An MBA can be your ticket to the top, with 90% of those studying on prestigious MBA courses finding employment within three months of graduating and earning a six-figure salary within three years. However, you'll need more than just a degree to reach your full potential. To really maximize your prospects, the business networking and career services offered by business schools are an invaluable resource.
MIT's Sloan School of Management in Massachusetts, for example, offers students interview coaching, business networking workshops, company meetings and executive guest lectures. Alessandra Christensen, senior associate director of recruiting services, stresses how important it is for students to use these services as much as possible. "The sooner MBAs begin to prepare and put a career search plan in place, the better equipped and more successful they will be."Interview coaching and building confidence
MBA graduate Katherine Robinson says the careers services team at the Asia School of Business (ASB) in Malaysia has been a huge asset in her job search. Last year, she found employment at beauty brand LF Products in Hong Kong.
Robinson says her career development director, Rhoda Yap, spent the summer coaching her on how to do well in case interviews (when an applicant is presented with a business challenge and asked to propose a solution).
However, she adds that the biggest benefit of business school was gaining confidence: "My job search had many peaks and troths. I often wondered if I should come up with backup options." But her CDO advised her to stay focused and positive.
"She was very confident in my abilities and this helped me stay calm, patient and self-assured, even during stressful periods," Robinson says.Use alumni to your advantage
The famed business school alumni network is also beneficial. Business networking at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, for example, has been ranked as the best in the world by The Economist. "In industries and careers around the world, Tuck alumni selflessly provide counsel and insights to students," says Mathias Machado, director of career services.
"Students often research alumni within specific companies and reach out to them to learn more. They are notoriously responsive."
For example, MBA candidate Eunice Bii met Tuck alumni at a campus career fair. They were eager to look over his CV and do mock interviews and he was subsequently hired by the Boston Consulting Group firm.
Technology can help in the job search too. "LinkedIn was a critical piece of my business networking experience," says MIT MBA candidate Lauren Bronec. "I used the tool to identify Sloanies at companies I was interested in."
She is currently working an internship at Nike in Portland. "Don't be afraid of the cold email," Bronec says. "Reach out and make an initial connection. The best opportunities aren't necessarily the ones you find through a job posting. They come from building a relationship."Turning to technology for assistance
One growing trend at business schools around the world is an increasing use of technology and artificial intelligence to help boost the career prospects of their MBAs.
At ASB, students utilize VMock, a tool which uses artificial intelligence to help them rapidly increase the quality and consistency of their resumes. It does so by comparing CVs with others in a database and suggesting potential improvements, such as grammatical corrections.
IMD in Switzerland goes a step further. The business school organizes sessions with experts on how recruiters such as Goldman Sachs are using technology such as AI chatbots and video interviews in the employment process. "We provide video conferencing and web-based platforms to prepare our MBAs for technological interactions with recruiters," says Julia De Vargas-Marquez, IMD's career services director.Students helping students
Student associations also take an active role in preparing graduates for interview. Patrik Wallén, director of career services at IESE, says he works with professional clubs to "help students research specific sectors or companies and prepare them for the interview process".
Alberto Bastida is a candidate on IESE's 19-month MBA course and former president of the school's consulting club. He says: "The most useful thing was how well they explained each stage of the application process. They stayed at school for very long hours, day after day, giving mock interviews to every single applicant."
He advises candidates to take advantage of all support on offer at business school. "Many people don't because either they are afraid of asking or because they think it's not important enough," Bastida says. "In many cases, a nice conversation with someone, a tip you learn in a workshop or asking a good question during a company presentation, is what will make the difference to your success."Finding the right job for you
As well as using career services and networks to help secure employment, you can also use these services to discover if a particular job opportunity is right for you. David Dohkune secured a summer internship at BCG and the career services team at MIT helped him to assess the culture at the firm (which is renowned for having bright employees and good professional development).
He attended careers fairs, coffee chats and company treks. "I asked myself if I resonated with the culture and if I could see myself working with the people I met," Dohkune says. "The events helped me make an informed decision, with confidence and certainty, about the direction that was right for me."
Dohkune adds that, with all the information sessions, meetings and networking, careers season can become stressful and taxing ¡X but those who remain committed will benefit enormously. Career services and business networking are vital to landing an MBA job.