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.

Words of Wisdom for Off-Campus Recruiting

By John Brennan, Class of 2017 Career Adviser

By John Brennan, Class of 2017 Career Adviser

As winter quarter kicks off and the consulting and banking offers begin to cascade down on Harper, it’s a good time for those students involved in less traditional recruiting to keep perspective and double down on your searches.

While most who are focused off-campus have enjoyed avoiding the frantic pace of coffee chats and “suited-up” networking activities of the fall, that self-reassuring mantra that “my recruiting happens late” starts to carry less weight when it starts to feel…late.

So here are four simple tips for those who will be on the internship hunt well into spring.

You still have time. With about 23 weeks before heading out for the summer, you have plenty of opportunities to seek out and pursue your first, second, and third tier choices.  There are second-years who recruited well into May and June, and it’s not evident that there is any correlation between getting an internship early and job satisfaction. For example, Tom Brady didn’t get a job until the end of the 2000 draft, and he seems pretty happy. You made a decision at some point that you wanted to recruit off-campus, and you did so with the understanding that there would be more uncertainty in your process.  Don’t freak out about not having a job because you’re actually right on schedule.

Put your foot on the gas. You likely spent much of the fall laying out a strategy, but now is the time to start executing.  If you want to do venture capital in San Francisco, you need to be out there talking to founders and investors; if you want to work for a start-up in Chicago, you should be a regular at 1871 (222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza). Start grinding through that list of contacts you found on LinkedIn, cash in any chits that you’ve been saving, and if you have any obvious gaps, aggressively address them.

...it’s not evident that there’s any correlation between getting an internship early and job satisfaction.

It’s going to be OK. Internship placement was 100% last year; you are very unlikely to be an unwilling exception here.  You may not get your dream job, but there are a ton of ways to gain valuable experience, and the broader your definitions of success and happiness are, the more likely you are to feel good about your result.  It’s just a ten-week internship – this is as good a time to take a chance on something less traditional, so have fun with it!

Ask for help. There are plenty of people on campus who have dealt with the uncertainties and insecurities that are part of this wonderful recruiting process.  Talk to second years who followed a similar path, and use the stories of their successes and failures to optimize on your recruiting strategy.

Being at Booth, you are already in a great position to pursue your dream job, and while the stresses of recruiting are real, keeping that perspective will help maintain sanity throughout the process. If you view this time as an opportunity rather than as an obstacle, you will be just fine come June.

John is always happy to help with career advice--whether you are participating in on-campus or off-campus recruiting.

Making Networking Work for You

By S. Abigail Adams, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By S. Abigail Adams, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

Networking. If the word has begun to induce symptoms of anxiety, you are not alone. While it’s obvious networking is important, it’s not always obvious how to do it right: when and with whom should these interactions take place, and what should they look like?

The key to demystifying networking is to approach it as a tool rather than a task. Consider where you are in the internship search process: what are your current goals, what information do you need to achieve them, and who is best equipped to provide those insights? Grounding the conversations you have through the course of your search in this kind of framework will transform the vague directive to network into organic relationship-building and information gathering.

Right now, you are likely building your resume and considering your recruiting strategy. Your task is to align your interests, experiences, and goals with a directional focus on particular roles and/or industries. You will want to understand, for example, what skills are needed to succeed in a particular kind of role and whether the environment of a given function/industry is consistent with your working style and personal values. Programming during orientation and ongoing deep dives are designed to identify and provide access to the people and resources you need to answer these questions.

Booth students hard at work crossing the “to-dos” off their lists.   Courtesy of Chicago Booth Image Library  .

Booth students hard at work crossing the “to-dos” off their lists. Courtesy of Chicago Booth Image Library.

When companies start coming on campus and you begin pursuing outside opportunities, your focus shifts to developing a target list. And yes, you are supposed to start “networking.” The key here is to avoid the perspective that networking is a goal in itself. Try not to let the “need” to linger for questions after a presentation, to ask a memorable question in a crop circle, or to reach out to an alumni for a coffee chat distract you from the real purpose of these opportunities--which is ultimately to help you decide which particular companies and roles may be right for you. Depending on what you value most in your search, that might be how a role will offer opportunities to develop and work towards your longer term goals or whether the way a company’s employees interact will make you feel engaged and motivated. This isn’t a new process; it’s just gathering company- and role- specific information from those best equipped to provide it.

As interview season approaches, you will want to continue to develop and maintain your network. How many times should you reach out, and to how many people? Again, you can ground these follow-on conversations in the goals at hand in your search process: writing cover letters and preparing for interviews, which require identifying and communicating the qualities and skills that will make you successful in a role. Perspectives from more tenured employees and more personal conversations with existing contacts can help you do just that.

In the midst of the frenzy, try to remember: networking should help you cross the to-dos off your list, not make it longer.

