Wondering how you can maximize the benefit of your MBA investment? Prospective and current MBA students are increasingly concerned with how they can distinguish themselves among their peers in an increasingly competitive post-MBA job market. According to a recent survey of over 250 current MBA students and graduates, the overwhelming majority of respondents noted that “networking” was the number one way that they could improve their job prospects and career search success.
The good news is that 85% of your peers felt that their career choices and job prospects improved over the previous graduating class and nearly 70% of respondents were satisfied with their school’s efforts to provide them with opportunities to help their job searches. That being said, past and present MBAs have reiterated time and time again that proactively seeking out and engaging in every opportunity to learn more about and connect with people who are already engaged in your field of interest are essential aspects of the job search process.
MBAs advise prospective students to “develop a refined networking strategy prior to enrolling” and to “start networking immediately after starting your MBA program, rather than waiting until the last few months before you start applying for jobs.” While it is certainly important for prospective MBAs to choose a program that fits their learning objectives and professional interests, current MBAs advise prospective students to be increasingly cognizant of the strength of the program’s networking opportunities. Current students and recent graduates noted that programs which offer practical experience in specific professions and industries are invaluable in that they allow students to test whether or not their career aspirations are realistic and, most importantly, a good fit.
What are some specific actions you can take to develop your professional network and improve your job prospects? Here’s some of the advice that your peers had to offer: attend industry specific seminars/conferences, go to career fairs/exhibitions, set up informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest, and take on more industry consulting projects to get firsthand experience and exposure to management in the area of business that you are most interested in pursuing. Additionally, don’t forget to keep in touch with the people you meet while attending networking events, participating in internships, and working on consulting projects.
One student wrote that, “An MBA program is a chance to get to know a lot of people that can be interested in your work or even recommend you to a job.” Among the most important people to develop connections with are alumni, mentors, and professors who may work in industries or professions that interest you. Finally, a group of individuals that MBAs can often overlook when thinking about expanding their professional networks is their MBA program’s student body. Don’t underestimate the value and potential of connecting with your peers!
Peter von Loesecke
CEO, The MBA Tour