How to Get an Edge on the MBA Job Hunt During the Holiday Break

Get ahead of the pack with MBA job hunt advice during the holiday season

The MBA job hunt can be grueling. It’s competitive and requires serious effort – from researching positions and companies, to participating in mock interviews. By the end of the first semester, many students just want to kick back and relax. The last thing they want to do is keep up the job search. While a little R and R is recommended, they can give their career a boost by doing a bit of extra work over the holidays. 

Experts in career offices at top business schools offer advice on how to jumpstart the MBA job hunt, while others are guzzling eggnog and sleeping in: 


Network with family and friends  

The holiday dinner table is a secret goldmine, say career experts. Students always network with professionals, but often fail to recognize how valuable their personal contacts can be. In other words, when asking Uncle Leo to pass the cranberry sauce, pipe up about your desire to work on Wall Street. 

“Students who share what they’re targeting with family and friends are often surprised by the introductions that leads to – the strongest advocates often have nothing to do with the target field,” according to Abigail Kies, assistant dean at the Career Development Office at Yale School of Management. “For instance, a college roommate who is now a doctor might live next to a hiring manager at your target company. And… your college roommate will happily make a very warm introduction.” 


Get Linked in to LinkedIn 

By now, you should already have a LinkedIn profile. But the holidays are a great time to peruse and edit it, says Jeff Beavers, assistant dean of Graduate Programs at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business. He suggests making sure your profile aligns with the searches companies and industries of interest might be conducting. 

“Ensure the experience you have listed is relevant, you are following the companies you are targeting, have included project work, and have a summary that is about what you offer an employer, not about what you seek to gain from employment,” adds Beavers. 

Also, you should connect with alumni through LinkedIn and ask about scheduling brief informational meetings over coffee, suggests Beavers. The holidays are an especially good time for this because most people have a little extra time. In addition, students are often in the city they hope to be in post-graduation. 


Practice for interviews 

With extra time, you can focus on interview techniques. You can practice your elevator pitch and responses to commonly asked questions. Those who expect to be confronting case interviews can never get enough practice. 

“Students anticipating interviews in January can continue to hone technical skills needed for interviews,” says Doreen Amorosa, associate dean and managing director of the MBA Career Center at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business

You might consider video taping yourself as you repeat responses, so you can analyze your execution and modify accordingly. 


Beef up your resume 

That extra time could also be spent taking on a freelance assignment. “Talk to alums from your MBA program, or partner with professors to try to find a project you can do over the break,” says Beth Briggs, assistant dean of Career Services at New York University Stern School of Business. “Even short-term engagements can provide you with really good experiences, that you can add to your resume and talk about in future interviews.” 

Briggs makes the point that many career services offices remain open during the holiday break, and staff is available to help. Even those who already have a job or internship offer might want to take advantage of extra time during the recess. 

“For MBAs who already have accepted offers, it’s a great time to reconnect, thank, and update networking contacts,” according to Kies. “Career management is a lifelong process – not one that ends as soon as the offer is accepted. Holidays are an easy time to casually reach out to cultivate the long-term relationships students began during their active searches.”


Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website

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