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Job Expectations vs. Reality for MBA Grads

Jeroen Kemperman completed his MBA at IESE Business School with high hopes of founding a technology start-up. Within weeks, his venture, an online project management tool called Treeveo, had received funding and signed Hewlett-Packard as a customer.

Two-and-a-half years after launching, however, Kemperman’s model failed and his team was forced to close the business.

“When you see the company bank account go to zero you have to think of the alternatives,” he says.

The first job after completing an MBA is a big decision. Often times, MBA grads find themselves having to adjust their expectations and change course.

Jonathan Moules, a business correspondent at Financial Times, recently published a article discussing what happens when MBAs have second thoughts about their first career choices.

Change of mind

Jenny Portalska is the head of MBA careers at City University’s Cass Business School in London. Portalska tells Financial Times that roughly 30% of the university’s students change their minds about their target job before graduation.

“At some point over the year, [they] might get interested in something new,” Portalska says. “They explore the area and then find that there are elements about the profession that they aren’t as drawn to as they thought.”

The numbers aren’t new. According to data released exclusively to Poets & Quants from TransparentCareer, a career platform specifically for MBAs, 87% of MBAs switch either functions or industries in their jobs directly before and after B-school.

Expectations vs. reality

Jane Barrett is co-founder of The Career Farm, a coaching service that works with business schools. Barrett tells Financial Times that the main reason why many students fail to meet their first-choice job expectation is because they put too much emphasis on the “type of the company they want to work for and not enough on their suitability for specific roles.”

Barrett recommends students list out and rank in preference what they seek from a job. For example, desired salary level, status, and recognition. She then suggests students reach out to individuals, who are already in desired fields, for help. Knowing what you want to talk about, Barrett says, is most important when networking.

“A lot of people go into networking meetings and think it is just having a chat,” she tells Financial Times. “Don’t let them talk about anything they want to. Draw up a list of questions.”

Moving on from fear of rejection

For Kemperman, the failure of Treeveo was an important stepping stone. He says he has no regrets about the experience. He’s moved on.

Almost a year before Treeveo was forced to close, a former classmate of Kemperman recommended him for a project management role at Google. After coming to the realization that Treeveo would no longer be a reality, Kemperman decided to apply for the Google position.

“There was this part of me that had a fear of being rejected,” he tells Financial Times, noting that he didn’t even tell close friends about Treeveo’s failure until securing the Google role

Now with a steady income, Kemperman says he has found his calling and couldn’t be happier.

“I am really 100 per cent surprised and super-happy that I made it here,” he says.

Sources: Financial Times, Poets & Quants

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