at me: international, emerging markets, and so on. The fit and the interest were there, and I did not hesitate to accept.
The Right Tracking
Keeping track of my applications saved me a lot of time and stress. I used an Excel sheet, a section of which appears below, to record applications. I monitored status by color coding each entry. I left pending applications white, grayed out rejections, and colored positions for which I was being considered green. Any time I was able to get feedback on why I didn’t get a job, I added those comments.
|Bain & Company||Summer associate||12/22/2012||website|
|BHP Billiton||general Inquiry||12/20/2012||Chris’s contact|
|3M||SBD internship – Austin||12/20/2012||going global|
|Spectranetics||Mktg MBA intern – surgical solutions||1/5/2013||going global|
|Roche||digital pathology intl bus team intern||1/15/2013||Indeed|
|Covidien||Mktg MBA intern||4/13/2013||going global|
The Right Perspective
My work experience coming into Tippie was anything but concentrated. It straddled several unrelated industries, and my job search reflected this dispersion. Interviewers would often ask me: “So, how does this lead to our company and industry?”
My early answers fell wide of the mark, but regular sessions with my academy director and career services and their affiliates proved helpful in tailoring my resume and story toward each position. It was also helpful to approach the search from the perspective that it ultimately falls upon me to find out what I want to do and beat a path to the right doors, and to view career services as a team of advisors rather than as a group of headhunters tasked with placing me in a job.
All in all, I’m looking forward to being challenged in an industry in which I’ve never before worked, and to applying what I’ve learned this year in a professional setting. My hope is that my experiences this summer will inform and enrich my studies next year.