Advice for the Early Career Candidate

Early Career Candidates

Carving out the pathway to your future career requires significant self-reflection. Sometimes you need to look back in order to go forward. Think about the building blocks of your career thus far. What are your strengths and how do they align with your interests? How can you remain open to new possibilities and opportunities that you may have never even thought about? And what might those logical next steps look like?

Some of you may be thinking about an MBA– maybe next year, or five years from now. Some of you are what we refer to as an early-career candidate; individuals who have three or fewer years of full-time work experience, including students currently pursuing an undergraduate degree. Whether you’re preparing to graduate from college, new to the workforce, or thinking about an MBA in the future, we wanted to offer some insights on how you can explore immediate growth opportunities that will set you up for future success.

Internships are one of the best ways to “test the professional waters” while gaining invaluable practical experience and building a strong network early on. It’s a great way to exposure yourself to an industry or function, as well as to determine your genuine interest and preparedness for various roles. These experiences not only strengthen your resume’ or eventual graduate school application, they will pay dividends throughout the entirety of your career. You will strengthen existing competencies, build new skills, and understand more about career trajectory and logical next steps to pursue. Future employers and graduate programs alike all appreciate the value of internship experiences.

For many, professional or academic summer programs are also a great next step. Whether you’ve been in the workforce for a year or are still in undergrad, whether you’re pursuing finance or education, whether you immersed yourself in business courses or explored the liberal arts, summer programs are a great way to test out a business school experience. Such programs can effectively augment your undergraduate studies, compliment an internship experience, or even help prepare you for a new job. The Chicago Booth Summer Business Scholars Program (SBSP) may be a fit for you, especially if you are curious whether an MBA makes sense for your future. No matter your background, spending three weeks this summer at Booth will give you tangible business skills that you can use right away, and give you a great taste of the business school experience. From learning how to judge the viability of a company’s marketing strategy to reading and assessing a balance sheet, SBSP will elevate your level of business acumen and set you apart from your peers. Past participants met with industry experts who shared an insider’s look at what it would be like to run a nonprofit organization, work as an Investment Banker, or live the life of a Consultant. Recruiters and graduate programs are attracted to candidates who have explored diverse areas of study, and who can join their organization with strong leadership, business, and communication skills in place. The SBSP environment develops students into well-rounded future leaders. One way for you to see if SBSP is right for you is to meet our SBSP alumni and introduce yourself to the SBSP team.

Continuing your graduate education with an MBA is often a frequent next step for those with more work experience. Candidates always ask if MBA programs prefer someone from banking or consulting, entrepreneurship or marketing, not-for profit or family business. Our honest answer is that an MBA can benefit all backgrounds and enhance many career pursuits. The objective of MBA admissions at Booth is to bring together people with incredibly unique perspectives - perspectives that are born out of each individual’s background, skillset, and goals. This includes teachers, professional athletes, military vets, bankers and consultants alike. MBAs will boost your career and open doors to countless industries and employers. The best way to investigate the MBA as an option is to talk to students, and those in your network.

There are many roads you can take as part of your career journey. Whether it’s an internship, summer program, an MBA, or a new job, early career candidates need to think deeply about why now is the optimal to make such a transition. Take the time to explore each option in order to truly evaluate which is right for you – and when! That includes connecting with students, mentors, alumni, or admissions, to learn more.