Adding Value to Your Career Through an EMBA

Wharton’s unique career programming helps you navigate through stages of discovery, exploration, and actualization.

Tune in to our webinar to learn how Wharton’s EMBA Career Team will help you develop your personal brand and teach you how to manage your career for the rest of your life. Executive Career Directors Dr. Dawn Graham (Philadelphia) and Steve Hernandez (San Francisco), along with the Directors of Admissions Diane Sharp (Philadelphia) and Barbara Craft (San Francisco), will discuss:

  • How career management fits into your two-year Wharton EMBA journey
  • The specific career programming and dedicated coaching offered
  • What makes Wharton’s EMBA career resources unique

Navigating the Wharton EMBA Career Journey

Dr. Dawn Graham: Director of Career Management, Philadelphia

Steve Hernandez: Director of Career Management, San Francisco


Dawn: We strive to help our EMBA students learn the skills to manage their careers throughout a lifetime. One of the things we know about the Wharton degree is that it really impacts every aspect of your professional life, so we want you to understand how to use your strengths and how they apply to the current market. We want you to be able to build a brand that resonates with you and your target audience and to leverage the Wharton network, which is one of the biggest benefits of coming here.


Dawn: We are often asked how the Executive MBA career team differs from the full-time career team. The biggest difference is that full-time students leave their jobs to attend school full-time, so their primary goal is to get that first job exiting the program. For EMBAs, they are already working full-time and are looking to apply what they’re learning to their current jobs. This means that we’re often talking about things going on inside your organization, especially if you’re looking for advancement opportunities. We have a coaching model that not only helps you navigate your career while you’re in the program, but to continue navigating it for the rest of your life. Some of those things include resume review, writing a LinkedIn profile, and conducting mock interviews. We also encourage you to focus on building a strong brand and engaging the Wharton network. 


Dawn: One of the hallmarks of our program is that we offer one-on-one coaching to our executive MBA students. As you can imagine, students have diverse goals, so we offer unlimited coaching to current students. We know that each one of you has your own plan and strategy that you want to build and develop, so we take a lot of the programming and put that into an action plan to help you execute it. 

The program also offers several sessions of leadership coaching with an executive coach. This is a great feature because you get to do a 360-degree review, and then work with an executive coach to apply that information to what’s going on real-time in the workplace. 


Steve: The foundation of our programming is one-on-one coaching, and that’s what separates us from traditional MBA programs. Along with the one-on-one coaching, we have a series of workshops, group work, and panels. We also have online resources. 

When it comes to talking about our tools, we have the traditional tools that one would think of, but what sets us apart is how we emphasize strategy. It’s very important that our students leave here with a long-term career strategy. That’s executed through both formal and informal assessment, helping students identify and discover their brand, helping them market their personal brand in the marketplace, and helping them navigate our network and connect more effectively as leaders. We also have a lot of different types of tools enabling students to research career functions and industries before putting it all together in an action plan and building out a strategy.


Steve: In addition to one-on-one coaching, we have various workshops that students are able to participate in throughout their time here. Some of our top workshops are what we call Career Days, which are two full academic days of programming. Career Day One happens in the fall for first-year students, and that’s focused on assessment. We start to create a strategic foundation for the student where they can learn more about themselves, identify their skills, identify their interests, and then start putting a strategy together for how they’re going to execute on that. We end the day with industry and career function panels with our alumni. Career Day Two happens about halfway through the program, and by then we’re hoping our students have a pretty good sense of their direction. That day of programming is focused on helping students put together an implementation plan for their career goals. That’s more focused on advanced resume writing, executive job search strategy, interview logic, etc.

We also have a program called Job Search Action Groups. Once students identify their job search target, we work in small high-impact groups to help them fulfill those targets. We also do mock interview sessions where we’ll meet in small groups and do peer review for those sessions. 

One of the big events that we put together in the spring of the first year is called Career Conversations, which is where we match students and alumni. We work with students to help identify their areas of career interest and where they want to explore. Then we help match them with alumni that represent those areas like investing, finance, strategy, product management, etc. 


