Making the Switch

By Priyanka Prakash, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Priyanka Prakash, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

So, it’s that time of the year again. Congratulations are due to the Class of 2018. Why? Because you braved through January. The incredible cold and the first batch of interviews. You now know the in’s and out’s of the Interview Center, and know exactly where Room 214DD is hidden. For some of you, the process is just beginning, or ongoing. The process can take a while for some. And the process may even require that you reassess strategy and switch lanes.

I’m a strong believer in the fact that recruiting, as stressful as it may be, is actually CEO boot camp. I think of this as “Future-CEO-training.” How many times have we seen CEO’s make decisions where they’ve had to reassess, recall products, or reinvent strategy.

Remember that the MBA internship is probably the last time in the next several years you’ll have complete, unbridled freedom to explore and experiment with unconventional career options. Why do I say this? Because I urge you to explore an avenue that excites you, even if the process takes a little longer. Internships are adrenaline-filled journeys of intense learning. So find one that excites you – whether it’s modeling content amortization schedules, creating a cool new tech product, or working with a social advocacy organization.

So, if you need to reassess your options, or switch to an alternate strategy, here are some ideas that might help:

  1. Prioritize what your industry and functional focus should be. Consider exploring functions that are adjacent to the ones for which you previously recruited. For instance, if you were recruiting for consulting, consider strategy roles at companies that have a robust off-campus process. If you were recruiting for investment banking or management roles, consider corporate finance as an option.

  2. Leverage your background and your network. If you studied biochemistry in undergrad, healthcare companies (many of whom have off-campus processes) would love to hear from you. Reach out to former bosses, mentors, and people that you met at events in the past.

  3. Leverage the Booth network. Invariably, a company that you are interested in will have Boothies there who want to grow the Booth network within their company. Reach out and connect.

  4. Build “just in time” connections now. Several companies have late recruiting schedules, particularly for tech and start-ups. Reach out early.

  5. Talk to second year students. They are always happy and willing to share personal stories, experiences, and will also direct you to others who may be able to help you as you search for the best roles.

I will leave you with one thought: if you are in the process of finding an internship, seek out opportunities with companies that you would love to join. Remember that careers take several different routes to reach the same end goal. Chart your course, and make it your own.

We understand that it’s stressful. And we are here to help. Good luck, and happy February!

Priyanka is always happy to meet with anyone who needs help discovering their next move. Reach out!

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.

I love it when a plan comes together

By Matt Richards, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Matt Richards, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

It took until mid-November this year but fall is finally in the air. Thanksgiving is upon us. For first years, your first quarter is nearly over and Winter Break and all of its ski-trip glory is just around the corner. Almost time to kick your feet up and relax, right? In the words of our President-Elect: “WRONG!”

It may initially seem counterintuitive, but now really is the time to begin putting together your detailed recruiting plan. Corporate conversations have wrapped up and hopefully you’ve found the industry and set of firms that you would like to target. With finals, applications, career treks all looming in the next month, having a well-structured plan is critical to ensuring your success in the recruiting process. Here are some planning suggestions to help you achieve your ideal recruiting outcome:

Solidify your list of target firms. Be sure to prioritize this list into your top choices, your second-tier choices, and your fallback options. Try to target an initial list of at least 10-15 firms in rank order. Yes, that might seem like a lot but it’s always easier to whittle down the list than start too narrow! Keep in mind how many are on-campus vs. off-campus as this will dictate their recruiting schedules.

Map out everything you want to accomplish between now and the beginning of Winter Quarter. Write out the application deadlines for all of your target firms (you could include this info in your above list). How many require cover letters? Make sure you demonstrate you are highly knowledgeable about the firm (and why it’s unique!). Will you need to do case prep over break? Practice valuations? Craft a stock pitch? Make sure you include that into your plan. Are you going on a career trek? Plan on doing some company research. Do you want to have some informal networking calls/chats over the break? Try to schedule those before winter break starts.

Prioritize how you want to allocate your time. This element is critical. How soon are your applications due? Some are due before the break so prioritize your cover letters and applications accordingly. After applications are submitted, will you need more preparation on technical or behavioral questions? What about further company research? This will dictate how much time you allocate to each. Try to be specific with your planning estimates. In addition, overestimate how much time you’ll need and start early. Better to feel over-prepared than cramming come January!

