When you first arrive on campus as an MBA student, it can be easy to push recruiting to the back burner. After all, you have a lot going on – classes are starting up, you are meeting new people, and there are so many clubs and activities to join in.
Do you really need to be thinking about MBA recruiting on top of all of that?
As hard as it is to juggle priorities, it is important to begin your recruiting efforts early and maintain them consistently throughout the semester.
The key to doing this successfully – while balancing all of your other priorities – is advance preparation.
Begin preparing for MBA recruiting even before you arrive on campus for your first year of an MBA program.
This blog post will discuss five ways you can get a head start on your MBA job search now, as part of your pre-MBA preparation process.
While it might seem arduous to begin these tasks now, you will be so thankful that you did when the fall recruiting process rolls around.
Set Aside Time for Self-Assessment
Far too many MBA candidates enter business school without really thinking about what they want to do with the degree. They think that it is the right path for them, or that it is a necessary step to prosperity and success in their career.
But, when you really talk to them, they cannot articulate exactly why they want the degree or how they will use it. These students are often the ones who remain unfocused in recruiting, and, as a result, lose out on some great job opportunities.
Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Think carefully about:
– Why you want an MBA
– What skills you have and what skills you lack
– How your personality impacts and drives your work
– Which business cultures and learning environments best suit you
– Which industries and functions best suit you
– How you will use an MBA in the short and long term
CareerLeader is an excellent self-assessment tool that helps you to answer these questions in a structured and productive manner. Many business schools offer accepted students a discount on the service, so make sure to check with your program’s career services department.
Develop a Career Objective
Before matriculating in an MBA program, you should have a career objective in mind. A good career objective will:
– Identify industries and functions that you want to focus on
– Identify transferrable skills that will help you in those industries and functions
– Include a big picture summary of your short and long-term career plan
This objective can certainly change as you delve into the MBA program. Business school is intended as a time of exploration, and you might discover new interests in functions or industries that you know little about right now.
The key, however, is to take an approach of focused exploration. You will spread yourself far too thin if you try to explore every single option available to you. There are simply far too many.
Instead, if you are not sure of your future career path, use self-assessments tools to selectively identify a few target industries, and focus your energies on exploring those in depth.
Start Exploring Target Companies
As you focus on target industries and functions, you should also be thinking about target companies. Many companies will begin coming to campus shortly after classes begin, and you will need to know which events you want to attend and which you do not need to worry about it.
As you think about target companies, you should consider the following:
– Which companies are the power players in industries that you are focusing on?
– Which companies are the oldest and most established in the industry?
– Which companies are up-and-coming? What innovations are they bringing?
– Which office locations appeal to you most?
– Which office locations appeal to you least?
– Which companies have international offices?
– Are you more interested in larger companies or smaller firms?
– How are larger firms in the industry structured?
– How are smaller competitors structured?
– What kind of work culture appeals to you?
– Do you like more structure, or a more relaxed environment?
– Are you willing to travel often?
– What kind of people do you work best with?
– What management structures do you thrive in?
Use these questions to make a list of target companies that you can continue winnowing down throughout the MBA recruiting process.
Visit our MBA Resources page to get information on Career Websites you can visit to learn more about your list of target companies.
Recruiting timelines at MBA programs are moving earlier in the year, and because of that, students need to begin networking earlier.
During the summer before your MBA program begins, begin identifying contacts within target companies and reaching out for informational interviews, if you feel comfortable.
To find contacts within your target companies, consider the following sources:
Use your program’s alumni database to find alumni working in your target companies or industries. Alumni are typically very willing to help, as they have once been in your position.
Do you have family or friends working in areas that you are interested in? Do your current colleagues know of any contacts?
LinkedIn is a great resource for finding key players at particular companies and reaching out to them.
Once you have identified contacts, reach out with a short email explaining who you are and why you are interested in talking to them. Close by asking if they have time for a brief informational interview, either over the phone or in person.
During the information interview, you should focus on:
– Learning more about the challenges facing the industry and company
– Learning more about the structure of the company and potential MBA roles
– Learning which skill sets are most beneficial in the roles that you might be interested in
– Learning what they think of the industry and company, and how your profile might fit
Review the MBA Recruiting Timeline
You should familiarize yourself with the type of recruiting events that your MBA program runs and the timeline of these events. As you enter the semester, you will need to know what is immediately on the horizon, and what is coming later on the semester.
A typical MBA recruiting timeline looks something like this:
Company briefings and workshops, on-campus networking events and career education
More company networking events, both open and closed. Closed events can only be attended at the invitation of the company.
Students begin dropping resumes for internship opportunities at firms that interview on-campus. Resumes are considered and interview invitations begin to be extended.
Interview invitations are extended and on-campus interviews begin.
On-campus interviews finish up. Second round interviews continue to be conducted off-campus.
Students who did not recruit on-campus continue recruiting for internships in the spring.
Note that some industries, such as consulting and investment banking, typically recruit on-campus early in the MBA recruiting season, while other industries, such as marketing and technology, often recruit a bit later and may not come on-campus to interview.
your recruiting timeline will differ from other students based on your interests, so don’t worry if some of your classmates land internship offers before you do.
You should also familiarize yourself with the career resources that your program offers. Research advising resources and protocols, as well as particular events and conferences hosted throughout the year.
These five strategies should give you an excellent head start on MBA recruiting and help you to build a strong foundation for the fall semester.
Completing this prep work over the summer will reduce your workload in the fall and help you to be more focused and more productive in your recruiting efforts.
This will greatly improve the ROI of the recruitment process, and will give you a better chance of landing an MBA internship offer that fits well with your goals. In turn, that will set you up well for recruiting for full-time positions during your second year.
In short, if you begin these tasks now, you will be doing yourself a huge favor. Don’t pass up the opportunity.