Monday, February 23, 2015

3 Things to Consider When Seeking a Mentor

By Nicolette Johnson
Associate Director of
Graduate Career Services
By Nicolette Johnson

If you're starting your journey into a new career or joining a new organization, you’ll likely think about finding a mentor. Here are three things to consider in your search:

1. Don’t rush. 

Stop and take a breath. Mentors can offer helpful advice and career know-how, but there’s no need to rush to find a mentor. Instead, seek advice from a variety of people and let those mentoring relationships grow on their own.

Taking it slow will also give you time to understand the organization and who the best potential mentor matches may be. Then, once you’ve found someone you admire and connect with, you can, as necessary, build the relationship into a more formal mentoring relationship.

2. Know the difference between a mentor and a sponsor.  

A mentor gives you career advice, shares lessons they've learned, provides feedback, and serves as a sounding board for your ideas. A sponsor is often a high level person who champions you and helps open doors for you. Ideally, you want both.

During my career, I’ve had mentors who gave great advice, and I've had sponsors from whom I got little advice and in some cases didn’t know very well. They gave me visibility, like inviting me on the corporate jet to get to know other executives, and ultimately they helped me get promotions.

Like mentoring, sponsorship can grow organically, too. To catch the eye of a sponsor, be sure to perform well, take on visible assignments (and yes—sometimes the ones no one else wants), and align yourself with people who both like you and have a sponsor’s ear.

3. Be sure to offer something. 

Like any relationship, you will need to provide some give and take. Be sure that you provide those with whom you have mentoring or sponsoring relationships with something of value.

You can give them useful information, articles, or even ground-level word-on-the-street insight.

Most importantly, make sure you perform well. The last thing a sponsor or mentor wants is to endorse you and you perform badly. He or she will view that as a bad reflection on them, likely distancing themselves from you, at best, as a result.

Nicolette Johnson is the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services at the Kelley School of Business. Nicolette and her team meet and coach hundreds of students, alumni, and corporate partners on tried and true recruiting methods, interviewing tactics, and career management strategies, while staying in tune to how these areas are changing and evolving. Email Nicolette at

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Show employers some love: Emphasize what you will give, not what you will get

By Suzanne Stuebe, Associate Director of
Graduate Career Services
Any employer will want to understand how you meet the company’s needs before taking you into consideration. To quote former President Kennedy: Ask not what an employer can do for you—ask what you can do for an employer.

The things employers really want to know about you are:

Why do you want this job?  Do you understand the company and its purpose?  Are you excited about the mission?

Research the company, write down your thoughts, and rehearse them as part of your script. Think of at least two or three reasons this job is a good match for your skills, strengths, experience and background. What can you bring to the company?

Your answer should reflect that you have thought about what you want and have researched the company. The employer does not care if you want to advance your career, make money, or get better benefits. Do not make the answer all about you. They want to know what you are going to do for them. Let them know you are the solution to their problem. Focus on explaining how your skills and abilities will do the best job of making their work lives easier.

Why are you qualified to do the job?  Do you have the necessary hard skills for the position?  Do you have the key soft skills, such as the ability to work well in teams?  

Carefully analyze the job posting to analyze what competencies are required for the position. Make sure you have stories and examples that demonstrate how you have shown these kinds of actions in your current or past roles. Be prepared with plenty of examples that can convince any interviewer that you have "the right stuff."

Are you the right “fit”?

As you prepare for your interview, think about what kinds of qualities and personalities are right for the job. Different jobs require different behavior patterns. Fit is a subjective measure that takes into account your abilities, as well as innate qualities such as sense of humor, capacity to learn quickly, maturity, and confidence.  It's a combination of how the interviewer feels about you and whether you seem like someone who will fit in well and complement the rest of the team.

Suzanne Stuebe is the Associate Director of Graduate Career Services at the Kelley School of Business. Suzanne and her team meet and coach hundreds of students, alumni, and corporate partners on tried and true recruiting methods, interviewing tactics, and career management strategies, while staying in tune to how these areas are changing and evolving. Email Suzanne at

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to help a classmate with their off-campus job search

Kendell Brown
Associate Director of Professional
Development in Graduate Career Services
You are thrilled you got the offer you’d been gunning for, but you look around and see a friend frustrated because she missed out on not just her top choice, but also her B-tier and C-tier options.

She has to start the dreaded off campus search.

How can you help?

It’s acceptable to do some commiserating, but that really doesn’t help your friend land something. Here are some ideas that will really help.

Regular check ins: As you know, looking for a job can be exhausting. The reality is that it’s not any easier when the search moves off campus. One of the best things you can do is regularly check in with a friend and see how things are going. It will show your friend that you care, but even more importantly, it will work to ensure that the off-campus search is maintaining momentum. The jobs are out there, but they don’t come knocking on anyone’s door. Weekly chats with your classmate will remind her that she needs to keep this a priority.