Stick to your plan! While we are all inclined to pull on a cozy sweater, grab a book (who are we kidding? It’s really Netflix), and cozy up by the fire (TV) with our favorite warm beverage, this upcoming break from classes is some of the most valuable time you will have in preparing for interviews. Make it a goal to set aside at least one hour a day preparing for interviews or working on your recruiting efforts.

Building and executing a detailed recruiting plan may not be what you envisioned doing over winter break but it could be one of the most instrumental elements of your recruiting process. Two months from now, offer from your top choice in hand, you may find yourself whipping out a cigar and, in your best Hannibal Smith voice, muttering to yourself, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Matt is a Career Advisor and he is happy to help with recruiting (by appointment).

Your Cover Letter Sets You Apart from the Pack

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Brian Tung, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

Networking like a pro is well underway and it’s time to start thinking about those stories you will be telling in interviews.  One of the best places to start thinking about what sets you apart from the pack is your cover letter.  

Over this autumn quarter, I’ve met so many talented first-years with impressive and unique backgrounds: from submarine officers and Teach for America administrators, to past consultants, bankers, and analysts.  When thinking about cover letters (and interview stories in general), the biggest piece of advice I’ve given to all of them is to embrace your past.  

To those with non-traditional backgrounds worried that a firm won’t be interested because you don’t have business experience, think hard about how your experiences in the past involved analysis and critical thinking (I promise you, they’re there!) and then highlight those attributes while still displaying the wonderful uniqueness of your background.  

For those with traditional business backgrounds who are nervous you won’t be unique enough, embrace the fact that you’ve seen the way businesses face and address their challenges and how you’ve contributed to those strategic decisions.  Everyone in the Booth community has a tremendous background that can be tailored and articulated in a way that is both impressive and practical.  

Here are a few additional tips as you think about your stories:

1. A cover letter is a complement to your resume. This means that you don’t need to rehash everything you’ve ever done in your career. That’s already in your resume! Pick a story or two that you think effectively demonstrates everything you try to convey in your resume (analysis, leadership, critical thinking, teamwork) and try to tell it in a succinct manner.  The SOAR method works well as a framework for cover letters (not just for interviews)!

2. Don’t be generic with your cover letters. It’s incredibly easy to tell when someone wrote a cover letter designed to say “Dear [Firm], I am interested in [role].”  Some of the best parts about being at Booth are the tremendous opportunities that are in front of us career-wise. You should be excited about whichever job you’re applying for, so tell them why! Do your research about the firm, industry, and role, and then articulate why you are the perfect fit for it.

3. Remember that we have tremendous resources at Booth to help you succeed. If you have any questions or are having trouble telling your story, Career Coaches, Career Advisors, and your peers are all here for you.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone you think can help you.

The last word of encouragement I have for anyone worried about telling their story in an effective manner is this: Admissions is very good at what they do, and you’re here for a reason. Keep that in mind and go win that dream job!

Brian is happy to review cover letters in exchange for a frosty beverage (or a simple GTS appointment registration) at any time!

The Tipping Point of Feedback

By Michelle DiMattia, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Michelle DiMattia, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

As a Career Advisor I spend a lot of time helping students sharpen the various tools in their recruiting toolbox: the perfect resume, the attention-grabbing elevator pitch, the compelling cover letter, and the insightful question that cuts through what can feel like recruitment propaganda.

I truly believe that working with someone else can provide tremendous value when preparing for the various aspects of recruiting.  

  1. An outside perspective can see how a point on your resume highlights the success of a project rather than just celebrating the impact you had on that project.

  2. Someone from a different background can help you cut out the jargon you didn’t realize was actually distracting from your elevator pitch.  

  3. Someone who has recently been through the recruiting process can help you focus on highlighting the stories or skills that were top of mind for recruiters.

At Booth, where the pay-it-forward culture is so strong, there is never a shortage of people willing to help and provide guidance!

However, despite the tremendous value that can be gained from external review, there inevitably comes a point when you no longer benefit from seeking out that additional feedback.  There are two main reasons for this.  

