How do EMBA career services differ from full-time MBA career services? Can EMBA students participate in on-campus recruiting? What job search resources are available to executive MBA students? In a recent Webinar, our career directors on both coasts answered these questions and many more. Here is an edited transcript of the webinar with Dawn Graham (East Coast) and Steve Hernandez (West Coast):
Steve – Our mission in the MBA for Executives Program is different from full-time MBA programs. It is more navigational. We are here to help EMBA students figure out what they want to do in the long term, how they will apply what they’re learning, how they will leverage their network, and how they will create an execution plan. We provide programming over students’ two years here to support that mission.
On Key Events:
Dawn – The first key event we offer is Career Day, which is really two full days of dedicated career management programming. During those days, we cover the gamut of career management resources available for our students. We have a dedicated online system for EMBA students with tools and resources and even free subscription links. We also focus on things like writing LinkedIn profiles, personal branding, and networking. Wharton has one of the best networks hands down of any MBA program so we want students to understand how to build, navigate, and leverage that network. We also have a series of panels where students can learn about different industries like healthcare, entrepreneurship, finance, and consulting.
Steve – The first part of Career Day is intended to help students with self-assessment, exploration, and figuring out options based on existing skills, interests and long-term aspirations. Then we create a career plan around that. That plan drives our big program in the spring called Career Conversations. After students have a sense of where they want to go and their key interest areas, we match them up with some of our more prominent alumni in that vertical.
Steve – Our core mission is navigational. Our students are already employed when they start the program so we’re not here specifically to facilitate a new job. Instead, our focus is on creating a game plan for them to discover where they want to go and then achieve that goal. Eligible students can participate in on-campus recruiting in the fall of their second year, but they would be competing with full-time MBA students for associate-level positions. Most EMBA students already hold positions beyond this level and, therefore, do not participate in that. They use the Wharton network and leverage their prior experience to seek more senior positions.
The core of what we do is individual coaching. Dawn and I spend 50% of our time on this. Each student gets one-on-one attention and we help them build a game plan. That is a very unique service and is the biggest value we offer. Students can meet with us individually on an ongoing basis to create a plan and then make adjustments – even after graduation.
On Lifelong Benefits:
Dawn – Career services don’t end when you graduate. You get lifelong access to the Wharton Job Board — you can also post jobs on it for your company — and can participate in our resume book, use our career management website, and benefit from career coaching. That is a powerful part of our program. We look at career management as a lifelong process; you get a lot of programming while you’re here, but this is the start of a new career trajectory for a lot of people and we support them in that process for life.
On the Process:
Steve – This is an interactive process. The students who feel like they get the most out of career management are very active in the process. We create an individualized process for each person and provide resources and support, but they have to execute on that plan.
Dawn – Wharton will open up a lot of doors, but you still have to walk through those doors. You need to take the time to cultivate your network and then use the network to get the opportunities you want.
On Full-Time vs. EMBA Format:
Dawn – It may not be clear which format to apply to depending on your years of experience or if you are debating whether it’s worth quitting your job. There is no simple answer. However, if you are looking to make a significant career change where an internship would be valuable and you don’t have any experience in the new area, the full-time program offers more to support you in that change. But we do have people making those changes in the EMBA program. Those students need to understand that they will likely be using their network to access opportunities versus a structured process.
On Career Changes:
Steve – EMBA programs are built to support individuals who are already on a career track within their company or function. But over time that has changed and many students on the West Coast come to our program thinking about making a career change like going into entrepreneurship. We still want students to be employed and stay employed in the program. However, almost 50% of the students in San Francisco change jobs during the program or shortly after graduation. This could mean a promotion or functional change within their current company, launching or joining a startup, or pivoting to something new. The key to making those changes is giving yourself time to get all the pieces into place.