Career exploration at Tuck

Stephen Pidgeon, June 27, 2013 | 0 comments
Tags: advice, career, recruiting

Business School is a fantastic opportunity to reinvent yourself, or to make a significant change in your career path. When I came here as a student (back in the mists of time in 2005!) I pictured myself taking the two years to really think about what kind of career would be best for me. I think I had a mental image of me doing a lot of walking in the woods, soul searching, and a lot of exploration.

The reality of on-campus recruiting can sometimes get in the way of this self-reflection, however. In fact, what many students experience is that from the minute they arrive, it seems like there are an overwhelming number of companies and employers in front of them, and the deadlines for applying and for interviewing loom very quickly (on-campus interviewing for summer internships takes place in January, and applications for those jobs are submitted in November).

In many ways this wealth of on-campus opportunity is an incredible privilege, and is frankly one of the major reasons that many people choose a top school like Tuck. And if you already know that your dream job is with an on-campus recruiter like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs or Amazon, that's great - the process is lined up ready for you to take advantage of it.

But how can students ensure that they get the best of both Worlds? How can they take part in the elements of on-campus recruiting that appeal to them, while also ensuring that they have been thoughtful (and rigorous) about the exploration and self-searching that they had planned?

First of all, take comfort in the fact that the majority of MBA students are in the same situation. It is the norm to come here looking to make a change. So don't feel that you are in the minority.

Secondly, don't feel that self-reflection has to be all touchy-feely and unscientific. Certainly there is time for listening to your feelings, but actually a lot of the process of finding your ideal path can be surprisingly analytical.

One of the first tools you'll encounter is an online system called Career Leader. Created by Tim Butler, from HBS, this is a system that does a very good job of asking you questions about what is important to you, balancing this against a database of literally hundreds of thousands of responses from students at top MBA programs around the World, and giving you a very accurate read on some of the elements that you appear to be looking for.

The second tool we use is a 'game' called 100 jobs. You do this with your new study group in orientation, and it's a fun way of exploring the kinds of jobs that would excite you. While it sounds 'fluffy', this game actually provides a powerful way to access the parts of your brain that aren't successfully accessed by the analytical part that usually makes your decisions.

From then on, there are a large number of further opportunities, programmatic and individual, to ensure that you don't get swept up with the current, and that you develop a finely considered, uniquely personal view of what is important to you in your onward career. For some that understanding may lead to an on-campus opportunity, for others that may lead to any number of interesting opportunities. Either way, hopefully that step is one that is taken as a result of thoughtful analysis, not just a reaction to the many opportunities that suddenly appear.


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