Thursday, January 5, 2012

Career Services - MIT Sloan Fellows Program

This is going to be a long post..!!

'Career Services' or the lack of it in the program is one of most common questions I get from prospective applicants, specially the ones who are self-funded. When I applied to the program, I also had doubts about post program placement but here are a few things I have learnt over time.

Career Services & Placement Services - 2 different pieces

At the outset, it is important to note that the program does not offer Placement Services for Sloan Fellows but it does offer Career Services through the Career Development Office or CDO. 

Difference between the two is you will not get an opportunity to recruit on campus (through the CDO) even when companies are lining up to hire 2-Yr MBAs for fairly junior positions. But you get assistance to build your resume, individual sessions with the CDO Director, seminars with headhunters, access to alumni database and openings posted on the MIT Sloan Career Site. How helpful are career services vs. the placement service depends on where you are in your job search. 

Why no Placement Services.?

Reason why Placement Services were/are not offered is because historically the program has had more sponsored candidates than self funded candidates. Secondly, the stage at which Sloan Fellows are in their career (avrg exp. of 14 yrs), it is difficult for the school to have standardized placement services. 

But then the other side is in a class of 100 people, 50 are sponsored, 20 want to be entrepreneurs and then only 30 people are looking for jobs. So to place 30 people should not be a big deal for the school as they have the entire infrastructure in place (for 2 Yr MBAs) when it comes to placements.

Should you decide your school/program based on career/placement services..?

Absolutely not..!!

After graduating from a top school like Sloan you should be able to find your way. Networking is the most abused word in B-schools, but what it means is that you need to start reaching out to people you already know and also the ones you do not know who can be helpful in your job search. 

At the end it always comes down to the individual and the effort you put in your job search. Make no mistake that it does take a lot of time. Other schools like Stanford and LBS do offer placement services but after speaking to fellows there I got a feeling that it still depends on the individual and not the school. 

My recommendation for Job Search

If you get selected and join the program then:

a) Start early. 

Whether it is getting your resume in shape or reaching out to people, you start as soon as possible. People who struggled to find a job from earlier batches did not start looking till Feb/March, which in my opinion was really late. Executive hiring takes time so start early.

b) Keep your current job 

As a back up if you can and come on a sabbatical. This is one of the best advice I got before coming to the program and I followed it.

c) Play to your Strengths

If English is not your strength and you look for a job in US, you are competing against people who have English as their first language. So play to your strengths and not weaknesses

d) Avoid too many changes

Change of country, industry, function, role all at the same time will make things more difficult for you. For eg. if you have spent 14 yrs in Healthcare in Europe and now you want to transition to Banking in US, it is going to be extremely difficult. But if you want to remain in Healthcare in US but want to take up a larger role, its going to be relatively easy. 

Lastly, all of the above are subjective to each individuals profile, strengths, weaknesses, age, experience... the list goes on..!!