Evening and Weekend Students are here at Booth for a variety of reasons. Some of us are striving for that next promotion and some of us are seeking personal growth or validation. Some of us are looking to start our own companies or just looking to impress the in-laws. However, a large portion of us are here to make a career or industry change before our time at Gleacher is up.
As someone who has helped hundreds through career changes, I’ve offered up various pieces of advice to a few of my peers these past two quarters. I wanted to use this article as an opportunity to share a few of these tips with those of you contemplating a switch.
Tip #1: Use the Booth curriculum to discover new passions
Many of us know that we want to make a professional change, but are unsure what that change might be. It’s difficult enough to decide what we want to wear to the office tomorrow, let alone what we want to be doing for the rest of our working lives. However, a great place to start is by discovering passions we might not know we had by taking classes outside of our areas of expertise. Unless you’re trying to graduate with five different concentrations or take every Analytic Finance class Booth offers, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try something new.
Tip #2: Make the most of Career Services
Contrary to popular belief, the Career Services team isn’t just here to send weekly emails and nitpick resumes. Through the Booth Intranet, you can discover the wealth of knowledge that Career Services has provided to answer a majority of the questions you may have on changing careers. From advice on “Telling Your Story” on LinkedIn to tips for sourcing opportunities, any jobseeker can take away something from this section. In addition, Career Services has an extremely well-connected Employer Relations team that can give us the inside track with companies. I’ve heard several stories of students visiting Career Services with only a general idea and leaving with introductions to their “dream jobs”.
Tip #3: Connect with Booth Alumni
It is difficult for some of us to muster the courage to send an email to someone we don’t know asking them to make time to chat, but increasingly, I have come to realize that Booth alumni are open to helping current students when they can. Maybe Tom Ricketts won’t get back to your inquiry about a front office position with the Cubs right away, but the Chicago Booth connection is a bond that resonates strongly with most alumni. Use our alums as a resource to learn more about their company, their industry, or to just get their advice.
Tip #4: Utilize your Classmates
We often fail to realize that our best asset in our job search may very well be the person next to us in the classroom. Given the diversity of work and industry experience in the Evening and Weekend population, don’t be shy to ask your classmates about their jobs and the companies they work for. Often, they are the potential resource that may give you the most balanced perspective, and one that may personally vouch for you to his or her company.
If you’re set on changing careers, or just reevaluating your options, it is important that you make the most of the unique tools at your disposal to get the upper hand in a highly competitive environment.
Editor Mike Sharifi is an Evening MBA Student and Director of Business Development at Built in Los Angeles. His hobbies include running, volleyball, and exploring local restaurants.