First, recruiting is inherently subjective because what is considered valuable or desirable will differ amongst firms.  And this is exactly why seeking out diverse perspectives for input on your recruiting approach is so valuable!  Yet, too many opinions can sometimes lead candidates to dilute or contradict their message in an effort to try to appeal to each person’s definition of “value”.  

Second, in recruiting--as is the case in business generally--the law of diminishing returns applies.  I remember getting to a point last year where I spent hours swapping action verbs on my resume because my mentor told me one thing and Management Consulting Group (MCG) told me another. Or spent hours trying out different ways to emphasize leadership and teamwork in my interview examples because peers gave different advice.  And while it was important to have strong action verbs and punchy interview stories, I definitely hit a point where the effort I was putting in was far greater than the benefit I was getting out.   

...in recruiting—as is the case in business generally—the law of diminishing returns applies.

Again, I am not saying that review and feedback is not important – I think it is critical! But I do believe that it is important to always be conscious of the value you are expecting and the value you are actually gaining. My best advice is to take a minute to think about the value you want to get from each recruiting activity early on.  Whether it is a resume review, a coffee chat or case drills, ask yourself what you hope to gain from each activity. And equally as important, be honest with yourself about when you’ve hit a certain saturation point.  Recognizing that can can allow you to redirect your efforts to another activity where you can truly benefit.

Michelle is ready to complicate recruiting preparation by giving Boothies some of that much-needed career advice. By appointment of course.  

6 Tips for Managing Your Summer Internship

By Nelson Yan, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

By Nelson Yan, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

With a month to go in your first year, you are probably freaking out about your summer internship: Where am I going to live? Why is the rent so damn high? (shout out to my NY and SF peeps!) I have to wake up at 7am every weekday? Yes. Can I stay at Booth forever? No...so you should probably try and get a full-time offer. How do I maximize my chances for a full-time offer? Keep reading. Trust me, I was in the same boat last year. Here are a few pieces of advice as you venture into your summer.

1. Set the tone early before your internship. Reach out to your manager and ask him/her if there are any readings or materials you could preview to hit the ground running the first day. This sends a strong signal and helps you differentiate yourself from the crowd. It is never too early to get to know someone. 

2. Scope out your project and manage expectations. This is arguably the most important thing. Have an early discussion with your manager about what you are supposed to accomplish and be realistic. Set goals that are measurable and challenging, but ones you can achieve. You should also regularly review these goals with your manager to make sure you can hit them.

3. Build your network within the company. Talk to people from different departments and at different levels within the organization to find out how people actually like working at the firm. Figure out if this is a place you enjoy and where you can see yourself working longer term. Remember you are evaluating the firm also. And keep in mind that it is helpful to identify/ have champions that will vouch for you when your manager is asking around for opinions on whether or not to hire you late in the summer. 

Take a deep breath, and impress...

Take a deep breath, and impress...

4. Stay hungry and humble. Be confident and leave your ego at the door. Work hard, learn as much as you can, and be helpful to your fellow interns. Everyone knows you are smart; what they do not know is if you have the character and dedication to succeed.

5. De-risk… De-risk… De-risk… When you do your final presentation with your team, it should not be the first time your manager is seeing the presentation. Take your deck and review it with key influencers within the group beforehand. Think about all the key deliverables you will have and make sure there are no surprises when you are asked to deliver them.

6. Be thankful. Write thank you notes. People will always remember.

I had an awesome summer in San Francisco and got to know a great group of Boothies really well. I am thankful for that. I trust that you will have a successful internship and summer as well. Good luck!

Nelson is secretly plotting to be a surf bum once he moves out to San Francisco! 

The Road Less Taken

By Alyssa Jaffee, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

By Alyssa Jaffee, Class of 2016 Career Advisor

Spring quarter in a Booth student’s second year is a time for most students to kick back, relax, and enjoy their last bits of freedom before Corporate America takes hold. Students find more time for leisure activities than they ever had before, soaking in the beautiful views with sunshine, great friends, and tasty, frosty beverages.

I, however, chose to follow a different path. In my final months of business school, I decided to take on a full-time job. Not just any job, but a job to build a company within the New Venture Challenge (NVC), sponsored by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Chicago Booth.

