Listen to MBA Career Advice from These USC Marshall MBA Alumni
How does an MBA fit into your career? What are some steps you should take to ensure that your MBA aligns with your career goals? These are the questions that four MBA alumni seek to answer in the two-part Constructing a Career Podcast from the USC Marshall School of Business.
In the first part of the podcast, listeners hear from Doug Montgomery, the VP of customer insight at Warner Brothers, as well as Regina Leung, the founder of Mayflower Health Consulting. They each take the time to talk about pursuing an MBA no matter the stage of your career, providing tips and lessons learned along the way.
The second part talks about how an MBA can and should impact your job strategy. Advice is provided by Ana Maria Stingi Guemáraes, the audit director of MUFG Union Bank, and Grant Ingersoll, the president of Integrated Oncology Network.
All four are graduates of USC’s IBEAR MBA program, which gives them unique insight into using the USC Marshall MBA in your future career. Below are some of the most pertinent points and insight from both podcasts.
Plan Your Career Carefully
According to Montgomery, planning your career is like playing a game of golf. You don’t have to plan out every move on the green ahead of time, but you should think at least two steps ahead. When you take a shot or make a move, think about how it will set you up for the next step.
A strategy is key. Leung always keeps an eye on her end goal, where she wants to be at the end of her career, and then makes decisions along the way that help her reach that ultimate goal. However, she’s fully aware that it can take a while to figure out what your end goal is and to start working toward it. There’s some trial and error involved in the process, but as long as you’re working toward something you’re good at and that you enjoy, you’re on the right path.
Don’t Expect a Straight Career Path
“Your path is unlikely to be straight, and you don’t know where it’s going to go,” said Montgomery. “But, if you work hard and plan out your career, you can get to where you want.”
For Leung, career planning is as much art as science. She had to explore many different perspectives and opportunities while working to figure out where she ultimately wanted to be. But once she determined what she enjoyed, she started planning her next steps.
Take Advantage of Your MBA
The important thing to understand is how your MBA can benefit you for years to come. Not only did Montgomery find his Warner Bothers job by using the USC job board, but even years later, he can recognize how his MBA has helped him gain promotions and new opportunities.
For those looking for a job, an MBA can be the quickest way to be filtered into the pile of resumes that actually get reviewed. At the end of the day, top companies receive hundreds of resumes and people do quick and fast look to see who they want to consider. An MBA can help you stand out.
An MBA can also help open up new opportunities for different careers. If you come from a non-business background, there can limited opportunities available. For Leung, she started in research but wanted something different. The only way to move into marketing was to gain necessary business knowledge. An MBA was her stepping-stone to a new career path.
Not All Job Choices Are Smart
“At the end of the day, you don’t want to take a step that deviates from your goal,” Leung said. “As you get a little more seasoned into your career, those steps you take need to be careful.”
Unless you want to change your career completely, make sure you can utilize your experience in your future career. Leung turned down an exceptional entertainment business job offer after her MBA internship because it didn’t follow her chosen career path. In the end, it was the right choice, no matter how difficult the decision at the time.
A Career Is Not Set in Stone
For Guemáraes, having the right to change her mind about her career path and to choose something different is important. She feels that everyone should have the opportunity to do whatever they want. If you’re not interested or you feel there is something more out there for you, you can look for something new. Either you embrace the career you don’t enjoy, or you can make a career change.
You’re in Charge of Your Career
There are no hot jobs for a career, according to Ingersoll. There are a lot of opportunities to find jobs, but a career is something you have to find yourself. You have to manage your own career. Figure out what you want to do and go after it, or you’re going to be stuck as a person who hates their career.
Forge your own path, everyone is different and wants different things. It’s up to you to guide the direction of your career. Think about what you want to do and then start looking for job opportunities in that direction.
“You only get one life to live. It’s up to you to make the most of that life,” said Ingersoll. “If you want to make the most of your life, spend the most time that you can doing what you want to do.”
Decide What Success Looks Like
There are all sorts of retirement commercials about what success looks like, but Ingersoll reminds you that what you want is different than what someone else wants. Figure out what success looks like to you and then go for it.
The truth is that there are no guarantees in a career, but you can set yourself up for success with the right planning. Ingersoll recommends networking, taking classes to get the skills you need, and telling other people what you want to do so they can help you along the way.
For Guemáraes, success is working for a company that does meaningful things. She wants to be able to touch people in a way that makes a difference. Yes, you have to keep in mind earning money and making a living, but make sure it’s something you want. Only then will you be happy with the results and feel successful.
“A career is a progression that a person has in contributing to society in a way that they feel fit to do,” explained Guemáraes. “You start figuring it out, and then you embrace it, so at the end of your life, you can look back and say, ‘This is how I contributed, and I’m happy about it.’”
To hear all of the advice first-hand, visit the USC Marshall podcast page for the Business Class Podcast. Additional “Constructing a Career” podcasts will be released in the coming weeks and months.