Virtually every MBA program (with the notable exception of HBS, whose career-goals question is now optional) requires that candidates write an essay on short- and long-term career goals. We find that many candidates truly need an MBA to advance in their careers, but they still struggle to identify their personal post-MBA path(s). However, even those who are determinedly pursuing a specific position can still benefit from an informational interview or job shadowing — especially those entering competitive fields, such as banking or consulting. Because many candidates aspire to careers in these fields, the sincerity of your interest can make the difference.
So, what is an informational interview? Essentially, it is an interview arranged through your network, with someone who is in your proposed field of career-interest and in a post-MBA position. It can be as causal as a coffee or as formal as a meeting in the person’s office. Regardless of the venue, it is your mission to get to know the nuances of the position and gain a more profound understanding of what this person does each day, each month, each year. Further, your session should give you an opportunity to discover more about their industry and its hiring needs. Hopefully, you will end up not only understanding what you like/dislike about such a position, but will also be able todetermine whether you would be a fit for it.
So, what is job shadowing? Job shadowing is essentially a long informational interview, where you not only ask questions, but also follow the individual throughout the course of a half-day or a day to truly experience his/her position. Via this hands-on experience, you should have an even more nuanced view of your target position and thus should be able to write your essays with depth and confidence.