I was recruited by my friend and CEO of TransparentMBA, Mitch Kirby, who shared with me the incredible vision he had for the business. Hesitant at first to give up my last moments of freedom, I had to weigh my options: Do I spend my last couple of months working hard, or do I head to the beach for the rest of the spring? Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the lure of doing something new and getting the NVC experience everyone spoke so fondly about. So, I came on board.

Class of 2016 TransparentMBA co-founders, Jeremy Selbst, Mitch Kirby, Alyssa Jaffee, and Kevin Marvinac, pose like bosses.

Class of 2016 TransparentMBA co-founders, Jeremy Selbst, Mitch Kirby, Alyssa Jaffee, and Kevin Marvinac, pose like bosses.

At first, I assumed I was just doing it to get a new experience and participate in NVC. However, soon after joining the team, I realized that this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I get to help build a company that I believe in wholeheartedly, and I get to do it with the backing and support of the entire Booth community.

TransparentMBA provides insights into compensation and satisfaction data for the MBA community. With thousands of MBA students on the platform, I have now seen the power of the data and feel lucky that I get to be a part of the team.

So, when you think about all that free time you might have or the abundance of experiences you might forgo, think again. Opportunities that allow you to really get a feel for a new experience are worth it, I promise!  Oh, and don’t worry, I do find time for those beach days too!

Alyssa is a Venture Capital Career Advisor who, as a child, was once in the circus. She has also been to 96 of the top 100 US cities!

 

Spring Job Search: The Best Might Just Come Last

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

Cathy Hsu '16, Career Advisor

From the mountains of Kilimanjaro, to the Dead Sea, Boothies have been all over the world this past spring break! For those who already nailed down full-time positions and summer internships — congratulations!  Make sure you join different groups to explore all the interesting, non-recruiting related events that the Booth community has to offer. For those who are still searching, I’d like to share a few tips with you from my own experience as a spring recruit. 

Narrow your target. 

While you still have a good chunk of time for recruiting, 10 weeks can go by quickly. Therefore, you should have clear preferences for roles and locations so that you can spend your time focused on a short list of ideal firms. While a great tool, resist the urge to rely solely on GTS. Instead, utilize external job boards and company websites to check if full-time/ internship positions recently posted. Don’t worry if your qualifications don’t fit the description entirely. The most important thing for you is to have an understanding about the company, and know why you want to work there and your goals. 

Be specific in email communications.

When proactively approaching your contacts in the company, make sure your email contains the following 3 main points: who you are, what you want, and why an interest in the company. For small start-ups, a unique answer for “why this company” is a must-have. Also, be concise. No one has time to read a lengthy email from an MBA student, so optimize your email for the reader so that they can identify your intentions within the first few sentences. It not only saves them time reading, but also saves you time waiting for a response —they can quickly give you a yes or no response.

No worries.

No worries.

Get peer support.

Find friends who share the same agenda as you. Joining a job search crew is a great idea, but creating your own group can also work. Share information and ideas, hold each other accountable, and practice with your peers to improve your interview skills.

Keep an eye on the Career Services Blog.

Unique opportunities show up on the CS blog all the time. Make sure you subscribe and set up an RSS feed to keep abreast of new and time-sensitive opportunities that may be appealing.

I hope these tips help you during your specialized search. Success is closer than you might think. Enjoy your spring quarter!

 

Cathy Hsu, a second-year Entrepreneurship Career Advisor, bought two nice business suits before Booth thinking she’d wear them every day. She recently realized she probably wore them less than ten times over the past two years. #moneywasted

Don’t Give Up the (Intern)ship

Eric Klein '16, Career Advisor

Eric Klein '16, Career Advisor

On January 8, 2005, the attack submarine USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN-711) was transiting submerged at flank speed from Guam to Brisbane for a much-needed liberty stop. This Saturday morning was unfolding normally by all measures, as the crew cleaned their spaces and prepared for an afternoon drill set. Suddenly, at 11:42am, an earth-shattering crash rocked the ship’s hull, ejecting the crew twenty or more feet from their seats. Recognizing a collision had occurred, the Officer of the Deck ordered the Diving Officer to emergency surface the ship, and although the forward main ballast tanks had ruptured and were leaking air, the diving officer managed to surface the ship using an emergency blow to the aft main ballast tanks. One sailor, Machinist's Mate Second Class Joseph Allen Ashley of Akron, Ohio, tragically lost his life due to injuries from the collision, but the other 114 members of the crew were saved.

