An Open Letter to First Year MBA students

Hi Folks,

I understand that you are steadily making a transition from whatever you were doing professionally, to now pursuing an intense academic program. I am sure you must be feeling time pressed; while the number of assignments, readings, frameworks, and concepts continues to be on the rise. I hope you have enough activities though, through clubs, errands & sports to burn off some steam.

Today, I thought of sharing an insight, to aid you in your career pursuit. My insight is – imagine yourself as a product or a service. For here, employers are hiring human capital more than human beings!

So, my dear friends, the million $ question is –

How does one position oneself in a market, which is witnessing exponential growth in the supply of highly skilled workforce, which is competing for great but limited opportunities (Schulich, UFT, Ivey, Queen et.)

I am pretty sure you would have gone through an exercise during the orientation week, where you were asked to describe your special powers or how you are different. I admit, for me, it was always a mind tiring exercise. Now here is where you can use your MBA skills.

Perform a SWOT on yourself. Be very open and honest with yourself. Then look at what you want to do after your MBA. Yes, knowing that is also difficult for most of us. I am not asking you to narrow it down to a role, but you might know which industry interests you and which does not. Identify the gaps between where you are (SWOT) and where you want to be.

Once you have identified these gaps, see what you can do about it during the MBA program. Clubs, blogging, reading, etc. While you start filling those gaps, do start working on your “personal brand” as well. Use the MBA superpowers and apply the 5P lens on yourself.

1. Promotion: Create a consistent story and start promoting it, on your social media channels. Start with the “why” and create an emotional connection. Build a social media presence around you like a moat of crocodiles around a castle. Each social media site is very particular in its usage and audience. Make sure you understand how to use it correctly. If you are saying you are a “Technology Evangelist,” do exactly that, across these media channels. Keep sharing and openly discussing topics. Don’t wander around. Focus on an area – don’t say “I know Artificial Intelligence,” say “This is a new development that I see in computational linguistics.” Over time, you will start receiving attention from the right audience. But you got to start now.
2. People: Have your story be attested by practitioners. Focus on one target segment and add them through the Alumni channel and expand your network. If you get your “promotion” correct, people will be interested in you and will be happy to connect with you on LinkedIn. Associate yourself with the right set of people over social media. If you see someone criticize something that you follow, then please have an open civil discussion with him or her. Show that you stand for what you believe in. Also, be unconditionally considerate to everyone, regardless of who they are or what their position is.
3. Place: Join Meetup groups, Slack groups and Professional Organizational Groups from your industry. Actively participate in these discussions and make your mark.
4. Product: Be credible. I believe this is key. Understand what is happening in your industry of interest. Follow trends and news. Industry professionals can easily spot B.S when they see it. So, make sure you are what you claim to be.
5. Price: Once a Professor told us that what we get is not what we deserve but what we ask for. Your value is how you project yourself.

It does sound a little like “fake it till you make it” right? But please remember that even though you may start on thin ice, but by commitment, persistence and curiosity, in the end, you will become consistent with your story. The whole process is continuous and never-ending. People just make it a part of their life.

Word of Advice: I am yet to see how effective this strategy is; for I also am a work in progress. The little success I have witnessed is when my blog posts on LinkedIn help me drive conversations, during interviews and networking sessions. By driving conversations, I am projecting and showcasing my awesomeness to its full extent. I used my blog as a platform for that. Your platform could be something else. That is for you to discover.

Check out Nabeel Adani from our cohort to see how one can use Social Media to build a brand.

If this appealed to you, here is another easy follow up reading

Good Luck!

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