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MBAs leaping into new careers

10 June 2016

The article at a glance

The ‘triple jump’, changing sector, location and job function, is one of the most ambitious things an MBA can hope for – …

The ‘triple jump’, changing sector, location and job function, is one of the most ambitious things an MBA can hope for – so how have 40 per cent of the recent Cambridge MBA cohort made it happen?

MBAs leaping into new careers

Time to evaluate

Shelley Hogg, Head of Careers Development says “The year at business school gives you a chance to really think about who you are and what you want. I don’t think there are many other times in your career when there are so many people willing to give you frank and constructive feedback.”

While many students approach business school with very clear aims about their future career, many are open to new opportunities and are looking for inspiration for their next step. During projects such as the Cambridge Venture Project and Global Consulting Project, many students choose to experience sectors or locations they haven’t had exposure to before, and some make such a positive impact with project clients that these projects lead to job opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have secured.

A journey is made of many steps

Often students are successful at using relevant knowledge from an industry they are already familiar with, which means they don’t have to build a completely new foundation when moving sector or role. For example, Cambridge MBA alumna Carolina Serra went from being an Innovations Strategy Specialist in a utility company in Rome, to working as a Senior Research Associate at Sanford Bernstein in London. She landed this role after starting as an intern in their European Utilities Scheme, using the experience she had from working in the oil and gas sector.

One thing leads to another…

Russian alumna Vera Vasilyeva says “I was looking to change one of the things, which was either the firm that I work for, the function or probably the location. I ended up changing all three.” Vera previously worked in telecommunications in Moscow, and following an employer presentation at the School where she met a number of American Airlines employees, she applied for, and subsequently got onto, their MBA Marketing and Strategy track, in London.

“When I was doing my MBA, I tried to benefit from all the opportunities the Careers Office and School in particular were offering. So I attended individual sessions with career coaches, I did career treks, and used all the advice available to develop my CV and cover letter.”

A personalised careers service

Shelley Hogg says “It can be difficult to focus, particularly in a place like Cambridge where so many opportunities present themselves. But we’re here to help students define their goals and give them practical guidance on how to achieve them. ”

The Careers team work in partnership with students on a programme which fits their individual needs, and delivers the broad range of skills needed to achieve their goals. It is this personal approach which allows students to find roles which they wouldn’t have otherwise considered without such self-assessment or opportunities to meet employers.

At Cambridge we deliver the skills and mindset to enable our graduates to achieve career switches continually throughout their future career – not just immediately after their MBA. The business world is changing rapidly and we equip students to be resilient, adaptable and confident to move across sectors and roles potentially numerous times as they progress.

It takes time and energy to make a drastic career change, and even more so if you trying to completely transform all three. However, if you are open to opportunities, engage fully with the MBA careers development programme on offer, and leverage the experience you have, a triple jump is entirely possible, as last year’s Cambridge MBA cohort have clearly demonstrated.