Prospective and admitted students often ask the MBA career management team what they can do before they start the program to get ahead in the internship search. With eight years in the MBA program office and three years with career management for reference, I’ve seen a lot of students go through the process. My top five pearls of wisdom for your consideration:
1. GET REAL - We know you wrote a Pulitzer prize-winning treatise to get into the Texas MBA program, told a convincing story and laid out a brilliant career plan. Now that you’re in, it will be up to you to make it happen. So, if your plan was more of a creative writing exercise than a confident recap of your long-term goals, it’s time to get real. Be honest with yourself. What are you good at? What do you like doing? What motivates you? What work environment allows you to thrive? Recruiters don’t get to see your admissions essays, we promise.
2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK - To be effective in your internship search you need to be a good storyteller – articulate, accurate and personable. This seems simple enough since the story you’ll be telling is all about you. It’s not. Do your homework. Go back through your work history and make note of not only job responsibilities, but also your transferable skills, your strengths and weaknesses in each position, the positive and negative incidences where you had a major impact or learned something that you carried with you in subsequent positions and actions you undertook that achieved noteworthy results. These elements will become the basis for the personal brand you promote to potential employers.
3. READ - If you’re not already in the habit of scanning business news daily and following business leaders and companies that interest you, start now. Create a new habit. It will serve you well in your classes as well as your job search. If you’re new to the business world altogether or are planning to switch industries or functions, you have a whole new vocabulary to develop. Start with Vault Guides and hone in from there letting your interests and goals guide you.
4. TALK TO PEOPLE - Let your friends, your family, your co-workers and your sister’s best friend’s uncle know you’re going back to school and why. Tell them about your plans and your aspirations. Ask them about their work and their career paths. The more people who know your story, the bigger your network. People hire people they know and like. Let people get to know you. We’re confident they’ll like you or our friends in admissions wouldn’t have admitted you!
5. MARK YOUR CALENDARS - Our apologies to those of you who like to fly by the seat of your pants, but you’re about to encounter a whole new level of busy. Whatever system works for you is fine, but start laying out your plans now. You’ll have to prioritize and, sometimes, make tough decisions because there will be more opportunities to do cool, fun, interesting and advantageous things than you can possibly fit into 24 hours. If you take care of items 1-4 above, those choices will be much easier!
EXTRA CREDIT: FIND YOUR ZEN - The MBA job search is like no other job search you’ve experienced before or likely ever will again. Take a deep breath now and remember to keep breathing. It’s an adventure – sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frustrating, sometimes panic-inducing. Find your Zen; it will serve you well. Cultivate your curiosity, a positive attitude and an open mind.