Getting Started

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We’ve seen that the most successful candidates are the ones that start their job search the earliest (hyperlink to survey results?), so the MBA recruiting timeline begins now. You can break the process down into these main areas:

  1. Understand yourself and your value: what are your strengths, interests, and motivators? How do you stand out from the crowd?
  2. Understand the marketplace so you can find your fit: What roles are out there? What are they looking for?
  3. Make others understand your goals: How do you communicate your value to the marketplace in a compelling way to get the interview? How does networking play into that?
  4. Prepare for the interview: Whether it’s case, behavioral, or technical interviewing, you have to be ready!

How do you begin to prepare now? Before you matriculate at your b-school you can get a general sense of industries, functions, and roles that are available to MBAs. Start early with industry research. Everyone knows that consulting and finance are two popular paths for recently-minted MBAs to pursue, but what about marketing, technology, entrepreneurship, or rotational programs? Your school likely has some resources available for you to peruse before you start classes. The Vault guide and Wet Feet are good starting points, as are company websites and LinkedIn pages. Of course, Relish has Industry and Role overviews that can help you clarify your thinking as you dive into Company Pages, too.

Talk to alumni you might already know, friends, relatives, and coworkers who have gotten their MBA or who are in industries you might be interested in. As you do, reflect on what’s important to you. Is it money? Work-life balance? Geographical location? As you’re exploring, you’ll begin to get a sense of what sets different companies and jobs apart, which will help you focus your search once you’re on campus in the fall.

In addition to learning about industries and functions that are out there, you should also take some time to learn about yourself. You might be thinking to yourself, “of course I know all of that!”, but putting in the effort to understand your goals, likes, and dislikes will help you find the best fit for your future job. Meyers-Briggs and CareerLeader are two popular self-assessments that can clarify your thinking around job fit. Your school might ask you to take those or another self-assessment test before starting, and there are others out there, too.

While you might not learn anything you didn’t already know about yourself (if you’re a raging extrovert, it’s probably obvious to you and everyone around you), assessment tools can give you the vocabulary to talk about yourself in concrete ways that others can understand, which is important as you’re networking and exploring job opportunities. You’re competing for jobs not just with your talented and ambitious classmates, but all the other talented and ambitious MBA students out there, so active self-reflection helps you to stand out from the crowd in a good way.

As you’re doing all of this exploration, both of yourself and the companies out there, think about where there is alignment in working styles. That can take a few different forms. For instance, CareerLeader has an algorithm to match you with career paths. If you have strong attention to detail, Meyers-Briggs might highlight that and help you think about roles where precision is important. Your industry and company research along with your self-reflection serves as the base of the rest of your job search.

Next: Building a Target List>>