Help your friend define what she wants: Sometimes when someone starts doing an off campus search, target companies and contacts may not be that familiar with MBA’s and what we mean when we say "financial analyst," "marketing strategy," etc.  All the person at the other end of the email/phone call hears is “I want a high paying job doing blah, blah, blah." Help a friend think through what they really want to do and then help them come up with a concise way to say it.  “I’m looking for a strategic assignment that allows me to work with divisional and/or corporate leadership to identify, analyze and execute key growth initiatives designed to drive value for an organization.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Shaking it out: An interview with the freshmen who won the National Diversity Case Competition

Earlier this month, we welcomed 140 students from 35 schools to the Kelley campus to compete in the fourth annual National Diversity Case Competition. The energy in our building was hard to describe.

As faculty liaison Mikel Tiller recently put it: "These bright, energetic young minds, bringing their own unique perspectives to bear, are a huge source of energy and direction for us. How can anyone ever learn anything by embracing sameness?"

We're proud of our all-freshman team, Vineyard Consultants, for taking 1st place. They were up against upperclassmen in teams from Yale, Berkeley, NYU, and Wharton, and they didn't take that lightly. They spent time building their case over winter break, and just before presenting they went into an empty room and danced out their nervous energy.

In the case, Vineyard Consultants were asked to identify a fashion-forward brand that Target should partner with to target Hispanic shoppers. They landed on a brand partnership with Julia y Renata, a growing Mexican designer brand that is well-known in Mexico, Spain, and parts of Latin America.

Vineyard Consultants are:
  • Maya Caine, Information Systems and Business Analytics major, French minor
  • Mica Caine, Information Systems and Security Informatics major, French minor
  • Thomas Dougherty, Economic Consulting and International Business major, Chinese minor
  • Keiondre Goodwin, Economic Consulting and International Business major, Chinese minor

Three team members sat down to reflect on the NDCC, their first case competition and certainly not their last.

Why it's important to stay in touch with the people you turned down (and how to do it effectively)

Mike Schmeckebier
Associate Director,
Graduate Career Services
When a job search ends, I always love getting the phone call that the person has not only received a job offer but that they’ve received multiple job offers.

I can only think of a few things that make you feel better than knowing more than one organization wants you and your talents on their team. After I share words of congratulations, give high fives, and we talk through deciding which offer to accept, I always end with a surprising question:

How are you going to stay in touch with the people you turn down?

When I’m on the phone with a client, the dialogue after that question usually goes something like this:

Client: silence

Me: Hello, hello, are you still there?

What do I mean by staying in touch with the people you turn down? 

And why would they want to stay in touch with you? You’re turning them down, after all, and that step is hard enough.

Keeping in touch with the people you turned down isn’t as crazy as it sounds. An interview process that leads to an offer is intensive. You share a lot with the people who interview you. Chances are high that good relationships were formed.

These people liked you enough that they were willing to make you a colleague, which means they probably like you enough to stay in touch.

Employers understand the hiring process. They understand that you can only work at one place. They understand you are making the best decision for you. If they’re upset about anything, they are disappointed they didn’t get you.

Some of those people might leave that company for a new position. You can figure out all the reasons why that might be good for you. They wanted to hire you now, so chances are very good that they will want to hire you again in the future.

All of this is under the assumption you turned down the offer in a professional way. If you fail to do that, then all bets are off.

So, how do you stay in touch with an employer you turned down? 

My best advice after you professionally and properly turn down the job offer is to do the following:

1. Connect on LinkedIn with every person you formed a relationship with during the interview process, if you haven’t already done it.

2. Once you do that, send them another brief note expressing gratitude and wishing good luck.
Let things lie for 5-6 months and enjoy your new job.

3. After about six months, identify a couple key people from the interview process and send them a note with an update on how things are going for you and asking how they are.

4. Once you get past the one year mark in the new job, and if you live or work in the same area as those job offers, invite those same people out for lunch, coffee, or a drink just to catch up. Do this once or twice a month, individually, until you’ve hit everybody. If you don’t live in the same area, make it a phone call or email exchange instead.

5. Once you complete that cycle, those people are officially in your network and you should treat them accordingly going forward.

Too often we leave out this vital pocket of people to add into our network. Take the time to do it, because turning down an offer might one day turn up a job.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What do losing weight and finding a new job have in common?

Kendell Brown
Associate Director of Professional
Development in Graduate Career Services
Happy 2015!

Since it’s the start of the new year, I’m relating this post to the tradition of making resolutions. My annual resolution is to lose weight—shocking, considering it is the #1 resolution made by American adults. Perhaps it’s yours, too. The #2 resolution for American adults is to get a new job, and since you’re still reading this post, you obviously have an interest in some aspect of career management.

