Stay focused on your chosen career path

By Madeline King, Class of 2017 Career Adviser 

By Madeline King, Class of 2017 Career Adviser 

January and February can be challenging times if you’re doing a specialized search that involves mainly off-campus recruiting. The pull of the “herd mentality” is stronger than ever as people file in and out of Harper in suits, chatting eagerly about their on-campus interviews and offers. However, if that’s not your chosen path, don’t get distracted! Instead, focus on what you can do to put your own best foot forward, even if it looks quite different from many of your peers.

As someone who is running their own specialized search, I can vouch for the start of the New Year as an incredibly valuable time to make substantial strides in networking and job applications for a wide range of opportunities, whether it’s in social impact, venture capital, or entrepreneurship. Here are a few tangible action items to pursue:

  1. Keep up the networking! For many people doing specialized searches, such interactions can create leads for both summer and full-time roles. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so leverage the flexibility you have now in your schedule to build relationships that will pay dividends for years to come. If you met with people earlier in the school year, now is the time to touch base with them via an update email or phone chat.  

  2. Spend more time off-campus in winter and spring quarters than you did during the fall quarter to ensure that you are getting valuable facetime with the opportunities you want to pursue. Consider arranging your academic and extracurricular schedule to accommodate those coffee chats you’ve been wanting to have or self-guided treks you’ve been wanting to make. Remember that you have to go find things—they are probably not going to come to you!

  3. Take a lab class or access other experiential learning opportunities--great ways to start building real work experience in a new space. You can source these through a combination of the Booth curriculum, clubs, competitions, and the alumni network, as well as the various incubators and affiliation groups located throughout Chicago.

  4. Remember that on-campus resources are still valuable. Continue to monitor on-campus events and GTS for opportunities that may be a good fit for you. Pro tip: set up alerts using the “Advanced Search” function so that you don’t have to check GTS manually.

  5. Iterate on your target list as you get new information and make connections. A place that you really liked in October may no longer be viable by January, and that’s fine. At any given point in time, try to have 5-10 places you’re pursuing, in terms of networking, learning about their work, and so on.

The Booth community can offer a tremendous amount of support for non-herd activities, especially if you’re courageous and speak up about what you’re looking for. Best of luck staying strong and focused on your chosen career path, and know that we are cheering for you and always available to help!

Madeline is always available (by appointment) to chat with students about their career paths.