Do you know what do you want to do after business school? You have to put something down on your application essays, I understand that…but do you really know which career path you would like to pursue starting day one of your MBA program? I think the answer from most of us is “no”.
One of the questions I often get in coffee chats with prospective students is the classic “why Booth?” Then, when I talk about the strong support for recruiting, especially for a career switcher like myself, a follow-up questions is usually “What are the resources available to help you figure out your ideal path?” So here they are, the resources I leveraged as a first year, before recruiting season even started.
The soul searching started when you were writing your application essays, but the practical hunt doesn’t have to wait until you get to Booth. In fact, over the summer, Booth Career Services offers useful resources and “homework” to help narrow down the list. Some of the most helpful ones for me were the following:
- Most common post MBA jobs – This is a summary of the 14 most common post-MBA career options with the skills, attributes, expertise, and interests highlighted for each option. It not only helped me to get a high level understanding of the many options available, but also to narrow down my choices based on my interests and skillsets.
- Careerleader self-assessment – What you *think* is the best for you isn’t always the case. This online assessment will suggest the top five recommendations for you after analyzing your skillsets, aspirations, personality, etc. and it offered a great second check to confirm my intuition.
- TransparentCareer – This is a great website (developed by Boothies!) sharing compensation information for various MBA jobs of different companies. Let’s face it, many of us have to repay our student loans, and it’s good to have an understanding of the compensation levels for each career path. The last thing you want is to spend so much time and effort to receive your dream offer, only to find out it does not meet your compensation expectations.
Out of all the activities Booth offers during orientation week, I found two events particularly helpful for me in narrowing down my recruiting strategy.
- Industry Immersion – This is a panel style discussion with representatives from a range of companies and all the different post-MBA functions. Panelists (most of them are alumni) would answer questions about “a day in the life” of their industry/function, the key skills required to be successful, and hiring trends. In my year, the event was organized by function, and I got to pick the top three functions I was interested in to hear insights from the panelists.
- Booth 20/20 – Alumni will share their experiences, insight, and wisdom, from the perspective of someone who once sat in your seat. This is so much more than just a career-focused event though, it’s a great chance for you to ask questions about managing professional life and personal life, and how did these considerations impact the alumni’s career choices.
Peer to Peer Interactions
Pay it forward is a concept that you have heard over and over, I am sure. At Booth, one of the most powerful and valuable resources is the student body. Student groups, led by second year students, provide enormous support for recruiting. Those relationships come to life in a few different ways:
- Recruiting 101 events – Most of the professional student groups will host recruiting 101 events in late September to answer questions from the first years and share their interview and internship experience within different functions. One bit of the advice I got from an alum was to not only pay attention to the information at these events, but also my peers at these events. If you find yourself “clicking” with certain groups, it’s probably a good indicator that it’s the right career choice for you because the people you get along with are also choosing the same career path!
- Second year students – Boothies love to share their perspectives, insights, and wisdom with you! If you are contemplating certain functions or companies, talk to as many second years as you could and gather the information you need. This is also a great sanity check when you are wondering if a path is this the right choice for you.
- Slack channels – Many students share events and opportunities in the respective Slack groups. These serve as a great supplement of the official student group information!
The official Chicago Booth Career Services offers support and consultation throughout and after your time at Booth. In addition to the internal information available on the school Intranet, group events, and school organized networking events, students will also get all the additional coaching they need. I was sure to take advantage of:
- One-on-one appointments with coaches – Starting during the summer prior to your MBA, students are able to arrange one-on-one appointments with the Career Services coaches. Topics include, but are not limited to: initial consultation to narrow down recruiting options, resumes, cover letters, target company list, interview prep, offer negotiation, and anything else you need help with!
- Career Advisors – These are second year students who just went through recruiting so they can offer the most practical and genuine advice. Career Advisors are grouped by function and industry, and first years can schedule one-on-one with them.
Pursuing an MBA is definitely a big decision, especially for those who are career switchers. Having the guidance and help I need every step along the way is extremely assuring; these resources, on top of the powerful alumni network and strong relationship with employers, are what I consider some of the most valuable offerings of the Booth MBA program.