The next MBA application deadline is March 25.

Career

Five Tips From the Career Development Office to Prepare For Your MBA

by Tiffany Stott

Once you decide to earn an MBA at Rice Business, it’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and nerves about the transformative experience ahead. Luckily, our Career Development Office (CDO) has some practical steps to help you channel your energies and get a jump start before you even step foot on campus.

Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers coming in. In fact, an open mind can be an important asset. But the more thought and research you have done ahead of time, the faster you may be able to narrow your focus. Ultimately, you will be the driver of this experience. So be proactive, and know we are here to support and guide you.

Check out our five tips to prepare for getting a job after graduating from the Full-Time MBA program at Rice Business:

1. Take Inventory

Before you dive in, think about your personal career goals. What’s driving you to get an MBA? Are you looking for leadership opportunities? Career advancement? A pivot to a new industry? Check out this post published in HBR Ascend for some common “whys” (as well as some less helpful motivators).

If you are changing industries or roles, remember you have transferable skills that are absolutely going to be marketable and valuable. Go over past reviews and make note of what managers highlight as your strengths. Ask yourself, what did I enjoy in my past work experience?  What is most important to me for my career? Is it financial security, work culture, ability to have an international career?

There are multiple resources available that can be helpful such as “What Color is Your Parachute?”, a book by Richard N. Bolles. During your commute or while you go for a walk, take a listen to an episode or two from a career development podcast.

2. Explore and Stay Flexible

Start exploring and expanding your expertise before you arrive on campus. Interested in finance? Add The Wall Street Journal to your reading list. Curious about recruiting topics and trends? Consult publications like Poets&Quants. Note any skills or requirements that could enhance your competitiveness as a candidate.

Check out #2 on this list from Harvard Business School Online's Business Insights for recommended reading material about leadership and problem-solving — two important focal points of MBA programs.

And remember: You may come into our MBA program thinking you want to pursue investment banking, for example — only to take a class that sparks a great entrepreneurial idea and find yourself making an exciting pivot. Be open. The experience is meant to be transformative. The more you know about all your options, the better you can prepare.

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3. Plan to Maximize Our CDO Resources

Get to know our resources and programming for prospective students as well as our suite of offerings for full-time MBA students and alumni. Before classes begin, you will take our comprehensive online career development course, which covers foundational information about our office, recruiting information, a career assessment, resume prep and more.

As an MBA student, you will gain access to robust career development services and programming, including career education workshops, networking events and employer engagement opportunities. Our long-standing relationships with alumni, as well as a spectrum of Fortune 500 organizations and professional service firms, can help you make crucial industry connections.

The dedicated CDO team will be one of your most valuable tools as you move through the program. Plan to develop a strong relationship with your career advisor — this is someone who will know and care about your unique story and who wants to help you succeed.

Rice provided me with the resources and the network I needed to grow my career.

Kehinde Opatola

Full-Time MBA

Kehinde Opatola MBA '22


4. Know Your Recruiting Timelines and Requirements

There are various recruiting timelines that will be pertinent to you. It’s important to be proactive, do your research and plan ahead.

For example, investment banking and consulting recruiting often start early, so be prepared to jump in quickly in the fall. Conferences focused on recruiting diverse talent can start early as well and cover a wide array of sectors. In general, recruiting for health care, technology and startups may be more concentrated in the spring. (There are some summer opportunities for engagement and recruitment if you’re part of Forté or The Consortium. Also, some companies might have an application “summit” or similar event over the summer for early branding – and opportunities may happen from that.)

These timelines, however, are merely broad guidelines. Companies can adhere to different recruiting schedules, so it’s key to verify your targets. Once you start the program, your career advisor can also help you understand where you fall in the process.

Keep in mind some recruiters, particularly in investment banking and consulting, may require GMAT or GRE test scores to apply. Consider taking the tests before you join if you want to pursue that path and do not have test scores already.

Check out this CDO blog post for more in-depth ways to prepare for recruiting.

5. Ready Your Mindset

Earning your MBA at Rice Business will be an exciting time in your life. You’ll be in a position to be thoughtful about your career and take ownership of where it’s headed. Yes, you will work hard and the recruiting process can be rigorous. But, you're also going to have many incredible opportunities to explore what’s possible and connect with your classmates.

Once you launch, take a moment to remember you're here for a reason. You have unique talent and value to share. When we say, you belong here, we mean it.

Tiffany Stott is director, career education and advising, in the Career Development Office at Rice Business.

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