Think career change is easy? Think again.

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Imagine you’ve been accepted to the Executive MBA program at Booth. Well done! This will be the first of many ‘Booth’ accomplishments you achieve. Along the way you’ll acquire a world-class business education and an unmatched global network. You will also have the strength of the Booth brand behind you, which brings an unspoken credibility that’s hard to describe in words (got that?). You might think the doors to career success should be flying open for you. Well, it’s not that simple.

Career change is hard. Often times really hard. Mid- to senior-level professionals who have built their careers on years of developed functional and industry expertise often struggle to understand and articulate how that collective experience translates to the next level, a new function or industry, or even a new country. Instead, they often expect the MBA to do the talking for them.

Add to that the heightened expectation by employers of what an experienced professional with a Booth MBA should bring to the table — not just value add via experience and skills, but the leadership gravitas, professional polish and rich network that are assumed to be de rigeur for an individual of this caliber.

I compare earning the Booth MBA to being able to walk into a bigger stadium, compete against tougher opponents, and feel like you belong in the game. ‘Playing’ is not necessarily easier than it was before you embarked on the MBA, but you become a more competitive professional. In this way, your MBA doesn’t just simply level the playing field; it elevates you to a new one.

It is this challenge of career change that underpins why Chicago Booth invests heavily in Career Services for all its student populations. Our Executive MBA students have a global team based in Chicago, London and Hong Kong, dedicated to their career management needs. In the lives of our busy students, with big jobs, heavy school loads and personal lives to contend with, there is often not enough time to dedicate to one’s career management. That’s where working closely with one of our coaches to develop a custom plan can be incredibly valuable. Our students are the masters of their own careers and how they develop as leaders and professionals. And our coaches are their trusted partners, offering thoughtful perspectives, challenging beliefs, dispelling myths, and providing a way forward in what can often be a confusing and energy-draining process. As coaches we also bring the benefit of having worked collectively with thousands of students and seek to use that collective experience for the benefit of our current classes. Career change at the executive level is hard, but our students are up to the task and they know they have a partner in the journey.

Wayland Lum

Senior Associate Director - Career Management