Pooja Bansal, WG’20, came to Wharton looking for a career in Silicon Valley, but ended up finding the “perfect opportunity” at a classmate’s veteran-based mortgage firm.

When Pooja Bansal, WG’20, came to Wharton’s EMBA program, her career goal was to transition out of IT into a broader business role. She started the program focused on joining a big tech company, however she ended up finding the “perfect career opportunity” at a smaller firm through a classmate.

“I came to Wharton because I wanted to make a significant impact in a big organization, where my decisions would influence a large number of people at every level. I wanted to build a leadership bench across an organization,” she explained.

To refine her job search, Pooja utilized several of the career resources offered to EMBA students:

Career Coaching

“I worked with the EMBA career director, Dr. Dawn Graham, to help identify my interests and goals. I read a book titled, The Two-Hour Job Search, which helped me realize that I was falling into the common trap of only searching for familiar corporate brands. However, those companies only comprise 1 percent of the entire career ecosystem. There are many other small and mid-size companies where you can have autonomy to accomplish your goals. That is when I started to consider smaller firms.”

Dawn also advised her on networking and encouraged her to create brand ambassadors. “These are people who know my career goals and can help make connections. I learned how to be strategic about networking by keeping track of contacts and following up. Dawn reviewed my resume and conducted mock interviews too.”

Wharton Network 

“I started calling alumni every day for a couple of months for informational purposes. It was mind blowing how everyone was so willing to talk and be helpful. I wasn’t calling about a specific job – I just wanted to learn about their career path and they were quite happy to share their experiences.”

Pooja with her classmates

Job Search Acton Group (JSAG)

“I joined a JSAG in my last term, which is a small working group of students actively searching for a new job. The group, led by Dawn, gave us a structured approach to our search. For example, sometimes applicants send their resume out without much of a plan. Dawn taught us how to be more targeted on a specific market. We also created a compelling message for job interviews, including examples of qualities we wanted to highlight. Our group became like a mini-family and supported each other through what can be a stressful process.”

Wharton Alumni Careers Chat (WACC)

“This is a Wharton community platform to reach out to alumni, who voluntarily posted their career profiles and encourage students to schedule phone chats. That was one of my favorite resources.”

EMBA Career Days

“The Career Management group offers full-day career workshops specifically for EMBA students. The first one was focused on case preparation, career assessment, planning and personal branding. The second event was focused on panel discussions and career conversations with alumni to help us visualize the post-EMBA experience.”

Classmates

“With more than 200 students in our EMBA classes in Philadelphia and San Francisco, I tried to reach out to as many classmates as possible to learn about their careers.”

In the end, Pooja found her new position through a classmate, Michael “Mo” Oursler, WG’20, COO of New Day USA.

Pooja and Michael “Mo” Oursler

“I was hanging out after class with Mo and another classmate, and we were chatting about job interviews and how I was interested in purpose-driven work. I described my position at the time managing a Barclays service management team, including several call centers around the world, and he explained how his for-profit, social impact company has a global footprint and provides home ownership and financial security to veterans and their families,” she recalled.

As Pooja learned more about New Day and its culture, she realized it was a great match for her interests and goals. “The mortgage industry is in hyper-growth mode and I could be part of that growth and create a leadership bench of amazing people who are motivated by the company’s mission of serving veterans.”

Conversations with Mo led to a leadership position in human resources. “I didn’t have an HR background, but my Wharton education prepared me to take on the role of senior vice president as a head of HR and corporate communications,” she said.

Pooja added, “You can dream about anything, but without taking action, those dreams won’t get fulfilled. I learned at Wharton to not put a ceiling on my dreams and how to create an action plan for my goals. I also learned just how valuable the Wharton network is and how it can help me achieve my goals.”

Pooja with her classmates

— By Meghan Laska

 

Posted: September 3, 2020

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