Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Director's Corner: Successful Strategies for Job Hunting

I suspect that many of you are in the process of searching for a new career opportunity or an internship. Unquestionably, this process requires a lot of perseverance and time. As you know, we have a great team in place that is dedicated to helping you find and secure the right opportunity. All of us, faculty and staff, are dedicated to help as you go through your search process.
Based on our past experience in helping students, we have identified two strategies that seem to pay good dividends in a job/internship search process. To illustrate the value of these strategies, I would like to share with you three success stories. Each story highlights one of your classmates who has used one or both strategies to find the right opportunity.
I recognize that many of you have used similar strategies successfully. If your story is not highlighted below, I encourage you to share your own stories with your classmates to help each other focus on smart actions that could lead to good results.

Strategy 1: Even if your target organization doesn’t have job openings, take the time to connect with its executives through unpaid positions and informational interviews.
Robbie Shappley used this strategy quite effectively. For those of you who don’t know Robbie, he is a full-time MBA student in the health concentration. He has been very focused in his job search to the point of accepting an unpaid internship working for a healthcare lobbying firm in Washington DC during the summer of 2009. His networking and informational interviewing led him to a successful position with a hospital in Memphis. Robbie credits his success to his informal connections with company insiders: “At the behest of CMC, I began this process with an informational interview. At that time, the position I ultimately received did not exist. However, after my initial meeting, I was asked to formally interview for a position with the organization. With guidance from CMC, I went through three rounds of interviews, finally landing a terrific opportunity with a Fortune 500 company. I cannot speak any higher of the informational interview process, and how it can truly create wonderful opportunities for students.”

Strategy 2: Do your homework before each interaction with your target company. Being prepared is a must and you should utilize CMC and all other available resources to do the preparation.
For those of you who know Reyna Camps, an MA student, you recognize that she took this advice to heart and she has been extremely successful in her job search because of it. Even though Reyna’s past experience was in the nonprofit/medical sectors, she was determined to secure a job in finance. Reyna also wanted to work in Texas, so when a corporate finance position with Frito-Lay appeared on DeaconLink, Reyna applied. She excelled in her job search because of her enthusiastic dedication to researching the company, following up with contacts, and practicing for her interviews.
Reyna attributes much of her success to her intense level of preparation: “My CMC advisor was instrumental in my job search. She helped me to fine tune my interview skills by making herself available for mock interviews and pointing out strengths and important places for improvement. Working with her gave me the ability to interview with confidence despite my anxieties. Furthermore, the CMC gave me the names of other students who had worked with my target company. Speaking with these students definitely gave me a leg up in the interview process. I really appreciate my CMC advisor and all of her help. I would not have gotten the job without her!”

The story of David Uzzell highlights how he put to use both of the above strategies. As many of you know, David is a second-year full-time MBA student and plans to pursue a career in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG). Because internships with CPG companies in the summer of 2009 were scarce, David reached out to the parent company of his previous employer and landed an internship in brand management in San Francisco. Wanting to acquire additional CPG-related experience, David reached out to alumni and contacts that he identified while searching for his internship and secured two marketing projects with CPG companies.
David highlighted these projects on his resume. His dedication and these experiences landed him several CPG interviews and ultimately a full-time offer from Heinz as an Associate Brand Manager. David’s focus allowed him to contact the right people in the right places to both help and advise him in his job search. His level of preparation also made a difference. David would not only practice with a CMC career coach before each interview, but he would also take time to do extensive research about each company using the on-line library resources. He also used his course projects to do research on his target companies. For example, he used Professor Baliga’s assignment in his strategy course as an opportunity to research Heinz.
As David confirms, preparation was key to his success: “Many times before going into interviews I was informed who I was meeting with and what their position was. In my preparatory research I would analyze each job description and put myself in the interviewer’s shoes to determine what I would look for in a top candidate. I would then read the analyst reports and apply what I learned from my classes and try to determine the current state of their business and how they were reacting to current market conditions. This research allowed me to talk with my interviewers at their level.”
I recognize that many of you, besides Robbie, Reyna and David, have used these and other strategies successfully and encourage you to share the lessons you learned from your experience with others. I also encourage each one of you who is stilling searching for an opportunity to reach out to your faculty and staff who are here to help you as you go through your search process. We are always willing to help and all you have to do is ask.

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