I spent this morning having an interesting discussion with international MBA students about the current job environment. We had a broad discussion about the macro factors. They felt that traditional markets like financial services were flooded with resumes and it was hard to stand out. New sectors like green technology were attractive but hard to penetrate. MBAs are being considered too expensive and salary expectations have to be drastically reduced. Employers were not keen on spending money for sponsoring visa petitions. Internship opportunities were hard to come by. Given this macro setting, what should they do to prepare for the job market?
We discussed several strategies for this marketplace. The first one was to follow your passion. During normal circumstances job candidates follow the traditional and expected path. Under the current conditions one should seriously look at what they are passionate about and follow that even if it means that it doesn’t pay. This could result in a good learning experience and a career. Some of the companies that we admire today were founded during down times. Pick up some opportunities for voluntary or social work. The second thing we discussed was the importance of networking. Use every chance to be seen and heard. Within Babson and in the greater Boston area there are several seminars and networking events to attend. Some of the social networking tools like LinkedIn and Facebook can help. A key point of emphasis for me was to engage in conversations and articulate a point of view. Identify websites and blogs to read and follow. I encouraged them to join the conversation by starting their own blogs and tweeting. This will also help them build their point of view. Employers may find you or consider you more attractive if you have a trace of opinions and thoughts on the net. One idea that came out of the group was to use non-traditional approaches for meeting and accessing people. I hope some of the participants would share their approaches that others can learn from and use.
Overall, Babson students were upbeat and showed their entrepreneurial spirit in approaching the current environment. Every meeting I have with them leaves me very encouraged about the caliber of students that we have and the positive impact they will have in the marketplace.