Do These 4 Exercises Now to Crystallize Your Post-MBA Career Path

Determining Career GoalsThese days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even one industry throughout his or her entire professional life. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the skills and network to launch your career in a new direction, a popular way to do so is through an MBA program. In fact, by some estimates, two-thirds or more of graduating MBAs use the degree as a means of switching careers.

The skills typically strengthened during an MBA – leadership, intellectual creativity, analysis and critical thinking, cross-cultural awareness, communication, even greater IT mastery – will serve you well as you find your way toward your ultimate career goal.

But what if you’re having trouble distilling what that goal is? Julia Zupko, Assistant Dean for Career Development at the Yale School of Management, recently tackled this very topic.

Most people don’t spend enough time proactively managing their careers, and time and again Zupko has encountered applicants whose post-college career path was greatly influenced by family or friends, campus recruiting limitations, or the heavy burden of student loan debt.

Before you launch into the MBA admissions process, take time for some serious introspection to determine what you have liked or disliked about your professional experiences thus far. What awoke your passions or bored you to tears?

To help you with this process, Zupko recommends four exercises to get you thinking deeply about your post-MBA career goals:

At My Best
The At My Best exercise focuses on peak experiences—an amazing accomplishment you’re proud of, a transformational personal experience—where you’re at your best and fully leveraging your strengths.
Available through: StrengthsQuest Activity Workbook

Job Envy
Think about jobs you have heard about and think you would enjoy. After conducting the job envy exercise, you can review your notes to identify job themes.
Available through: Discovering Your Career in Business, Tim Butler and Jim Waldroop

Letters about You
Choose at least five people who know you really well to write a letter to you. Ask them to answer questions like: What would be the ideal career for you? What are your blind spots?
Available through: Discovering Your Career in Business, Tim Butler and Jim Waldroop

Decades of Gallup research have proved that when individuals have the opportunity to discover their natural talents and purposely develop them into strengths, the effect on individual and organizational performance is transformational.

You can take Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to discover your top five strengths. Your results will include a Signature Theme report detailing those top five strengths, what they mean, and how they are typically recognized and applied.
Available through:; $15 for assessment and bestselling StrengthsFinder 2.0 e-book

“While it may seem early, now is the time to catalogue those likes and dislikes, to read and learn more about positions you see in the employment reports of business school graduates, and to think deeply about yourself—what strengths you want to leverage in the future, what values and motivators are critical to you in your next position,” Zupko writes.

“Doing so will help you stay true to yourself as you pursue—and eliminate—some of the various career opportunities that will be available to you during your time in business school.”

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Ask Yourself 4 Questions Before Applying to Business School


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