I lost my job when the global pandemic hit the United States last spring. It was unnerving and unexpected. Like many, I enrolled in the Executive MBA Program as a way to enhance my career; navigating through a career crisis while juggling school and family life was never part of the plan. After an initial period of panic, I turned towards several resources available to me through Chicago Booth and learned some lasting lessons about resilience and the value of relationships.
I started my new job search with a multipronged approach that focused on three key areas: self-awareness, external branding, and relationship management.
The Global Career and Leadership Development (GCLD) team at Chicago Booth provides leadership coaching and career expertise to support students throughout their program. I was able to tap into their expertise immediately. I set up bi-weekly calls with a coach on the Booth staff. She helped me to re-assess my core skills and capabilities and identify what triggers my emotions at work. This was extremely useful in terms of understanding myself better and making important connections to what types of roles I excel at and why. These sessions gave me the confidence to explore opportunities in areas beyond my professional expertise and consider jobs that could be potential ‘career pivots’. I developed a forward-thinking mindset that elevated my confidence and faith in my abilities.
As I worked through enhancing my self-awareness, I also had to be conscious of how the external marketplace perceived me and my brand. I received a lot of critical feedback and guidance from my coach. She spent countless hours with me going over my resume and LinkedIn profile, helping to ensure that each detail was exactly right and presented in a thoughtful, constructive way. With her help, I developed a systematic approach to identify, research, and target industries, roles, and job profiles that would fit my skills and professional experience. I would go back to this framework multiple times during my job search to keep me focused in my search process.
Finally, I looked to my professional network. I had always been fairly good at maintaining professional relationships over time and was able to reactivate old contacts and reconnect. My professional connections worked tirelessly to get me connected to individuals in their networks and referred my resume internally to their respective organizations.
I also reached out to Booth alums across the world, set up informational interviews, and even requested personal internal references if there was a job opportunity that they could help me with. I was amazed at the level of camaraderie and empathy I found among Booth alums and realized the true power of the Booth network.
On a more emotional level, I received a ton of support from my Executive MBA cohort. It was a huge relationship-enhancement exercise for me and I was amazed at people’s willingness to help and listen. My classmates inspired me to keep my emotions up and maintain positivity every day. This experience taught me the value of meaningful relationship-building, where conversations are open and interactive, and each party makes an effort to offer something in exchange. There was nothing transactional about any of the conversations that I had during this time.
As a result of these efforts, I found myself interviewing at seven different companies during a three-month span. Eventually, I interviewed for and accepted a new position as a Client Manager for a global firm that expanded my portfolio substantially. While I’m thrilled to have landed a new role so quickly, I feel even more positive about what the future holds now that I have gone through this experience. I learned a great deal about myself, the immeasurable and reciprocal impact of my network, and have made some promising new contacts in other industries.