Since 2012, the MBA environment has experienced changes in the reasons why young professionals pursue an MBA degree – to boost salary has decreased in importance, and to start your own business has increased in importance. But, the number one reason why young professionals pursue an MBA degree has remained the same – to improve career prospects.
MBA candidates are no strangers to the job seeking process. The average age of an MBA candidates is 28, so the majority of MBA students have experienced the job seeking process at least once since completing undergraduate studies.
Upon entering my MBA studies at the Darden School of Business in fall of 2013 I predicted what the MBA job seeking process would be like. Based on my one significant experience landing a job in consulting at Booz Allen Hamilton, where I spent my career prior to business school, I imagined that MBA recruiting would consist of a lot of networking with Darden alumni, second year students, applying for a number of positions where I could see myself having a career, and hopefully invited to interview and ultimately offered a position with at least one of those opportunities.
What I didn’t realize coming into school was that MBA recruiting would take up about as much of my time as my academics and that it would begin the second I stepped on campus. The majority of your time spent in the MBA recruiting process happens in the fall, networking with up to hundreds of companies that come on campus prior to you applying to internship positions in December, January, and in the spring.
So what does this mean for incoming MBA students?
The MBA recruiting process remains, as it should be, a time consuming and stressful process because the number one reason why MBAs are pursing the degree is to improve their career prospects. And with two out of three MBA candidates being career switchers, the ability to juggle academics, career discovery, company networking, and extracurricular and family life becomes a challenge.
Through my recent experience completing an MBA and in working with many other recent MBAs as I built RelishMBA, I’ve come up with a set of principles to help manage (and get through) the MBA recruiting process.
- Awareness. The first step is knowing that the MBA recruiting process takes time. Because the process begins so quickly and no incoming MBA has ever been an incoming MBA student before, one of the biggest obstacles is simply understanding and being aware that MBA recruiting should take up a significant amount of your time. (If you’re reading this, you can put a check plus in the awareness box.)
- Preparation. MBA student life is a busy life. Having time to discover, explore, and prepare for potential career paths while you’re going through the MBA recruiting process can be tough. The more you can do before academics and recruiting picks up in the fall to be prepared for your career pursuits, the better off you’ll be.Think through answers to questions like these: What companies/industries recruit on-campus at my school? When do companies start coming to campus? What industries do I know aren’t a good fit for me? How much time will I allocate to recruiting activities each week? Is my resume up to date? How do I find second years and alumni who have experience recruiting for the companies/industries I’m looking at? What tools and resources can help me?
- Tools. It’s useful to have a toolkit to help you be most effective in finding the career path best for you. As you transition to school, various MBA recruiting resources will be communicated to you through the career office, your classmates, and student clubs. Take advantage of these resources. Career offices do a great job of coordinating on campus events; don’t stop there, extend your reach to what can help outside of on-campus.
- Focus. As noted, MBA recruiting is a time consuming process. The more you can weed out opportunities that may not be right for you and focus on the ones that best align with your pursuits, the more effective you’ll be with those opportunities.
- Reflect. As you go through the MBA recruiting process, remember how incredible it is that you got there. For me, the most challenging part of the MBA experience was taking the GMAT and applying for business school while working full time. You are all past that point! You got into a top MBA program and the career opportunities available to you are opportunities that most people will never see in their lifetime. Reflect on why you came to business school and try and stay true to the path that’s best for you. Don’t be afraid to hold out for opportunities that happen on a later timeline.
Why I started RelishMBA
Coming into business school, I knew I wanted to start a company. What I didn’t know was that I would be driven to create a business in the MBA recruiting space.
I learned that MBA recruiting is difficult than traditional job seeking environments – it’s a time intensive process that is more like a long and complex marketing and sales operation than traditional recruiting. MBA recruiting consists of an eight month courtship process, from June (before incoming MBAs become students) to January (when students are interviewing) where the majority of the activity is in person.
I found that the online tools to support this courtship process were inadequate in helping students and employers be more efficient and make the best career and hiring decisions. So, I was compelled to start RelishMBA as the centralized online hub, connecting MBA students and companies who hire them through this MBA recruiting courtship process. RelishMBA allows students to see key points of contact, track notes on networking activity, and follow company pages to stay informed on updates and manage the recruiting process.
Founder and CEO of RelishMBA, a recruiting platform for MBA students and the companies who hire them, Sarah Rumbaugh shares her thoughts on what makes the MBA recruiting process different. Sarah is continuing to work full time on RelishMBA since graduating from the Darden School of Business in May 2015.