Fred Staudmyer, assistant dean for career management at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, has more than 25 years of experience in executive recruitment, human resources, human capital consulting and entrepreneurship. Before joining Johnson in 2009, he led the Garrett Sayer Group, an executive search and specialty staffing firm focused on technology, financial services and consulting industries. Prior to that, Staudmyer held a range of other senior positions including human resources officer for Ziff Communications focused on human resources and recruitment and head of worldwide talent management for Chase Manhattan Bank. He also happens to be a “dual Cornellian,” having obtained both his undergraduate and MBA degrees from the university.
“I’ve always been a career geek,” Staudmyer confessed in a recent interview with Clear Admit. Indeed, he knows a thing or two about helping people shape their careers. We caught up with him last week, when he generously shared some top tips for prospective MBA applicants to jump start the career search before arriving at business school. Read on and take note – you might even discover that some of Staudmyer’s advice will help you in the MBA admissions process, too.
How to Accelerate Your MBA Career Search Before Setting Foot on Campus
- Read. One of the best ways to prepare for your MBA career search is to read, Staudmyer advises. He recommends checking out a few key books in particular. The first, Steve Dalton’s The 2-Hour Job Search, provides a terrific step-by-step account to accomplishing the most difficult part of the job search, securing the first interview. The second is The MBA Guide to Networking Like a Rockstar by Jaymin Patel. Both Dalton and Patel come to Johnson every year for orientation, Staudmyer notes, so reading their books the summer before you arrive will put you ahead of the game. The third book he recommends is Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends & Influence People. “I know this one kind of dates us,” Staudmyer concedes, “but we believe that understanding how you present yourself, how the world sees you and how to manage relationships is a great thing to do before you get your MBA.”
- Perform a Self-Assessment. Johnson requires that students complete Career Leader’s business career self-assessment (which can be found at Careerleader.com). Completing a self-assessment before beginning your MBA program can help pinpoint and understand interests, motivators and skills that can help drive future success in certain career areas.
- Research Potential Careers. “The better understanding you have of which career area you are going to pursue, the more likely you are to be highly successful in your pursuit,” Staudmyer says. One way to explore the careers you think you might be interested in is to contact alumni from your undergraduate institution in the field or fields that interest you – either through LinkedIn or another alumni database. If you have narrowed your business school search between one to three schools you’re really interested in, you might even reach out to those schools and ask their career department to connect you with their alumni, he offers.
- Research Prospective Schools. Learn all there is to know about your target business schools – understand what differentiates their curriculums, what they are really good at and how successful they are at placing people in the fields you are most interested in.At Johnson, for example, you should get to know the school’s seven immersion offerings – Capital Markets and Asset Management, Investment Banking, Managerial Finance, Strategic Marketing, Semester in Strategic Operations, Sustainable Global Enterprise and Customized Immersion. These semester-long tracks plunge Johnson students into integrated course and field work in a specific industry or career interest. “If you are planning to come to Johnson, we want you to do some research and understand the immersions, their requirements and the kinds of careers they can prepare you for,” says Staudmyer. Immersions are partnered with a variety of concentrations to provide depth and breadth to your experience.
- Explore the Network. You are quite likely going to make important decisions about your career path even before you get to business school. To do so you want to make sure you are accessing the full network of opportunities and resources available to you.Johnson features numerous webinars, online chats and events for prospective students, Staudmyer notes. Make sure that you have access to and take advantage of all that your school has to offer.
“Not all business schools are alike,” Staudmyer reminds prospective applicants. Students often place too much emphasis on rankings and geography and not enough consideration as to what school really fits them,” he adds. Think about what kind of experience you want to have.
“If you want to be anonymous, don’t want people to know you, and don’t want to make a lot of friends, Johnson isn’t the place for you,” he advises. With only 280 students in its two-year class annually, everyone knows one another at Johnson, which makes for a very different experience than a school with 800-1,000 students.
Doing your homework before getting to business school will not only give you a leg up in your career search, it can also help you in the application process itself. Of course, many students come to business school to explore potential career paths. One of the best things you can do in your application is illustrate that you have done your research, know what you want to get out of an MBA and are prepared to take the steps to get you there, Staudmyer says.
Not everyone who comes to Johnson arrives knowing exactly which immersion they want to select, he stresses. In fact, the school offers a range of sessions early in the program that are designed to allow students to explore what each immersion is about. It can be overwhelming if you wait until the last minute to think about your career path, he cautions.
“The more you can do in advance of your arrival, the more successful you will be,” he says. “Time management is a key skill to be successful at business school. Anything you can do before joining the family will get you started in the right direction and place you one step ahead of your peers.”
Learn more about Johnson’s immersions. (Don’t miss the blogs by current students and alumni sharing their first-hand immersion experiences.)
Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management is an advertiser on the Clear Admit site. This piece appears as part of the school’s sponsorship package. For more information about sponsorship opportunities with Clear Admit, contact us here.