As second-year Bolz students, we have two official year-long projects – a capstone consulting project and one in our Non-profit Board Leadership class. Additionally, we have an unofficial project – one that doesn’t have a grade or a professor but takes just as much hard work and diligence – finding a job. While many of us just started applying to jobs in the last few weeks, we’ve been expanding our networks, conducting informational interviews and developing our application materials for months using a variety of resources available from the Bolz Center and MBA Program Office.
Informational interviews: One of the most valuable resources we have access to is our Bolz Center alumni. They are located across the country, working in diverse positions and industries and are always happy to provide an introduction. I have found informational interviews instrumental in guiding my job search this year. They gave me the opportunity to not only learn about different organizations and their culture but also the chance to discuss my MBA experience and articulate my career goals. They are also a great way to hear about other trends happening in the industry.
Resumes & Cover Letters: In our fall semester Negotiations class, we learned how important proper preparation is before beginning a negotiation. The same rule applies here. By reviewing a company’s website, their 990 and annual reports, I gain valuable insight into the company’s current strategy and initiatives and then can integrate that into the cover letter. Developing these foundational materials has additional challenges, including that there is not one format or way to write them. Because there are different schools of thought, I have found it helpful to get as many people as possible to read different resumes and cover letters, from the program career advisor to my mentors and peer Bolz students.
Interviews: Recently, the Bolz Center advisory board was in town and along with leading a panel focused on jobs, they conducted mock interviews. These gave the second-year students the chance to practice for actual jobs we applied for and to experience different interview styles with the different pairs of board members. The Thursday before, Ann Mukherjee, Global Chief Marketing Officer from SC Johnson, spoke as part of the program’s Weikel Series. She made the point that everyone should develop a Point of View and express it both in their professional as well as personal lives. I think this directive also applies well to interviews. Interviewing with a POV on either industry trends or the company’s initiatives demonstrates that you are not only a thoughtful problem solver but also that you will able to jump in and contribute immediately.
Evaluating offers: Eventually, all five of us will be evaluating job offers and our advisory board panel offered one framework that resounded with all of us. One board member referenced back to her job search after graduation and how she created three buckets – position, company and pay – and a job had to fill at least two out of the three. This helps fight either the urge to find the “perfect” fit or, alternatively, take any job offer.
The job hunt - it seems rather simple in principle but actually turns out to be an interconnected web of advice, support and experience gathered from colleagues and classes, culminating in the next, exciting step into our careers as MBA graduates and leaders.