Much like USS SAN FRANCISCO struck an uncharted underwater seamount, unplanned events and sheer bad luck can affect even the most prepared. But the Principles of Shipboard Damage Control can help you get back on track in your internship or full-time search, even if you feel like you are floundering.

Know how to use and maintain damage control equipment. Ensure you are using all available job search resources to their fullest extent.

  • GTS Job Postings contain hundreds of new job opportunities, with new ones posted every day. For example, at the time this article went to press, GTS contained 456 full-time and 151 internship job postings.

  • In addition to the public Employment Report, Career Services also publishes an internal Employment Report containing five years of data on where specific students accepted internship and full-time offers. You can access this report through the Career Services webpage on the Booth Intranet. This can help you in identifying companies that may not be on your radar, but ones that have hired from Booth in the past.  

  • Booth has reciprocity agreements with several other top MBA programs, which gives you the ability to view job postings at partner schools, if you are willing to visit in person. You can email crc@lists.ChicagoBooth.edu to arrange an appointment.

  • Career Advisors and Career Coaches offer their time throughout the Spring and can help you refine your search strategy.

Know your way around the ship, even in the dark. Continue to refine your elevator pitch, your “walk me through your resume” story, and your SOAR frameworks. Solicit and apply feedback on these stories from your peers.

Have confidence in your ship’s ability to withstand severe damage. You’ve trained for this moment, and no one else has put in the work that you have. Remember that you are a student at the world’s premier MBA program, Chicago Booth.

Finally, remember the 10th Principle: Keep cool – don’t give up the ship.


Eric recalls passing a placard of these principles countless times on his daily pre-watch inspection.

Career Advisor: A Year in Review

Rahul Prasad '14

Rahul Prasad '14

After preparing for the GMATs, applying to Booth, and spending countless hours coffee chatting and at closed-list dinners, structuring my thoughts, and synthesizing my results in numerous case interviews, I finally received an offer from Bain San Francisco, my top choice. I enjoyed my summer, learned a lot, and made many friends, but despite receiving a full-time offer at the end of the summer, I was conflicted. I loved the folks at Bain and liked consulting but ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for me.

First years are repeatedly advised to have a “Plan B” during recruiting. Rarely do they receive advice about having a Plan B in case they secure their dream internship but eventually decide it’s not the right fit for them. There are two possibilities: first, you enjoy the industry but don’t see a fit with your firm. Second, you don’t see a fit with the industry.

In the first case, your top priority is to ensure that you receive an offer from your summer firm that you can leverage during full-time recruiting. Be judicious about networking with other firms during your internship if there is a possibility that word may reach your host firm. However, be prepared to build contacts and attend networking events with other firms immediately after your summer internship. Consulting and banking full-time recruiting events start as early as late August.

The second case is harder, and it is where I found myself. While you will not receive much pity from your classmates, I do have some advice to hopefully preempt and otherwise manage this state. First, refer back to your Career Services self-evaluations to refresh your understanding of your skills, drivers, and interests. Evaluate the internship in light of this perspective.

Second, consider the possibility of recruiting for a second internship in the late summer. This could provide you with additional experience to help you gain perspective on the type of work that is a great fit for you. LEAD facils do not have this option, but everyone else could consider a second internship instead of traveling. The options may be limited, but some students have been able to obtain a second internship with private equity or venture firms, startups, or non-profits.

Third, as you work through the summer, consider what industry and role may be a better fit for your interests. Focus on what energizes and motivates you. Your task is doubly difficult because you must get the offer, do some very deep soul searching and then pivot into a new industry in the fall. Remember that a full-time offer will help with re-recruiting and negotiating compensation packages, even across industries.

Lastly, network! Reach out to classmates and non-Booth friends in the industry that you think would be a better fit and build your contacts. Referrals from existing employees can dramatically increase your chances of gaining an interview.

My own story ended well. I reached out to my contacts at Google and interviewed for and accepted a product manager role. I am currently deciding on teams and looking forward to a role in which I can create and launch new technology products, my true passion.