Alumni Insights: The MBA and Career Acceleration

Recently, the St. Kate’s MBA program held an alumni panel to provide provide current students with the benefit of advice from four recent graduates who used their MBAs. All panelists have changed jobs since completing their MBAs. From external job searches to pursuing new opportunities within existing organizations, the panelists brought a wide array of real-world examples of how the St. Kate’s MBA empowered them to accelerate their careers.

The panelists were Lori Maddox, Amanda Bartschenfeld, Kelly Robertson, and Katie Jones. Here are just a few of their invaluable insights that they provided during the event.

Q: Completing an MBA is a notable accomplishment. Describe how the attainment of the degree affected you personally? How did this factor into your approach as you looked at career options and opportunities?

Kelly: “I am much more confident. I have a healthcare background, so I already knew the medical side of it, but I didn’t know the financial side. The MBA has helped me look at everything differently. I now ask better questions because I know what to ask. I couldn’t do this before.”

Amanda: “I can now speak confidently. It’s a different language in CEO-land and I can now hold my own. St. Kate’s gave that to me. We were in a cohort of supportive women with great professors. We learned how to speak up and we learned how to express ourselves with executives.”

Lori: “The St. Kate’s MBA helped me find my voice. I think differently now. I am not bringing problems to my management. I bring ideas.”

Lori: “I learned something about myself. In the job search it is important to know what you value most and to walk yourself through that. We had courses that helped with that. I found I wanted to help people in an organization think outside the box. I wanted to be the facilitator and now that’s exactly what I do.”

Q: Based on your experience in the time surrounding your graduation (pre/post), what career search advice do you have for our soon-to-graduate MBA students?

Amanda: “Use your cohort. Pump each other up and help each other out. If your company has a job opening or opportunity, let the members of your cohort know.  This happened with us, we would text each other and people would think of you when something came up. Your cohort is a great resource.”

Amanda: “Start your search before you graduate. It is never too early to start. Go on as many informational interviews as you can. This is key. Inside your organization and outside your organization. This broadens your business acumen and helps you understand what’s out there and where you might fit in. Let them know you are getting your MBA. What happened to me was I let people in my company know I was getting my degree and when a job opened up, I got tapped for it because the hiring manager heard about my education and about my MBA.”

Lori: “Build relationships. This is key. Both inside your organization and outside your organization.”

Katie: “Think 5-10 years out. Where do you want to be? Where do you see yourself? Then identify the steps you need to take now to get there. As one of our professors taught us (Mark Grenfell), think forward and reason backwards.”

Kelly: “If your field has a professional organization, join it. You meet people from all different companies. I met a lot of people this way and set up time with anybody I could. I let people know I was getting my degree and asked if they would be willing to serve as a mentor. I just asked if they would be willing to meet or check in once per month. It is surprising how many people will say ‘yes” and how willing they are to help.”

Katie: “The MBA office at St. Kate’s is great. Call Michelle, she is willing to work with you. She has a lot of experience with career planning and she helped me prepare for my interviews. She gave me a lot of great ideas that I used in my interviews and I think that made a big difference.”

Q: What is an appropriate salary to ask for? Did you negotiate your pay? If so, explain your strategy and the results of your efforts.

Katie: “you probably won’t get what you ask for, but they want you to ask and remember, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.”

Amanda: “I looked on Glassdoor to understand the range of salaries for the type of job and job title I was looking for, so I went in prepared. What I was offered was on the high side of the range and I think it was the MBA that did that for me.”