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.”

Mock interviews: You are well equipped to conduct a mock interview. Ask questions that you got in your interviews. Be honest and provide actionable, constructive criticism.

Don’t:  “That was a pretty good answer. I’m surprised you haven’t gotten anything yet.”

Do:  “I got a sense of what you wanted to get across, but I think a stronger answer would have provided more detail about the exact steps you took to get the project finished ahead of schedule.”

Review/revise a resume: By now, everyone has worked on an academy project, if your friend is a career switcher help her include a bullet or two on her resume that shows some relevant (to where she wants to go) experience.  It will help recruiters see a commitment to the new career direction.

Get away from the b-school bubble: Take your friend out for some fun.  While it is unlikely hanging out at Nick’s is going to help someone get an offer, sometimes you wake up with a clearer head and renewed vigor after having sunk a “Biz”.

Kendell Brown is the Associate Director of Professional Development at the Kelley School of Business in Graduate Career Services. Kendell 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 Kendell at

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