How to Prepare for Your Post-MBA Career |

How to Prepare for Your Post-MBA Career

By Seb Murray

Updated May 17, 2019 Updated May 17, 2019


The start of the business school semester is an ideal time to think about your post-MBA career path, but how do you choose the right job opportunity? With competition for places at top employers intense, what should MBAs do to set themselves apart from the crowd? 

MBA students often see the degree as a way to career change, although many also have a strong idea of what they want to do. Seán Meehan, incoming MBA dean at IMD in Switzerland, says candidates should think about what fields interest them and use their alumni network to meet people working at companies in the relevant sector. “Educate yourself about what a career is really like in that industry,” Meehan says.  



When is the right time to begin your search?

Recruiting season begins earlier each year, with many companies now courting candidates in the summer before they begin formal classes. Jonas Jafari began preparing to apply for job opportunities at Google in May 2016 by talking to an alumnus of the MBA program at IMD, which he began in January 2017, who talked him through the rigorous application process. 

“He also mentored me for positions by offering advice and feedback on my CV,” says Jafari, who will join Google in January 2018 as an online sales account manager.

Starting early can help MBA students sniff out good opportunities and get ahead of the pack. In the US, careers events such as Forté Foundation’s annual MBA Women's Leadership Conference, and a careers fair held as part of a conference for the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, are a good way to meet recruiters in the summer. Some employers, such as McKinsey & Company, also hold individual pre-MBA events that enable students to get a feel for life at the firm. 

However, some careers teams warn that MBAs should not be rushed into making an ill-informed decision. “It’s nice to start the MBA with an offer in-hand and focus on the academic experience, but for the student who is uncertain about what his or her interests are, those opportunities can introduce further stress into the equation,” says Sheryle Dirks, senior associate dean for career management at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business



Career departments turning to new technology

The earlier recruitment season has prompted business school career departments to change how they support MBA students. Many are turning to new technology which MBA candidates access before the start of term.

One example is VMock, a CV feedback platform that uses machine learning, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence techniques to help MBA students compose better resumes. VMock’s algorithms compare students’ CVs with others in their database, provides a score and suggests possible improvements, such as grammatical corrections. 

While VMock is helpful to students in providing them with feedback relative to format, word choice and overall presentation, it should not replace having a more in-depth conversation with a career advisor, says Julie Papp, senior associate director of MBA career education and advising at MIT Sloan School of Management

MIT Sloan offers a comprehensive suite of programs and career services to MBAs, including large group workshops, CV and cover letter reviews, mock interviews, and one-on-one career advising sessions. 



The power of the internship

At US schools, which prefer the two-year MBA format, a summer internship is often the key to a full-time job offer. “Many firms today only recruit first-year MBA students and source their full-time hires from the pool of interns,” says Jeff McNish, director of the Career Development Center at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

He says that an internship, which typically lasts between six and 10 weeks, is a great opportunity for employers to see students’ ability and skills, and also for MBAs to get comfortable with their potential future employer. “The internship leads to greater satisfaction and productivity, as the hired interns are a better fit with the company.”

Darden MBA candidate Mike Burke will join consumer goods company Proctor & Gamble on a full-time basis as a marketing brand manager, after completing an internship this summer. To prepare, he contacted alumni who worked at the company and received advice from second-year MBA students in Darden’s marketing club, who helped him with mock interviews. 

While working the internship, Burke continued to seek advice from MBAs at the firm who gave him feedback on important presentations. “You should do a tonne of networking,” he says. 

When it comes to securing a full-time job offer, Lisa Umenyiora, director of careers for Imperial College Business School in London, says candidates should show potential employers that they can “think outside of the box”. “When we talk to employers, they say they value the fact that MBAs can think creatively, and come up with new ideas and solutions in different ways,” she says. But while MBAs are prized by many firms, without adequate — and early — preparation, a job offer may remain elusive. 


This article was originally published in November 2017 . It was last updated in May 2019

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