Many schools hold events – which may include treks to regions such as Silicon Valley, and confabs with alumni – during the winter break, providing networking opportunities for the job search, Saunders-Cheatham says.
There are a number of other tactics for identifying company contacts, including schools’ internal job boards, LinkedIn, and school alumni databases, she says.
Also, the break offers time for a crucially important task: updating and improving your LinkedIn profile. Any courses from the fall or planned for spring that are relevant to targets in the job search should be added, along with any relevant project work, she says. Keywords related to target jobs and industries are vital, she adds. “A lot of recruiters directly reach out to people with LinkedIn, using key words (to find prospects),” she says. In the digital age, the resume and application cover letter should also be seeded with the relevant keywords, she says.
‘THINK ABOUT HOW TO TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT’
LinkedIn’s profile summary should be completed, with text tailored toward the target career, she says, and students should spend some time thinking about “how to talk about what they’re looking for.” LinkedIn also provides a valuable resource for finding job postings, studying target firms, and making contact with people who work in them. Industry information and job offerings may be posted in LinkedIn groups, so those seeking internships and full-time positions should join groups relevant to their career planning, she says. Jobs websites such as SimplyHired and Indeed may contain leads for MBA candidates seeking internships or full-time positions, as may Twitter, Saunders-Cheatham notes. She suggests that people looking for opportunities in startups can find VC-firm job postings at ventureloop.com and angel.co.
Another task to accomplish during the break may be obtaining recommendation letters – these also gathered with an eye to specific positions or industries.
Students should waste no time in applying for positions and internships that interest them, because in spite of posted application deadlines, many firms interview on a rolling basis, and many positions are filled before the deadline expires, she says. “Ignore that deadline.”
Lest Saunders-Cheatham be taken for The Grinch, it’s important to note that she has a sense of reality, and some sympathy for the weary MBA candidate. “Sometimes people do want to take a break from everything, which is understandable, the school year is stressful,” she says. “I do advise that students take some time off for sure. In many cases you do have a month and you likely have some time to at least kind of map out what your job search strategy’s going to be for the spring semester, if nothing else. It’s just a good time to kind of get ahead, map out your strategy, network, have informationals, do your research on companies, apply for positions and internships.”