Everyone who goes for an MBA is looking to move their career forward in some way. Whether the goal is to advance their career or switch careers completely (as in my case), getting a job is the one of the primary focuses of every MBA student. My job focus was one of the factors that made Wisconsin very appealing to me. When I was exploring different programs, I remember being very impressed with the number of different companies that A.C. Nielsen graduates had gone to work for. What I did not realize until this fall was the number of companies that come to campus looking for students to fill marketing research roles in their organizations. For first years, this job search starts with finding a summer internship.
A necessary part of getting an internship (for better or worse, depending on who you talk to…) is interview season. For Marketing Research students, this time comes during the fall which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, there is the opportunity to have a summer internship in place before the end of first semester. However, it also means being thrown into the deep right at the start. Fortunately the program does a great job getting us ready for this dive in (see Deisha’s post from a few weeks ago). There is also a great support network within the faculty, staff, and other students as you work your way through the on campus interview season.
There is no shying around the fact that the on-campus interview season is a roller coaster of emotions. There is the initial excitement from the opportunities to interact with and interview for positions and some of the best companies in the country (P&G, General Mills, SC Johnson, Walmart, Eli Lilly, Orbitz, and Wrigley). There is some disbelief that they are actually coming to you and selling you on their company. There is the anxiety of prepping for and heading into the interviews. That anxiety is immediately followed by excitement after leaving a strong interview or disappointment of one not going as well as you hope (yes, they both will happen). Then comes the waiting…..
The beauty of an early recruiting season is that you either have an internship lined during the fall or you have another six months to find the right fit for you. The key to thriving (or surviving….) during this time is remembering this is not a competition with your classmates. While only one of you will get each offer, everybody will get an offer. Like Kristin Branch, the center director, always says, “You will all have the opportunity to high five your fellow classmates at some point this year”. In the end, it is not just about getting an offer. It is really a matchmaking game to a place where you are the right fit for the company and the company is the right fit for you.