Thursday, June 27, 2013

Notes from the Career Services Q&A with Claire Lecoq

Yesterday I attended the Q&A session with Claire Lecoq, IMD's director of Career Services. There was a lot of useful information about how IMD helps students in their career pursuits, the benefits of the IMD MBA to students and recruiters, and what students should be thinking about as they go into their MBA.

During the first part of the session, Claire gave a quick presentation highlighting some of the features of IMD's career services approach. For the remainder of the session Claire fielded questions. 

Both the presentation and the Q&A revealed some interesting themes about IMD's career services, and how to successfully maximize the benefits of the MBA when it comes to the job search career management.

See below for my best shot at summarizing the session.

Claire covered four topics during her presentation, before answering the participants' questions. Here is the breakdown:

  • Trends for IMD MBAs

Claire highlighted a couple of the latest hiring trends for IMD MBAs.

The first trend she showed is that more IMD graduates are choosing not to stay in Europe. Particularly, IMD's presence in Asia and in the Middle East has grown exponentially. She emphasized that IMD has been ranked #1 by the Financial Times when it comes to international mobility.

The second trend is IMD's strength in placing students into different sectors within Industry (rather than Consulting or Finance/Banking). The trend is that IMD is "specializing" more and more. IMD students have increasingly chosen to go into Industry over the years.
  • How IMD Career Services works, and what kinds of things they do for the MBAs

Claire walked through the activities related to career services IMD students have access to. She explained how career services are an integrative part of the curriculum at IMD -  meaning the preparation for the job search starts from day one and there are numerous opportunities and events all year round.

Here are some of the opportunities she highlighted:

   - Workshops and training sessions throughout the year

   - Panel discussions

   - Personalized career counseling, including sessions with external professionals

   - Advising on sectors and companies

   - IMD constantly works to build relationships with companies and recruiters

   - Career services facilitates on-campus recruiting and job postings

   - Executives from companies in IMD's network are often on campus for events such as Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP)

   - Career services puts together the Class Profiles and CV books to showcase the MBAs to potential employers

   - MBAs have access to alumni network and alumni mentors

   - Career "clusters" where students with similar interests (e.g. a certain sector) can work in groups to facilitate their job search.

  • What the year at IMD looks like, from a careers perspective

Claire briefly explained the flow of the year, as far as the job search goes. The first half of the year seems to be focused on self-understanding and preparation:

   - The first activity the MBAs will engage in is a self-assessment, to help narrow down career objectives so MBAs can be more focused on their approach

   - Students have a series of individual meetings with Career Services and Career Counselors to discuss objectives, progress, and identify areas to work on.

   - Career Services works with students to put together the Class Profiles.

At the same time, students are exposed to the "job search toolbox"

   - How to write motivation/cover letters and CV/resume.

   - Interview training and workshops

   - Networking

   - Discovering and researching functions and sectors.

The second half of the year is more focused on the actual job search and networking:

   - MBAs have an opportunity to go on Student Treks (specifically, IMD organizes treks to Asia and the Middle East, although I got the impression it may be possible to orchestrate treks to different areas as well).

   - Company presentations

   - Career fairs

   - Networking with executives

   - On-campus recruiting and first round interviews.

  • What recruiter expectitons are, and recommendations for incoming MBAs

Claire touched on what recruiters expect from the IMD MBAs:

   - Recruiters know IMD has a slightly older, more mature class than most schools, so they expect more experienced, mature and well-behaved individuals

   - Companies expect IMD MBAs to be self-starters who are able to hit the ground running, quickly make a difference and take on a leadership role

   - Recruiters view IMD MBAs as individuals with strong leadership potential who demonstrate self-awareness, strategic thinking and solid personal ethics

   - Recruiters appreciate IMD's international environment and expect the IMD MBAs to be able to excel in a global career, working across countries and cultures

Claire also briefly discussed Career Services recommendations for the incoming MBAs, which I thought was a particularly helpful part of the presentation:

   - The job search is a joint team effort at IMD. To be most successful, students must take advantage of IMD's resources and alumni network together

   - Students must take ownership for their career management and job search. Ultimately, it is the student's job to know what he/she is looking for, and do the work throughout the year to land a position that accomplishes their goals

   - Students should be prepared to start early, and be constantly thinking about the job search and their objectives throughout the year

   - "Network, network and network"

   - Students are expected to manage the academic workload with the job search, and strike the right balance

  • Q & A session

Finally Claire opened up the call to questions from the audience. Here are some of the topics covered:

   - Sometimes students will have specific interests outside of IMD's "usual" recruiting companies, such as non-profits, or a specific geography. Claire emphasized that, once again, it is up to the student to make sure they do their research, understand the industry/sector, organization and function they choose to go into. IMD does have the means to facilitate meetings with alumni and executives, and help steer students in the right direction, but the student must do a lot of the work as well.

   - Due to the fact that IMD's student body is generally older, with more work experience than those of other schools, their pre-MBA experience is an important factor in their job search. IMD's recruiters expect MBAs to come in and make an impact right away - which is easier to do successfully when students' previous experience fits in well with the new role.

   - There is a fairly wide range in the type of role and level IMD graduates can get into. For those who are older, and have a lot of relevant experience prior to their MBAs, they can go in at a higher level of seniority right away. Those that are younger, or changing industry and function may come in at a lower level position, perhaps a rotational program. But they are still seen as "high-potential" and expected to be talented, strategic and contribute quickly.

   - It's never too early to start preparing for the job search. Even before the program, it is worth spending time really thinking about what it is that you are looking to get out of the program, and what career you want to get into. It doesn't hurt to polish the resume, start reaching out to your network, and stay on top of learning about the industry and companies you are interested in.

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