Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing several blog posts written by the Career Development Center for the Executive MBA Class of 2018. This is the first in the series.
We know it…..You are attending business school to advance your career. And, we hope you know that Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) is dedicated to enabling your career success.
The CDC takes a unique approach by delivering an integrated, relevant slate of career education and resources to meet MBA students’ needs. We offer resources that are personalized and flexible. We also provide active learning and career counsel, including one-on-one career advising, workshops, and recruiting preparation and support to help you prepare for employment opportunities. Together we partner with you to help you make the most of your time and your search at Darden.
Each individual is unique, of course, and there are as many career stories and career pathways as there are graduates of this program, and those stories and pathways frequently change while at Darden. In general, however, our Executive MBA students come to Darden with one or more of the following five career objectives.
- Climbing within one’s current organization.
- Switching to a new company, industry, and/or profession.
- Transitioning from the military into a new role in the private or public sector.
- Pursuing an entrepreneurial track to launch a new business or expand an existing one.
- Enhancing one’s management skills and business acumen to enable one to “stay on top of their game” and provide continued leadership in a changing business environment.
Regardless of your situation or your professional objectives, the Career Center is dedicated to your success and excited about the opportunity to work with you to support and advise you on the strategy and tactics for your career and its transitions.
Here’s what you will need to do / think about:
For those planning a significant transition either during or after their MBA program, you will need to consider the following:
Defining yourself and your career direction
Identifying your gifts, talents, passion, and interests; establishing a professional brand or identity; and articulating a vision and set of goals for your professional direction are the most fundamental components of engineering your transition. They create the star that will enable you to chart your course, and establish the hub around which all of your search activities revolve.
Packaging yourself for the transition
Your job search is a promotional campaign and requires the development of key documents, communications, and an electronic footprint that will ensure your success. Examples include resumes, cover letters, networking emails, LinkedIn profiles, 30-second commercials, reason for leaving statements, and more.
Defining your “go to market” strategy
When deciding to take a product to market, no self-respecting business professional would consider doing so without a comprehensive marketing plan. Yet, when it comes to themselves and their job search, most fail to consider this basic step. It is critical to be thoughtful about your strategy, and approach to any transition you are considering.
Taking yourself to market
There are many doorways to the job market. The traditional portals include job boards, career fairs, and recruiters. On-grounds recruiting may even be an option for a handful of Executive MBA students. For the overwhelming majority, however, you will be challenged to expand your repertoire of search strategies. Most will be looking for more senior level opportunities that will be found through a heavily network-driven search process.
Interviewing for opportunities
If you are like most, you haven’t interviewed for a job in a number of years and your interviewing skills were developed when you were being considered for more junior positions. In addition, you will be conducting extensive networking and informational interviews throughout your search. All of this will require preparation and practice for each particular type of interview.
Negotiating a job offer is not the same as buying a used car. It is important to consider whether to negotiate or not. And, there are guidelines that can help you through this problem-solving process.
Time line for the transition plan
For individuals planning to make a major career move, each will have their own schedule in mind. Some will want to switch during the course of their MBA program. Others will want to time it to coincide with graduation. Still others will have commitments and want to delay it for one or more years after graduation. Regardless of the timing, the rule of thumb is that the more significant the transition, the longer the lead time one should plan for.
The typical transitions that Darden Executive MBA students consider are dynamic and 3-dimensional. Opportunities emerge in unpredictable fashion, but they do so with tremendous reliability if one is flexible and persistent. So, while the transition process does not lend itself to a linear project plan, we generally advise an 18-month planning horizon that includes the above 6 transition components and unfolds in roughly the following fashion.
Defining Yourself 15-18 months out
Packaging Yourself 12-18 months out
Marketing Plan 12-15 months out
Active Job Search 3-12 months out
Apply / Interview 2-9 months out
Negotiating Offers 0-3 months out
How does Darden’s Career Development Center help?
Given the tremendous variety among the Executive MBA students regarding industries, occupational categories, and career interests and needs, there is no “one size fits all” approach to assisting you with the career transition you may be contemplating. Yours will be a very personal, individualized quest, and the Career Development Center will work closely with you to tailor a customized career strategy. To that end, we provide a broad spectrum of resources that will enable you to accomplish your goals including:
Career coaches are available to provide one-on-one advising — ensuring your unique career needs are met and you can focus on making that next step in professional advancement. You can meet with advisors in person or remotely depending on your schedule and preference.
During the first year of school, you will have an opportunity to participate in a Career Kickoff meeting with a career advisor to help you chart your course, learn more about CDC resources, and shape your objectives. You will be encouraged to complete a Career Leader assessment and to investigate other sources of learning about possibilities.
Career Education workshops are offered throughout your time at Darden to provide the foundational skills needed for all candidates in a job search. There is a very broad spectrum of topics include storytelling, resume writing, networking, social media, interviewing, working with recruiters, and much more. These workshops are delivered in the classroom, through webinars, and with recordings that are available 24/7. There are multitudes of written resources and samples on the Darden Admitted Student Website that cover all aspects of career development.
An Engaged Network
Darden is well known for its strong community. With resources on-grounds, and among the Darden alumni and friends of Darden, the structures are in place for you to build a solid network and support group that ensures success in your career advancement.
Setting your expectations is one of four activities that we recommend you complete prior to your first meeting with a Career Advisor. In the next blog post, we’ll describe the next activity: taking CareerLeader.