Finding a job with my MBA


The second term of my MBA ends in 3 months, at which point I will have crossed the halfway mark, completing 12 of the required 20 courses (with another mandatory course to be completed in the spring, reducing my second year course load to only 7 classes). At this point, my classmates and I are looking for summer jobs. Because our second year course load is almost exclusively during the evening, we will have the opportunity to continue to work full-time after the summer is over while completing the final course requirements of our program.

As a result, I’m now looking for my full-time MBA job.


I felt hopeless when looking at the job postings on the school career website. Ironically, that’s exactly where I found my old job, but for some reason I get the feeling that I won’t be that lucky twice. I’ve more or less decided to forego the apply-online method and drum up opportunities elsewhere.

I talk a lot about managing your career on this website because it’s often your primary source of income, so you want to make sure it delivers — financially and otherwise. I don’t think many twenty-somethings realize their potential, or think seriously about the direction they want their career to take. They don’t even think about what they want their average day to look like. Instead, they just seek out the best paying job they can manage and hope it progresses upward-ish.

Of all the things in your life, please take your job seriously. 

I’m a firm believer that finding a job in your twenties should be more about where you want to be in five years, rather than the immediate need you want it to fill right now.

Unfortunately, this will make it much harder to find one. I can speak from painful experience, since I’m haemorrhaging money so fast, the panic I feel when I look at my bank accounts is tempered only by the dull memory that I once earned a good salary and there’s hope of that happening again. Honestly, this blog is the only evidence I have that living above the poverty line was a real thing that happened to me once, since I spend at least 2/3rds of every month now in serious doubt that I will be able to afford my rent. The other 1/3rd of the month, when I have managed to afford rent, I worry incessantly if I will be able to afford both rent AND food. Living as a student is, on no uncertain terms, financially agonizing in a way I probably haven’t ever felt before. But I’m trying to keep my chin up.

I feel I’m in a unique position with my almost-MBA: a blank slate. Even though I’ve already logged a couple of years of professional work experience on my resume, going back to school has reset the game. I can pursue management consulting or investment banking or marketing. I can work in the oil & gas industry or advertising or go back to academia. I can crunch numbers or write or do stakeholder & public relations.

When ever I feel overwhelmed by the number of choices I have, I remind myself to take a moment to be grateful for so much opportunity.

I know many of my peers are unemployed or underemployed or employed in a job they hate or don’t want or whatever. I have the chance to seek out something amazing unencumbered.

I’ve updated my resume to reflect my current program, new volunteer position, and a few other details, so I’m ready to start the job hunt. However, going forward there’s a few things I need to figure out first:

What do I want to do?

What am I good at?

Where would I like to work?

Who would I like to work for/with?

What kind of schedule/workload do I want?

Where do I want my career to lead and how quickly do I want to advance?

and of course:

How much do I deserve to be paid?

I’ll keep you posted over the next few months. Wish me luck!

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14 Comments. Leave new

  • Wonderful questions that you are asking yourself! I asked myself a lot of the same ones when I was applying to the job I have now. What type of job did I want that would give me the time to do other things. Hopefully it all comes together and you do have luck a second time around!

  • “How much do I deserve to get paid?”, IMO, is the wrong question. I’ve seen a lot of people become very resentful because they feel they should be getting paid more.

    The right questions are “how much is someone willing to pay me right away and what will I do to advance quickly?”.

    How much you deserve to be paid and how much people are willing to pay you can be the same, but more often than not, they are on opposite ends of the scale. I’m certainly one of those people who thinks they should be paid more!

    • Maybe, but many young people don’t know how to properly negotiate their salaries. Sometimes you can get thousands of dollars more just for asking. I have a rough idea of what I’m worth because I have some work experience behind me, but I also have more education now and am living in a city notorious for high wages. How much I can ask for will depend on the industry I apply to and how well my skill set matches up to the job description.

      • Aim high! I am currently in a clinical psychology graduate program and recently learned that females in my field who go into academia make significantly less than males and it’s not because the universities are being sexist, it’s because when women are asked what their expected salary is they report numbers that are consistently lower than what men say when asked the same question!
        The same thing is happening to women who go into private practice, they are setting reliably lower rates than men and thus earning lower salaries.
        Just something to consider as a female entering the workforce, don’t undersell yourself!

  • I’m so glad that you have work experience between your undergrad and your MBA. I know a lot of people who went straight through to their MBA, and they have no experience, but two back-to-back degrees. I think those few professional years in between will help immensely when you’re now looking for jobs Good Luck!

