It is never too early to start thinking about your post-MBA career. Whether you are actively preparing for your MBA or planning to do so in the near future, we hope these tips from our alumni help you work towards achieving your career goals.

Top Career Tips from Our Alumni
Top Career Tips from Our Alumni

Tip #1: Start early.

Cameron Kraus, American, (MBA ‘10)
Pre-MBA: International Strategy and Investment Associate, Walt Disney Company — USA
Post-MBA: Corporate Banking, Citibank — Australia

“I started my job search long before my MBA at INSEAD, by doing some serious self-reflection on what I wanted to achieve. Getting a head start on my job search definitely helped! It gave me more time to participate in all the activities that took place on campus, many of which had an impact on my career-related decisions.

If you don't quite know what you want to do after the MBA, then pick something and seriously consider yourself in that career. Even if you decide to pursue a completely different path later, it always helps to have gone through the thought process early.

I started by talking to people about their jobs and career paths. The aim is to find out if this is something you want to do (not necessarily to see if they can help you get there). Keep a record of your career-related conversations and write down your impressions and questions after each conversation. This was immensely helpful for me and I still refer back to my little black notebook to things people told me over a year ago!”

“Create career plans to help you concentrate your efforts.”

Tip #2: Focus, focus…focus!

Sandra Cao, Canadian, (MBA ‘09)
Pre-MBA: Sales and Brand Unit Manager, Altria — USA
Post-MBA: Corporate Initiatives Manager (APAC), Estee Lauder — Hong Kong

“I have always been interested in international economic development. When I came to INSEAD, my long-term career objective was to build and eventually lead a social venture in Asia and so I thought I would be seeking opportunities in multilateral organisations. Yet, a part of me still truly enjoyed elements from my previous career in sales and marketing. I was undecided.

My interests are diverse — I am equally fascinated by organisational development, social impact and brand management. As I didn’t really have a focus, I applied to any job that touched one of my areas of interest. After many rounds of interviews across various industries, I was burnt-out and perhaps not as sharp as if I had been more focused. My advice is to create career plans to help you concentrate your efforts. These plans will keep your search structured and you will be certain of the goals you want to achieve.”

Tip #3: Craft your story.

Martin Peters, German, (MBA ‘12)
Pre-MBA: Strategy Manager, Microsoft — USA
Post-MBA: Associate, McKinsey & Company Inc. — Switzerland

“Most firms are not just looking for someone who can solve problems (most of you can or you would not be considering INSEAD!). Besides this, firms are looking for those who can communicate well in an articulate, concise and structured manner. They are looking for someone who can sit across from and engage comfortably with a General Manager or CEO of a firm.

My advice is to think about your goals and career objectives, about the person you are, about your skills and what you can offer. Now, craft your story. I strongly recommend focusing more on “how” you answer and engage with an interviewer, as opposed to “what” you answer. And of course, you should always self-monitor and adapt to specific situations; different anecdotes and responses work better at different times.

If you understand and know yourself well, your chances of success will be higher. The recipe for success is not a complicated one and a well-crafted story is an important ingredient.”

Tip #4: Build your network.

Ashley John, Indian, (MBA ‘12)
Pre-MBA: Product Manager, Abbott — Singapore
Post-MBA: Payer Partnerships Manager, Abbott Laboratories — Singapore

“There is a misconception that INSEAD, or an MBA, is a bridge to any job. Your previous career does still exist, so you need to be strategic about your decisions.

My advice is to start building your network as soon as possible as it takes time. Being in the programme gave me access to the resources I needed to accomplish this. I used the alumni network quite extensively and compiled a spreadsheet of who I wanted to speak with. You need to be well prepared both when contacting C-level alumni and those at a more junior level. Networking does not equate to securing a job but it certainly eases the path, and you learn a lot about the job (and yourself) along the way.

I would encourage you to make the most of any opportunity to reach out to business leaders as well. Be strategic in your approach — don’t ask for a job outright, but see where the conversation leads. The people you speak and meet with may become important to you two years down the road. As an MBA student, there are so many things in your favour. So don’t be afraid to take some chances — you’ll never know the outcome until you try!”

Besides these tips from our alumni, INSEAD’s Career Development team works in partnership with you to shape your career objectives and helps you develop a robust job search strategy. With access to INSEAD’s 50,000-plus strong alumni network, you will be fully equipped to take your career one step further.

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