Steve: There are always 24/7 resources available through our various platforms. One core platform is the career website where students can find cover letter resources, information on LinkedIn profiles, videos, slide decks, etc. We also have another platform called the Wharton Executives Network. That’s where alumni have signed up to be formal advisors and/or build long-term mentoring relationships with students. It’s a matching algorithm where students will set up a profile and indicate their areas of interest, and then the system will match them up with alumni who have that background. We also have the Global Wharton Alumni Network called Quaker Net. That is more of a standard global alumni database where you can research profiles and access alumni contact information to jumpstart your networking process. In addition, we have a platform called Career Path. This is something we share with the full-time MBAs and that our students can access. It’s a global Wharton job board. We also have Wharton Alumni Career Chats (WACC), which is a platform that matches alumni with students for career conversations.


Dawn: One of the greatest benefits at Wharton is the network. There’s a lot you’re going to learn in the classroom, but your network is going to be what sustains your career for a lifetime. Wharton boasts over 98,000 alumni around the globe. It’s pretty challenging to find a company where you don’t find a Wharton connection. You can access the alumni database when you start the program, and then you have access for life after graduation. 


Dawn: This is one of the things that makes Wharton so unique. A lot of programs have some resources available to alumni once they graduate, but I think the services we offer here are pretty stellar. In addition to having access to the alumni database for life, you continue to have access to 24/7 online career resources, which include webinars and other types of templates that you might need at different stages in your career. You also have the opportunity to continue to participate in career coaching sessions as an alumni, so if you decide five or 10 years out that you’re looking to make a change, you’ll still have access to that.

In addition, we offer lifelong learning courses, global forums, admissions events, global clubs, etc. There’s always something going on. There’s an alumni board of directors book. A lot of our alumni find that they’re interested in taking on either a paid or volunteer type of board position. 

I was presenting at the New York City Wharton Alumni Club recently and want to share a motto I heard: “Wharton is from graduation to grave.” I love that because you can continue to be a part of this community for your entire professional career and beyond — not only as somebody who only attends events but also as somebody who gives back. There are many ways for alumni to get involved.  




What type of career resources are available for EMBA alumni who are looking for a career change?

Dawn: When you become an alumni of the program, you continue to get access to the Wharton Alumni Network, which is our database of all Wharton graduates. We also offer ongoing coaching support. The website provides a number of ways for you to connect through your local alumni club. There’s also a lot of industry programming, so you can really be as involved as you like as an alumni. 

How big of a career change could a student expect to be able to make?

Steve: There isn’t a standard answer. The majority of our students are looking for a change, and that change can be executed in many different ways. Often that change could be a promotion in their company, a functional career change, changing industry, or starting a venture in entrepreneurship. We support all of those areas. It’s difficult to say what an individual can expect, but I think it really depends on the investments the students make up front. The majority of students who put in the time and investment into their target are usually pretty pleased with the results.

Do these programming aspects happen in person or offline?

Dawn: We offer a variety of programs while you are here on campus. We run those programs during breakfast, lunch, or after hours to maximize their time here. We also have online resources that you can review on your own. We want to have as much face time with you while you’re here, but since you only are on campus two weekends a month, there are times when we need to extend that programming outside of those timelines.

Does the Wharton MBA excel at placing students in any particular discipline?

Dawn: We are a coaching model versus a placement model because we know that everybody is coming to the program with a full-time job, full-time responsibilities, and sponsorship backing (whether financial or time only) from an organization. Our goal is to help you learn how to navigate your career for the rest of your life.

At what point during the course of the EMBA program can you begin to take advantage of career coaching and mentoring?

Steve: The official coaching and programming starts at the beginning of term two. Dawn and I certainly make ourselves available and deliver orientation workshops right from the beginning, so you know what to expect over the next two years that you’re in the program. 

Are the courses available online for alumni to continue the goals of lifelong learning?

Dawn: There are a variety of resources offered for lifelong learning. There certainly are students who come back to audit classes or to take Executive Education classes, and there are also a variety of online videos related to career management. 


This webinar was originally recorded on October 25, 2018