Jeff Leopold is an associate director of Career Education and Advising at Darden’s Career Development Center (CDC) and serves as a career advisor to executive MBA students. You can read more about Jeff’s career and background here.
We took a moment to sit down with Jeff and ask him about his role, and what type of advice he gives to Darden students.
What is the best piece of career search advice you could give to executive MBA students?
J.L.: Use your time in the program to learn and explore as much as you can, so that you can bring fresh insights back to your current job and create valuable connections for the future. Your classmates and professors will have so much to offer, so make sure that you take the time to learn as much as you can from them, explore different industries and careers and think carefully about how you want to advance your career.
What feedback have you received from companies and how can current/prospective students use that?
J.L.: Company representatives often tell us that they wish students had done a bit more research before talking with the company. Students should carefully research the needs, financials and culture of any company they are interested in and use that research to justify their interest. Students should also network with people working at companies of interest to learn more. Focus on conducting a diligent and targeted search, rather than simply contacting any company that slightly interests you.
What CDC resources should executive MBA students know about?
J.L.: I am fortunate to be surrounded by a team of truly talented and experienced career advisors, and I would encourage every student to use our team as an honest and confidential resource for advancing career goals. We also offer Career Education resources tailored to executive MBA students, with seminars focusing on various stages of the career search process. Students can also take advantage of many of the career fairs and interview forums that Darden participates in throughout the year, as well as student clubs and on-Grounds recruiting events in the fall of the program’s second year.
What are some of your favorite job search resources around the web?
J.L.: LinkedIn is an incredible resource that is often underused. Make sure you profile is not just up-to-date, but compelling and indicative of who you are and where you want to go. Then, use LinkedIn to connect with Darden or U.Va. alumni, monitor companies of interest to you, and generally grow your network.
I would also suggest CareeerLeader as an excellent self-assessment tool (available to Darden students at a reduced price) and job forums such as Glassdoor or Vault for company research and background information.
What do you love most about your job?
J.L.: I love helping students discover and achieve their career goals, and along the way, meeting some truly interesting people. Darden attracts talented, accomplished and driven students, and I really enjoy getting to know them.
Can you recommend a favorite Charlottesville spot?
J.L.: I actually commute to Charlottesville from Richmond, VA, much like many executive MBA students (though they often come from much further afield). So, that means that most of my Charlottesville dining experiences are in Darden’s own dining room, Abbott Hall. However, when I do make it out and about in Charlottesville, I enjoy getting a great hamburger at Boylan Heights, near the central Grounds, and catching a U.Va. basketball game at John Paul Jones Arena. The team has gotten very good, and it’s always a packed house.
Any other parting advice?
J.L.: One of the best things about Darden is the tremendous quality of its students, faculty and staff. It’s a first-class program that attracts first-class people, and I would advise students to be open; being around such people can transform their careers and their lives.