    (I realize I say that with a slightly hypocritical edge to it, because I did go straight through, undergrad to grad school (science), but that is generally viewed slightly differently. That being said, it was hard to bust out of my PhD without having a lot of work experience on a resume/CV)

    • One of my friends did a BSc, MSc then PhD, and is now in his MBA. I wonder what his job hunt is going to look like =\

      I’m really glad I have some work experience. It’s particularly valuable just because now I have professional references. I’d be terrified to try to find a job with nothing!

  • “I’m a firm believer that finding a job in your twenties should be more about where you want to be in five years, rather than the immediate need you want it to fill right now.” I agree, but I think it’s so difficult in this market. People literally can’t afford not to take work, even if it isn’t where they want to be in five years.

    • I’m not saying don’t work, I’m just saying don’t take a job that’s a 1-year maternity contract and sit back & relax. Everyone has to pay the bills, and so you should always have a full-time job, but when looking for your career you have to be focusing on the right things!

  • With regards to the comment about the MBA providing a blank-slate, I’m not sure this is accurate for the majority. I work in investment banking, and it would be extremely unlikely for our firm (or others for that matter) to hire someone with unrelated prior experience but a great MBA degree. I know of some smaller IB firms that hire unpaid interns for 8-12 mos as a way to get in, but most have prior experience and/or CPA, CA, etc. I would suspect that is true for the finance industry as a whole, unless of course you want to start at the bottom as an analyst with undergrads. Management consulting is easier, but I think it is because these firms tend to appreciate diversity of experience and education, over a requirement for an MBA.

    The notion that the MBA is a great tool for switching careers and industries is not as accurate as the schools selling them would have you believe (most claim 50%). Sure, there are the 5-10% of grads that have great success stories for the B-schools to market, but what about the rest? It just doesn’t seem like there are enough managment jobs in the corporate world despite the explosion in enrollment.

    • Really? Investment banking is one of the most aggressive recruiters at our school, and at least 1/3 of my class is considering that career path. They haven’t been turned away or discouraged despite having backgrounds in psychology, pharmacy, engineering, etc. Would it make sense to go back for an undergraduate degree if you wanted to pursue investment banking?

      I can’t predict the career success of my classmates yet. Calgary is a bit of an advantage because it has the highest concentration of corporate offices in Canada and there’s a lot of job opportunities right now.

      • Didn’t realize you were Calgary – it could be true that IBGs are growing faster out there due to resource industries. I’m in Toronto and NY is pretty similar as well. I also think getting recruited and getting a contract are very different things, with the latter being much harder in the case of IB.

        I would never recommend another undergrad. I have seen it a lot where people end up doing more school becuase they think they got the first degree choice wrong or discovered a new passion, but can’t get a job in their desired field. The act of going back to school (another undergrad, masters, etc.) makes the problem worse over time, maybe not for them, but it will in the future.

        IMO it would be best to continue working and networking like crazy, while completing a credential in your new (desired) field or do an MBA but make sure you’re in the 80th percentile at a top school.

        I think you are bang on about Calgary though. Ontario faces a lot of headwinds, especially as some of its most enterprising talent continues to move West. Best of luck.

  • This is really exciting! I hope you tell us more about it, but you do a very good job of keeping this blog professional and not overly personal. It’s a good thing, but I like to be nosy.

    When I was moving, getting an MBA was something I considered to help with a career change. Ultimately, I decided it was “too late” for a standard MBA and too early for the executive programs, so I saw what I could do without it. It was hard, though networking only, and I didn’t get into a top top firm – but I was able to break into consulting with an engineering background and no MBA. I still want to do an exec. one someday.

    • Totally agree. I got an interview with an MBB firm a couple years back with an undergrad. The key was networking like crazy and strong recommendations. My friend is in charge of campus recruiting for them now, and he said they filter out 99.9% of MBAs before the interviews, basically they all look the same. They hire 1, maybe 2, depending on the year from a good MBA program.

  • I have a question for you. How do you know where to move to for a job? My bf has an opportunity to go to alberta and make a great wage, do apprenticeship ( make even better) and quality of life will be better (pay off debt, travel, save more etc) as well less taken off your paycheque, less tax (5%) among other benefits of Alberta. He also has an opportunity here in Manitoba but not as gd wage and in Manitoba more comes off your paycheque so really your making less then your wage with all the deductions. What would you do? Chase the Alberta dream (more financial security) or stay with your home province (close to family but not a lot of financial security) basically enough for bills and not a lot of fun…


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