While the job search certainly starts on day one of the MBA program (or even before that), the process was somewhat of a light jog until I came back to campus following my internship.
My target companies have been consulting firms throughout the program, so my core activities in the first year included practicing case interviews, attending on campus information sessions, and conducting informational interviews through networking. Those activities were targeted toward an internship until I accepted one, and then their focus immediately shifted to full time opportunities. Keeping up with networking and practice cases during my internship was challenging as my number one priority quickly became work and networking within the firm with which I interned. Fully experiencing Rio de Janeiro (my home for the summer) was also, admittedly, a higher priority.
Then second year starts …
I stepped off the plane from Brazil on Sunday with classes starting Wednesday. And while I was prepared for an important 2 – 4 months of more practicing and networking, I was not prepared for the intensity of the 2nd year recruiting process. Campus is immediately flooded with employers conducting information sessions for the 2nd year MBA students (a testament to Fisher’s career services center) which occupy plenty of lunches and evenings. They were all helpful and necessary, if for no other reason than to confirm my lack of interest in certain roles/industries, but they certainly take time. Throw 1 or 2 job conventions in (I went to the NSHMBA, or National Society of Hispanic MBAs, conference in Orlando) and you’re doubling or tripling this time commitment.
There are also just a lot of decisions to make, not the least of which being which companies to apply for! I think I only ended up applying for 10 or so, but typing up a thoughtful cover letter (which, to be good, required a decent amount of prior networking), reviewing my resume (I don’t think I submitted the same resume twice), filling out the online application and sometimes typing up an extra requirement (a few applications asked for an essay, writing sample, or online test or assessment) took me a great deal of time per application. I made a poor decision at one point and burnt an evening applying to a company with which I had done ZERO networking and was outside of my target industry (an investment bank, not a consulting firm). I was certainly not surprised when I didn’t get an interview…
And then there are the interviews themselves … one of my biggest challenges was outlining my “stories,” or office situations that illustrate my strengths and experiences. I had to know them well enough to stretch them out to 30 minute conversations (for 1 story!) or condense them down to a 2 minute answer to a rapid fire “tell me about a time when” question. This was especially difficult to formulate stories about my internship as those experiences were still marinating, so to speak. Toss the warm up practice cases, traveling and follow up emails in and … you get the picture.
I am happy and feel lucky to say it was all worth it. All of the activity helped me perform well in interviews with my top target firm and I landed a position in my top target market … Chicago!