We are all hearing about (or even experiencing) the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and hiring. Consequently, many MBA students and graduates are asking difficult career questions. Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to your career in today’s market, we at mbaMission share our responses to four common questions below.
“Is it appropriate to network in today’s environment?” Yes—and it is more critical than ever before! However, setting the right tone in your networking is critical. Here are a few tips for formulating your approach:
- Connect with professionals with similar interests to build your network and develop your perspective on areas of interest as well as to position yourself for new job opportunities.
- Identify questions to ask that will lead to a robust and interesting conversation for both you and your contact.
- Lead with empathy. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone. Acknowledge the current situation and recognize your contact may be worried about their own job security. Do not ask for a job.
- Seek to understand your contact’s career path, ask questions about how their business is adjusting to the economic situation, and brainstorm ways for their company or industry to innovate and meet current challenges.
“Should I look for a new full-time job during a pandemic?” Yes, you can look for a new job, and some companies are still hiring—but consider why you are looking and assess the following factors when making your decision:
- Employer sector: What economic impact is your industry experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread stay-at-home guidelines?
- Employer response: How is your current employer responding to the challenges of this economy? What are the metrics of health for your employer?
- Personal reputation: Do you have strong advocates within your company? How strong are your previous performance reviews?
- Function and role: How critical is your role to the operation of your employer’s business?
- Career goals: What are your short- and long-term career goals? How does your current role fit into them? Are you still learning new things, tackling challenging problems, and building new skills?
“Can I still find an MBA summer internship?” We are seeing fewer internship postings now than we have in the past, but you can still create a meaningful summer experience.
- Clarify your career goals so you can identify interim steps or opportunities that move you toward those goals. This is not about abandoning your dreams but reimagining your path to achieving them.
- Reframe your expectations of what an internship experience is supposed to be. You just need an opportunity to learn and add value; you do not need 10+ weeks of experience or a structured program.
- Connect with your school’s career management office for insights on job generation efforts and/or programs to support students seeking internships. Participate in an online resume book.
- Consider your financial needs and compensation requirements. Do you have any flexibility in these areas?
- Build skills outside of hands-on work experiences. Take an online class or a certificate course in an area of interest to you or an area of value to your target market—perhaps Google Analytics, design thinking, SQL, or artificial intelligence (AI).
“How can I excel in a virtual internship (or job)?” Although a virtual role might not be your preferred working situation, you can still prove your value.
- Clarify expectations. Understand work hours, dress codes, preferred communication platforms and style, specific project assignments, available resources, and evaluation criteria.
- Practice engaging over video platforms. Gain comfort with the technology and its capabilities. Create an at-home workspace with limited distractions and an appropriate background.
- Deliver high-quality work. Prove that you understand the job and have the required skill sets for success. Build strong relationships with key decision makers.
- Reach out and ask for advice from mentors and advocates who work for your intern employer. Recognize most of the principles for internship success are the same whether you are working on-site or remotely.