Thursday, September 24, 2009

Finding Yourself at Business School

One of the biggest challenges for me in counseling prospective MBA students is when I encounter someone without a sense of career direction. I often hear students say, "I'm not exactly sure of what I want to do, but I'll have time to figure that out, right?" No- absolutely not. Business school is not a good place to attempt to "find yourself".

In assessing your candidacy, every admissions committee at every business school will consider your employment potential. Why is that? We want to see you succeed! You're coming to business school to develop as a professional and get the job of your dreams, but business school is a lot shorter than you think. Hiring season also happens a lot faster than you think. Here at Terry, classes start in August and students start interviewing for summer internships in September. Hopefully, before you walk into that first interview you've polished your resume, done several mock interviews, researched the company you're interviewing with, etc. So, you have a about a month to (1) move to Athens, (2) get up to speed in all of your classes, and (3) figure out exactly what type of summer internship you want to pursue and start putting yourself out there. Bottom line: if you're not focused on a career path when you arrive, you're going to struggle. You're going to be one of those frustrated students wondering why everyone but you seems to be finding a great internship. It's a whole lot easier to find one if you know what you're looking for.

So, what can you do now to help youself figure out what you want to be when you grow up? Informational interviewing is a great start. Find people who have jobs you think you'd like to have, and then interview them about what they do and how they got there. How do you find those people? Tell everyone you know that you're looking for someone who works in "X" field to talk to about his/her work. You'd be surprised how helpful people can be. Tweet it out. Put it on your Facebook page. Mention it to your friends the next time you're out. Beyond that, CareerLeader is a great tool: Yes, it's not free- but it's worth it if helps you formulate a life plan! Make an investment in yourself. Join a professional association in your field of interest and network. There are lots of things you can do- just do something.

I know- easier said than done. Good luck!

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