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5 Myths & Misconceptions Students Often Have About Landing Their First MBA Job

Are you working with a coaching client who is attending business school (or even earning an undergraduate degree)? As I collaborate with MBA career coaches far-and-wide and hear the challenges they have in working with students, these common themes surface when it comes to students landing a summer internship or job after graduation. I call them the 5 Myths & Misconceptions students often have about landing their first MBA job. Perhaps you’ve heard them too?

 

“My Degree Will Do It”: An MBA degree is a huge asset, and yet it shouldn’t be relied on as the Golden Ticket. Those that do may have to stand in line behind candidates who have an MBA plus more years of experience than you have. Ultimately, it’s about one’s ability to connect with the company decision makers and deliver remarkable value based on the MBA (or any degree!).

Potential Powerful Coaching Question: Knowing there are many other candidates out there who have both an MBA and more years of experience than you, how would you describe your value as a differentiator?

 

“My Alumni Network Will Do It”: One’s alumni network is also a huge asset. And yet, as with all relationships, trust takes time. Start early in building and nurturing relationships. Networking master and New York Times bestselling author Harvey Mackay said it well, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

Potential Powerful Coaching Question: How long would it take you to trust a stranger with something important like your reputation or sharing your network?

 

“My Career Coach Will Do It”: The MBA Career Center teams I am aware of are among the most competent industry experts in the nation and are a source of insights, information, introductions, and inspiration. Nonetheless, they cannot secure a job for someone else. Just as no one can take finals for another or choose a mate for another, no one but the student/graduate can secure his/her own job!

Potential Powerful Coaching Question: As a business leader, you’ll make decisions about what to execute on yourself and what to delegate to others. Although you can team up with others, job search is one of those “execute yourself” tasks. What do you see as some of the benefits of “owning” your search?

 

“I’ll Wait Until I’m Done with Classes”: The early bird catches the worm! Meaning, success comes to those who prepare well and put in effort. To land early, start early and work smart. Create and nurture relationships over the course of time so others get to know you, see you, and trust you.

Potential Powerful Coaching Technique: The BLS stats are showing average job search periods of more than 36 weeks, and our school data is aligning with that as well. With those numbers in mind, let’s map out a ‘storyboard’ of how many quality meetings with contacts you’ll need to be making each week and how/when that will happen so that you can reach your goal.

 

“It’ll Be Easy”: Joe Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Greatest Salesman. One of his most well-known quotes is this: “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time.”

Potential Powerful Coaching Technique: There are many steps in the job search and the only short-cuts are getting a head-start on your competition by beginning early, working steady, creating trust, and delivering value. What would SMART goals look like in each of those areas?

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3 Responses to “5 Myths & Misconceptions Students Often Have About Landing Their First MBA Job”

  1. Harriette Royer says:

    Susan, as I expected, your blog on the MBA is “spot on.” I’ve been coaching MBAs and MS Business candidates for 10 years and you nailed the barriers to success. You also chose superb interventions/coaching techniques to move them forward. For some of the push-back, though, we don’t even connect with the candidates until a few weeks or months before they graduate. GRRR. The other factor that we are facing is the vast cultural chasm between Indian and Chinese candidates’ home country experience and “the way things work in the US.” What works for top candidates in Shanghai and Delhi doesn’t work here.

    Thanks for sharing your expertise with others.

    Harriette

  2. Tom says:

    Susan:

    I was new to your site and noticed you talk nothing of your academic background, only the certifications and other coaching you have gone through.

    Do you have an MBA or other business background?

    I couldn’t find any of your former career background, college, etc…

    I ask this because, if a consumer is wanting to buy into your products or services, but you don’t have the education or have any career history except starting your own business and getting various certifications, isn’t that the same as what many of the other life coach or MLM’s do when one guy or gal pays it forward and you basically network and each other does the same thing and so and so on?

    I could see if you had a college degree, worked in the job force for so many years, got your certs in career coaching and so forth, but I don’t see that.

    Please explain or advise, because your LINKEDIN basically shows you started your academy in 2001, but nothing prior to that and that you have been getting one cert after the other, but you show no actual job force or career experience.

    Thanks,

    Tom

  3. Susan Whitcomb says:

    Tom, good questions, and thanks for asking. Like many people in the workforce, my career path has taken unexpected paths from my bachelor’s degree several decades ago (emphasis in Music Therapy from University of the Pacific, which has long been listed on my LinkedIn profile along with prior experience). I wouldn’t know it at the time, but that training helped prepare me to work in behavior change (which is what coaching is all about). My coach training includes more than 150 course-hours from programs approved by the Int’l Coach Federation, more than a typical graduate degree program requires, in addition to the other specialized training and certifications in the career space. Although I don’t hold an MBA, I have worked extensively with executive clients, MBA students, and coaches who work with MBA students throughout my career–the ideas from this post have been vetted by career coaches at top MBA schools whom I greatly respect.

    My business background started with commercial real estate and law firms before striking out on my own (I come from a family of entrepreneurs where business decisions re real estate investments are part of dinner table conversation). I have owned my own business for more than 25 years, weathering the ups-and-downs of good and bad economies and continuing to see top-line and bottom-line growth, with international reach. I’m honored to have a team of instructors who are industry thought leaders teaching our programs, as well as employees who have made the business what I couldn’t do on my own. I know first-hand what it means to come up with the dollars to make payroll every other week, deal with the uncertainties of the economy, and provide services that deliver a return-on-investment to the customers and community I serve. Life (and business) is good!

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