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!

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).

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.