MBA Career Services – The (Un)Used Service?

It’s amazing how many MBA students underutilize their program’s Career Services office. I mean, you make a huge investment in time, money, and personal sacrifice to pursue this life-changing degree and go through one of the most intense and stressful periods in your life. After going through all of that you definitely want your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, right? But it seems that students forget leadership guru, Stephen Covey’s sage words: “Begin with the end in mind”. Because at the end of the program, don’t you want to be employed in a job that fits your career goals?

This is where starting an early relationship with Career Services from day one at the start of your program is the most important decision you can make in your career. Why? The CS staff, and especially the Director of CS, needs to be on a first name basis with you. You need to be sure you know the deadlines and procedures for enrolling in Workshops as well as upcoming events. You need to make an appointment with a Career Advisor and take all the assessment tests that are available and begin the process of identifying your strengths and career limiting attributes. From there it’s up to you to continue on the path that your Career Advisor has put you on. This will ensure that you begin developing your career interests as you take classes, get to know your classmates and listen to company presentations.

Usage rates for Career Services will surely vary from business school to business school. But in my experience the 80-20 rule always seems to prevail, meaning 80% of Career Services appointments are made by 20% of the students. Of course the 80-20 rule doesn’t apply to career workshops and other one-off events that will attract a large number of students. But there are always a small number of students who maximize Career Services and use this “free” resource to their advantage.

I can’t tell you how many Alumni call me on a daily basis pleading with me to meet with them. Why? Because once you graduate you get very limited access to career services (if any). And most MBA programs have a very small support staff to manage Alumni Career Services and this staff is limited in what they can provide. And even still, alumni will never have access to the job postings and on-campus recruiting reserved for the current students. The most you’ll get as an alumnus is a listing on the alumni job posting site and some online career resources. So your strategy from day one should be to get as much as you can from Career Services while you’re a full-time student!

The relationship building process with Career Services that is so crucial to landing a job is done in the one-on-one coaching sessions. Savvy Career Advisors can help guide you towards your career goals and teach you how to maximize your courses, MBA clubs, networking events, and other program activities to your advantage. Think of a Career Advisor as a personal trainer. Except it’s free!

You don’t pay any extra for Career Services. Imagine if you joined a gym and as part of your 1 or 2 year membership package, you had unlimited access to a Personal Trainer who could give you the proper workout and nutrition plan required to meet your goal. And even better, this person could keep you motivated with advice on proper techniques and habits. If you utilize the gym equipment improperly you don’t get the desired results. Now imagine that the reason you joined the gym was because you had a goal to lose 20 pounds. Wouldn’t you take advantage of the Personal Trainer to ensure you were working properly to achieve that goal? It’s no additional cost! This person has an in-depth knowledge and experience to help you in ways that you can’t imagine.

So what you should you do as you contemplate your future career during your first or final year of the MBA Program? It’s never too late to talk with Career Services! But don’t go in expecting a 2-week plan to get you your dream job. It doesn’t work like that. Nothing in life does. Think of the work tennis great Roger Federer put into perfecting his game. He built his career through dedication and hard work. And so you have to adapt the strategies and work-ethic of the great ones. The earlier you start putting in the necessary work to obtain your career goals, the more likely it will be that you’ll achieve them. If you’re like a lot of MBA students who put off the job search until it’s convenient for them to start searching, then you might not get the results you expect. Either way, talk to your Career Adviser today and commit to doing the work necessary to obtain your career goals – no matter how long it takes!

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