In my first installment of looking at non-traditional career paths, I provided an overview of three pieces of advice I’ve used while navigating my alternative career path at Booth. This time around, I wanted to expand on those and how Booth has helped me enter into the non-traditional career path I’ve chosen.
Ask for help. When I was looking at MBA programs, I was immediately drawn to Booth because of its choice rich environment. The beauty of the flexible curriculum means that you’re able to take (basically) any class as soon as you step on campus. This means the hardest part is deciding which classes to take and when to take them. Thankfully, you don’t have to navigate through this process alone. You’ll find a supportive community including academic advisors, career coaches, and students across clubs and organizations who are interested in helping you. In order for them to do so though, you have to ask for what you need.
For me, it involved meeting with an academic advisor so I could tailor my schedule to fit my needs. I knew I wanted to bolster my hard and soft skills, so I opted for classes that were heavy in finance and investing, but also took several of the leadership classes that Booth offers. This well-rounded course load has prepared me well for my internship and will only improve as I get another quarter under my belt.
Before applying to Booth, I knew I was planning on joining my family’s business so I was more concerned with finding a fruitful internship (more on that in another post) than a full time offer. I met with a career coach to brainstorm what types of internships might be best suited for my path. Career advising is a bit more of a personal process, so I met with a few advisors before I “clicked” with one. Once we did click, though, my career coach opened the doors on alumni connections, gave me tips on how to think about networking opportunities in my particular field, and connected me with other students interested in a similar path.
The other resource I used to help shape my Booth path was joining the Private and Family Business Group and taking advantage of the Polsky Center. These groups have connected me with the larger entrepreneurial world as well as given me the opportunity to interact with students facing similar situations to my own. All of these resources have proven to be crucial for my alternative career path, but also for a well-rounded educational experience.
Don’t feel the need to conform. As I mentioned in our first post, conformity culture is easy to get sucked into. We’re constantly surrounded by friends going into traditional paths like banking and consulting. While their recruiting process looks long and daunting, at least they have each other, right? I, along with many of my friends have felt this exact same feeling. Wouldn’t it just be easier to join the bandwagon and reap the benefits of a structured process, with lots of other students going through it, and the opportunity to all commiserate together. The downside to that, however, is that you lose sight of why you came to business school in the first place. I came into Booth, very clearly knowing that I wanted to join my family’s business after I graduated. While I don’t know what my future role is specifically going to look like, through my last year and a half of speaking and interacting with the many Booth resources I’ve mentioned, I’ve been able to actively work towards the reasons I came to Booth and why I’m excited by my unique path.
Stay connected with your classmates. This is the topic I have the most enjoyment speaking about. Whether its socially or professionally, leveraging your Booth classmates is the best part of business school. Booth students come from all sorts of backgrounds and have networks that reach around the globe. Whether you’re in the career ideation phase or actively searching for your full-time role, your classmates will prove vital in connecting you with people in their networks. This network not only helps with your future career aspirations, but the connections you make at Booth turn into life-long friendships.
I’ve been able to experience this firsthand through the Private and Family Business Club. The group of students in the club come from different backgrounds with varying levels of involvement within their family business. As I struggle with the transition of moving our family’s business from the first generation to the second, I’ve been able to look to my Family Business Group friends for advice. The diversity in the group lends itself to being an amazing network for me to gain more understanding (and share my experience) on topics such as succession planning, family governance, and how we each deal with issues facing our family businesses.
While I’ve mentioned the many students, who have decided upon a non-traditional career path in my previous posts, I want to reiterate that by choosing a unique path you’re not alone. Please reach out, ask for help and stay connected with your fellow classmates, because choosing this non-traditional path is what led you to Booth. Our supportive community will be right there behind, and beside, you.