The Post-MBA Career Marathon
By Shivam Srivastava, Second-Year Career Advisor | february, 2013, Issue 2
The toughest realization for me during B-school has been that building a career is truly like running a marathon; it's not about sprinting to land the best internship. I came to school with an Engineering background and the goal of interning in Venture Capital. However, as I got deeper into the winter quarter, I realized just how difficult it was going to be to land a VC internship given the limited amount of hiring taking place within the industry. Therefore, I started to reevaluate and reassess my job search and my career goals. One thing that came up consistently while networking with VCs was that they loved and valued product management and startup experience. This led me to decide to reach out to a classmate who had accepted a product management role; through this connection I was able to secure an internship. I also decided to secure a second internship at a startup towards the end of the summer. I connected with some VC's through working at the startup, which ultimately led to me landing a winter quarter internship in my second year with a prestigious $600M venture fund.
Not only did I eventually get that perfect VC internship, the chain of events helped me understand that VC may not be the best fit for me in the short term post-grad. However, through the process I have had a chance to build my network and gain valuable experience, which I know will help me transition back into VC later in my career. None of this would have been possible if I had not been open to considering opportunities outside the VC domain.
This story is not to advocate giving up on your dreams – in fact, many of the non-traditional careers require relentless persistence. However, I would recommend putting some deep thought into the different ways to get to where you want to be.
If you already went through the on-campus process, analyze what happened and what may not have worked well. During the fall quarter, it is easy to "follow the herd" and make similar decisions to many of your classmates. However, now is a good time to re-analyze where you want to take your career. For me, getting into VC meant that I needed to get a better understanding of building technology products. Similarly, while you may not be able to get an internship in the field you desire, make sure you are moving in the right direction. If you are not sure what that is, speak with several people in the industry with various levels of experience. Finally, when selecting a summer internship, optimize for meaningful learning and experience. When recruiting for full time recruiters will love to hear about your impact over the summer and you need to come back with solid stories to tell them.
There are a ton of opportunities out there all the way through June (Note: I accepted my internship in mid-May). In fact, some of the coolest opportunities come later in the cycle. A lot of these will be posted in GTS. Keep in mind that some of the firms your classmates are joining may also have additional openings. By definition, off-campus recruiting is networking-driven. Your success in finding a great job will be a direct reflection of how many people know what you are interested in, and how many of them feel comfortable referring you. Ensure you utilize every single opportunity to speak with people and end conversations with a request for additional leads.