There is a lot of overlap between my resolution and various aspects of career management. I’ve been all over the Internet picking up tricks and tips that will help me lose the weight this year. And I’ve got to tell you, every website, celebrity trainer, and P90X success story says the same thing: Make a public commitment, set measurable goals, plan ahead, and make a lifestyle change.

Let’s take a closer look and compare a successful weight loss plan to a job search.

Making a public commitment

Weight loss: From what I’ve read, the first step in deciding to lose weight is revealing my weight loss goals to family and friends. A public announcement will make me accountable to others and create a stronger commitment to the resolution.

Job search: If you’ve resolved to get a new job this year, you should also let family and friends know.  If your brother-in-law’s company is hiring, how will he know to pass your resume along, if he doesn’t know you’re looking? And if you want to make an internal move, don’t be afraid to tell your boss.  She knows your skillset and what’s happening around the organization.

Setting measurable goals

Weight loss: If I skip lunch and dinner today, the scale reading will be less tonight than it was this morning. But a more helpful goal is: Lose 1 pound each week by eliminating soda, working out 3 times each week, and switching to Meatless Mondays.

Job search: Apply to lots of postings on—Yes, this is a goal, but it is one that will likely cause you frustration. Instead, try goals like:

  • Re-read performance reviews. This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Conduct two mock interviews weekly, so you’re prepared for the inevitable.
  • Research five companies per week, so you have some idea of where you’ll fit and where you won’t.
  • Create a posting for your perfect job. If a real posting doesn’t align with at least 80% of what you’ve written, don’t apply.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy holidays from the Kelley School of Business

From all of us at the Kelley School of Business in Bloomington and Indianapolis, we wish our Kelley family and friends a warm, safe, and peaceful holiday season.

Spread the joy by sharing this video with anyone and everyone whose holidays can be made brighter by IU's beautiful sights and sounds.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Q&A with CareBand and SwapBeat: What makes a winning idea?

Startup Weekend Bloomington gave teams 54 hours to launch a startup that would change the world.

Two of the three winning ideas were led by IU and Kelley School of Business students. The 1st place winner, CareBand, is a wearable wandering management solution for people with dementia. The 3rd place winner, SwapBeat, is a social commerce platform to buy and sell instrumental music between producers and recording artists.

CareBand and SwapBeat have moved on to the Regional track of the Global Startup Battle, and voting will determine which two ideas in the US Central/East region will move on to the global competition.

Voting ends tonight.

CareBand is a wearable wandering management solution for people with dementia. The CareBand team is Scott Trepper, Andrew Jones, Claudia Maria, Adam Sobol, Vince Rowold, and Chris Chu.

Vote for CareBand

SwapBeat is a social commerce platform for buying and selling instrumental music between producers and recording artists. The SwapBeat team is Mary Catherine Burns, Askar Akhmetshin, Sanjana Nayak, Chris Williams, Natalie Lamm, and Francis Mejia

Vote for SwapBeat

CareBand's Adam Sobol and SwapBeat's Christopher Williams sat down to answer a few questions about how ideas are born, and what makes a winning idea.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Extremely motivated: Kelley School's champions in the National Diversity Case Competition

These four students will represent Indiana University and the Kelley School in next month's National Diversity Case Competition on the Kelley campus.

The IU Kelley team is:

  • Maya Caine, Information Systems and Business Analytics major, French minor
  • Mica Caine, Information Systems and Security Informatics major, French minor
  • Thomas Dougherty, Economic Consulting and International Business major, Chinese minor
  • Keiondre Goodwin, Economic Consulting and International Business major, Chinese minor

The competition to get here was tough. They competed against other bright and talented teams in the IU Diversity Case Competition to qualify. In that competition, students were asked how they would attract and retain more women in business. The student teams came up with solutions ranging from high school student outreach to advocating for more reasonable maternity and paternity leaves.

The IU team says their greatest strength is extreme motivation: "Although we are all freshmen, we are dedicated to producing quality work."

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It runs in the family

Jeff Rowe, MBA'16, and Natalie Rowe, MBA'13,
took turns pursuing Kelley MBAs while visiting one
another as far as 2,000 miles away.
Jeff and Natalie Rowe grew up together and moved 2,000 miles to the Midwest for MBA degrees at Kelley. They did it separately: Jeff worked in California until Natalie graduated in 2013, and now Natalie works in Louisville while Jeff pursues his Kelley MBA.

They're working as a team to accomplish their individual career goals. It's the perfect Kelley story.

Sometimes, being a Kelley just runs in the family. Or, the personality traits that made you choose Kelley happen to align perfectly with someone else's personality traits that drew them here, too.

Last week we posted this photo and asked how Kelley runs in your family. We got some great responses. Siblings, parents, spouses, fianc├ęs, and generations of Kelleys sent photos and stories.

Here is what you said.

Do you have Kelleys in your family? Share your story in the comments.