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).

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.  

Highlight transferable skills to switch careers with ease

By Amy Berg, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

By Amy Berg, Class of 2017 Career Advisor

It goes without saying that people use business school as a means to switch careers. Lawyers moving into marketing. Consultants pursuing banking. Engineers seeking PM roles at tech firms. Engineers transitioning into operations roles. Engineers switching to corporate strategy. Okay, those last three are just transitions I pursued last year.

I spent my pre-MBA career as a design engineer at John Deere. I entered business school with deep knowledge of farming, heavy manufacturing, how to work with unions, and how to remove green paint from clothing. How was I supposed to convince a recruiter at a tech company that he or she should spend any time considering me for a job?

I had to spend some time re-framing my previous work experience in order to highlight the transferable skills I had gained and why they made me a serious candidate for whichever role I was considering. When discussing PM roles with recruiters, I talked about my general passion for product development and how the time I spent in the field helped me develop empathy for the customer. For operations roles, I highlighted my experience on the factory floor, working cross-functionally on issues regarding efficiency and manufacturability. Regarding procurement roles, I emphasized that I had often worked with suppliers, negotiating engineering specs and completing projects to decrease cost. The point is, I pinpointed the general experiences that were useful for a variety of roles and I made sure I catered my message to each company.

Think about skills you possess that can take you to the next level, whatever the job.

Think about skills you possess that can take you to the next level, whatever the job.

This exercise of making a list of jobs that interest you and what skills you already have that translate to those roles does a couple of things. First, you start to convince yourself that you are a strong candidate. Confidence is key when you only have a few minutes to make an impression in a Meet-n-Greet or crop circle and when you eventually interview. Second, the exercise helps you start to frame how each role fits into your own career trajectory and what you are really hoping to get out of an internship. You may begin to form a broader view regarding what you might target in full-time recruiting.

So browse job postings and campus interviews in GTS, add the ones that catch your eye to your Hotlist, and skim the job descriptions. You likely already have a few of the critical skills companies are looking for. Then go on a long walk and think about how great you are. And when you start meeting with company representatives at recruiting events, you’ll be armed with insight and confidence that any recruiter will be sure to notice.


While Amy is skilled at all things green paint, she is a master at resume reviews and mock interviews! Make an appointment with a Career Advisor to help you craft your story.