Message: Last year, I entered the MBA program because I knew I wanted to change my career path, but I was more than a little confused about how go about it. In the first week on campus during IMPACT, we spent a lot of time learning about different career paths and academies within the MBA program. After being bombarded with information, I remember feeling quite overwhelmed. After meeting with the marketing academy director, I learned more about different career paths in marketing and realized there were opportunities in marketing that I was very interested in. I spoke with my second year coach, Kelly, who was a career-changer and had successfully navigated the internship search process the year before. She was a huge help to me in figuring out the best way to relate my past experiences to the marketing roles I was interviewing for. She also helped me figure out which companies might have the types of roles I was looking for. Kelly recommended I keep a spreadsheet to keep track of my job search, which helped hold me accountable and on track.
When I was asked to be a second year coach myself, I realized I had something to offer in terms of job searching and interviewing. It’s been a learning experience, but I’ve gathered some of the more helpful tips from the 2nd-year coaching team here.
1. Have several people review your resume.
The more eyes, the better. Not everyone will agree on everything, but this will help ensure your resume is completely rid of typos and grammatical errors. Gather the best advice and make the changes you see fit. This is the time you need to be detail-oriented! If it’s not your strong suit, get 10 friends to help you.
2. Draft an awesome cover letter to use as a template.
I asked the MBA writing consultant, Amy Kolen, to review mine and she made some great changes that improved its readability and format. Whenever I applied to jobs, I made tweaks to my basic cover letter that applied to each position. This made it super easy to crank out job applications when necessary!
3. Figure out what it is you want to do.
This is probably pretty important, right? Nobody quits their job to attend a full-time MBA program only to wind up in a job they don’t like. Talk to the academy directors, alumni, fellow students – especially 2nd-year students, and people in the industries and companies you’re thinking about. Really think about what it is you are great at, how you can develop your skills in the functional areas you are interested in, and then learn more about the roles you think you want.
Once you find your top roles and companies, spend the time to apply to them. Take it seriously and do it as soon as possible so you don’t miss any opportunities!
It’s really important to treat your job search process as a project – be your own project manager and set deadlines. Then make sure you hold yourself accountable to them!
Set weekly goals for job applications. Once you’ve applied to all of your top choices, keep an eye out for any other jobs you may be interested in on a weekly basis, and set a goal of applying to 5-10 jobs. Set up alerts for companies you’re interested in that haven’t posted internships yet. If you haven’t done this yet, winter break is a great time to start!
5. Realize that the difference between an A and a B in a class is MUCH less important than finding the right job fit for you.
Focus on learning, not grades. Classes are very important, but in grad school your grades are going to take care of themselves as long as you put in the effort. There are diminishing returns to putting in a lot of extra hours of work into classes; on the other hand, there are HUGE returns to putting in 2-3 more hours per week on your job search!
6. Network with your classmates!
One of the greatest things about the full-time MBA program is the close network of students and alumni you’ll have when you leave. There is such a great group of people here with a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities. Many of the people here were major contributors into helping me find the right job fit, as well as being successful in classes, projects, and events. Take full advantage of this, and get to know as many people as possible! Plus, you never know when the network may help you one day.
7. Have some fun already!
Don’t let yourself stress out too much. If you feel yourself getting too overwhelmed, too worried about a test, or too anxious about an interview, do whatever it is you need to do to de-stress. Overworking yourself won’t help – take a break and come back to it later. Take the Dani approach and pencil in some TGIT – or whatever it is you need - into your schedule.