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5 Business School Tactics to Get MBA Jobs

The news took Michelle Chevalier by surprise.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek (www.businessweek.com, 2011), the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management had the best job placement rate of 2011 among business schools. At Carlson, only 3 percent of students didn't have job offers three months after graduation, compared to 9 percent a year before. The median starting salary had jumped 6 percent — from $90,000 in 2010 to $95,507 in 2011 — and the median starting bonus had risen from $15,000 in 2010 to $20,000 in 2011.

Chevalier, director of the Graduate Business Career Center at Carlson, recognized they'd had "a good year," but she didn't know how the other schools had done.

"I was surprised," she recalled. "I'm really proud of those results."

In fact, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that job placement from MBA programs has been moving closer to pre-recession levels. An improving economy and innovative career center initiatives are two factors positively affecting MBA employment.


5 business school tactics to get MBA jobs

Getting anywhere near 100 percent of business school students employed is a major task — especially in a tight economy. Therefore, leaders at MBA programs have implemented plans to connect students early on with potential leads to jobs. Carlson has used innovative approaches to lead to top results. These include the following.

1. Immerse in the career search process from Day One.

You should begin looking for a job the moment you arrive in business school. During MBA orientation, Carlson students participate in the Career Leadership Academy. Chevalier said the week-long "career boot camp" provides first-year students the opportunity to investigate the MBA search process. Students learn about self-assessment, resume development, offer negotiation, etiquette, and business attire, among other topics.

2. Master the business career search process.

You should also know everything there is to know about the career search process. One way to do that is by reading everything you can related to the MBA job search process. Carlson provides its business school students with a 200-page document geared at finding a job, Chevalier said, adding that the publication looks and reads just like a magazine.

3. Target employers who want to hire you.

Once you have mastered the search process, you should identify employers interested in hiring students with your background. At Carlson, Chevalier said, experts on employer relations travel the world visiting companies. The idea is to strengthen existing relationships or build new ones. The number of jobs accepted through on-campus recruiting jumped from 9 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2011, Chevalier said, adding that salaries have increased as well because companies in highly paid sectors, such as consulting and marketing, want to attract Carlson graduates.

4. Use an internship to get a full-time job.

You should prepare well for your internship, as it may lead to a full-time job. Internships allow you to showcase your talents and network with executives who may later call you in for a full-time job. This year, Chevalier said, only two Carlson summer interns came back without full-time job offers. As of early November, 60 percent of the members of the class of 2012 have job offers.

5. Work with experts to get employed.

If internships don't lead to jobs, one option would be to seek coaching from a career expert. Carlson's employer relations experts coach students who are having a difficult time finding a job. They offer standard career coaching, Chevalier said, adding that they also come up with specific plans to connect these students with the companies they're interested in.

A business school success story

Second-year Carlson MBA Lindsay Amundson interned in brand management at Land O'Lakes during the 2011 summer and has already accepted a full-time job with the food and agricultural company headquartered in Arden Hills, Minn. Prior to business school, she worked as an auditor on retail and consumer products clients at PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC, in New York.

"I went to business school to make a career transition from accounting to marketing/general management," Amundson said. "The career center was integral to my job search success."

Amundson said she met regularly with career coaches; participated in marketing-specific mock interviews; and attended workshops on how to network, interview, and make the most of summer internships. She also attended networking receptions and a career fair. Amundson found her job on the career center's website and interviewed on campus for the position.

"Having a job lined up already is quite a stress relief in this economy and has allowed me to focus on my classes and take on various leadership roles this year instead of spending my time on the job search," she said.

Amundson's trajectory proves that learning as much as you can about the business school job search process and doing well in your internship pays — even in today's economy. And while the Carlson advice may not immediately lead to your coveted position, it could certainly move you closer to securing that desirable job. After all, the plan translated into job offers for nearly 100 percent of the 2011 class.

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