S. Abigail, a second year Career Adviser, is a happy to be lending a hand to first-year students during the recruiting process.

Booth Conducts Groundbreaking On-Campus Recruiting Sexuality and Gender Identity Survey

By John Frame '17

By John Frame '17

The students of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business value inclusivity, not only at school, but also at future workplaces. Earlier this year, Booth demonstrated commitment to inclusivity by conducting the first-ever, MBA-level lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusivity survey with campus-recruiting organizations.

Julie Morton, Associate Dean of Career Services and Employer Relations, requested information regarding employers’ diversity and inclusion policies based on the following five criteria: 1) Equal employment opportunity/non-discrimination policy; 2) Equal employment opportunity policy which includes “sexual orientation”; 3) Equal employment opportunity policy which includes “gender identity” and/or “gender expression”; 4) Equivalent same-sex partner and spousal benefits; 5) Transgender-inclusive health coverage. 45 top companies responded with mixed results.

Originally conceived by alumnus Alan Morales (MBA ‘15), the survey was developed in partnership with Stacey Kole, Deputy Dean for Alumni, Corporate Relations and the Full-time MBA Program and Clinical Professor of Economics, and student leaders Joshua Panuthos (‘16) and Melissa Liu (‘16). The goal was to empower students to make more informed decisions about where they want to work. With nearly half of summer internships secured through on-campus recruiting, employers responded positively.

“Firms’ recruiting teams were pleased we were highlighting this important issue,” explains Morton. “We have long believed that the opportunities available to our students should be commensurate with the skills and experience that they bring to the job, and should not be limited because of any qualifier, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index found that of 781 companies surveyed, nearly all include “sexual orientation” (98%) and “gender identity” (89%) in their anti-discrimination policies. However, many lag behind the progressive line when it comes to policies that include transgender people, with only 53% offering healthcare benefits to those identifying as such. “These results are shocking,” says Antoinette King (‘17), co-chair of the African American MBA Association. “Companies must signal to society that gender identity can’t be swept aside in the greater fight for diversity and inclusion.”

We have long believed that the opportunities available to our students should be commensurate with the skills and experience that they bring to the job, and should not be limited because of any qualifier, including sexual orientation or gender identity.
— Julie Morton, Associate Dean of Career Services and Employer Relations

Liu, a former co-chair of Booth’s LGBT+ organization, OUTreach, adds, “There are currently very few federal protections for the LGBT+ population. Our friends can still be fired or barred from housing for being gay or transgender.” Indeed, despite the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent conclusion that Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964’s “sex discrimination” prohibition clause implicitly includes “all aspects of gender identity”, the federal government remains slow to respond to LGBT+ discrimination.

29 states allow discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and 32 based on gender identity. The recent tide of anti-LGBT+ legislation, evident in states like North Carolina, shows it’s critical for private sector business leaders to stand on the right side of history. We think that over time, companies will realize they face an ever-shrinking talent pool, as they are not only missing out on people who identify as LGBT, but on people who value equality in general,” Panuthos concludes.

While Booth’s employer survey is in no way exhaustive, it is meant to signal to firms to participate in the dialogue and communicate their specific policies with respect to inclusivity, particularly since several firms’ responses were not received. Morton cautions, “The survey went out as firms were gearing up for the heaviest recruiting season...It would be inaccurate to interpret the survey results as an exhaustive list of supportive firms.”

We think that over time, companies will realize they face an ever-shrinking talent pool, as they are not only missing out on people who identify as LGBT, but on people who value equality in general.
— Joshua Panuthos ('16)

Shaming employers for non-participation is not productive, since many face competing deadlines and internal stakeholder pressures that carry real financial consequences. We should encourage employers by presenting students’ positions on such values. “It’s critically important for me to work in an environment that fosters diverse ideas from all individuals,” explains Doug Sexauer (‘17), a straight ally. “Including sexual orientation and gender identity helps promote that environment.”   

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Morton shared the full survey results with the internal Booth community, six months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, legalizing LGBT+ marriage. While a celebratory moment for members of the OUTreach community, it was also a moment for allies to pledge their support. “Incorporating fully inclusive policies is a company’s commitment to having an ethical and diverse work environment,” says Jesse Taylor (‘17), a straight ally who values Booth’s commitment to diversity.

Currently, OUTreach plans to ensure the survey reaches colleagues at other business schools. Incoming OUTreach co-chair, Rachel Chamberlain (‘17), is hopeful for the future. “This is a great start. Our hope is that next year we will have higher employer participation and more schools involved. We want these results to foster dialogue at Booth and beyond about the elements of a firm’s policies and how they not only impact LGBT+ people, but everyone seeking an inclusive working environment.”

As an out and proud gay male of color, John is overjoyed by support from LGBT-identified students and allies in the Booth community.