May 31, 2013

Meenakshi Sharma and her wonderful staff in the Career Management Office (CMO) are responsible for a significant portion of my job search success. For me, finding a job was like taking another class at Weatherhead.  The staff provided me with everything necessary to achieve my goal of changing careers. All I had to do was learn, practice and execute!

On the advice of members of the class before me, I attended as many workshops and informational sessions as I could. I learned so much about the peaks and pitfalls of searching for the right job. CMO staff members are meticulous about providing the necessary tips and trainings to help you get the job you want. Additionally, they brought in guest speakers from a variety of different industries to share their success stories and what they look for as hiring managers. I can honestly say that the things I learned during these sessions were just as valuable as anything I was taught in finance, accounting or marketing in terms of helping me secure my internship at the Cleveland Clinic, and then eventually my role as business analyst with Centric Consulting.

One of the most meaningful offerings that CMO provides is the coffee with alumni program. This networking opportunity is designed to give students access to alumni, in their field of choice, who can answer real world questions and provide keen insights into the industry. If it had ended there, I would have been happy. However, with some extra effort and a bit of luck in having good matches, I gained two mentors. Both Jared and Tim took time out of their busy schedules to help me focus on my internship search and then eventually provide me with access to their networks when it came time to finding a job. Having such dedicated alumni, both in Cleveland and in other major cities, is something that truly distinguishes the Weatherhead experience.

The Career Management Office’s commitment to my success made all the difference. It certainly took a lot of effort on my part, but it was all worth it in January 2013 when I received an offer from Centric Consulting. I owe CMO a lot and I am happy to pay it forward to the next cohort of Weatherhead MBAs, just like my coffee with alumni mentors did for me.

Dale Stewart, MBA '13

May 17, 2013

Embrace the day, bagpipes in all!

The Weatherhead bagpiper: your traditional companion en route to Convocation. For those who choose to rise early Sunday for the long walk to Veale Center, we're told he's a more reliable pick-me-up than a cuppa joe. But if you end up celebrating until the wee hours the night before, make sure to stash a few festive aspirin under your cap, because it's gonna get loud!

Enjoy your day, bagpipes and all!

Case Western Reserve University 
May 19, 2013

May 10, 2013

Everyone is in sales. Even graduate students

Everyone is in sales. Whether we are selling a product, leading a business team, or conducting a job search, we are all in the business of selling something everyday. I learned this lesson early on in my career in arts management, carried it into my career in financial services, and still live by it now in health care consulting. It is a tough skill to craft, and I continually tried to perfect it during my recent job search at Weatherhead. With that said, I believe there were six actions that made my job search successful. 

6 steps to my job search
  1. I created a thoughtful scope and scale to my job search before interview season started in early September.
  2. I exhaustively rehearsed my pitch and interview answers.
  3. I leveraged my network and personal resources.
  4. I took advantage of every interview and information session possible on-campus and off-campus.
  5. I remained flexible and adjusted when necessary.
  6. With each job offer, I outlined how it could potentially lead to the next step of my career.
Creating a thoughtful scope to my job search was my biggest challenge, as my summer internship completely took me by surprise. I accepted a position with a once-boutique consulting firm that specialized in consulting engagements with hospitals and health systems. Shortly before I joined, the firm merged with a national practice that offered additional services in the areas of audit and tax. I accepted this position to enhance my skill set in strategy without really understanding its full value.

It was during my internship that I began to realize the benefits of my MBA and my past professional experiences. Walking in with five years of experience in financial services, I was fairly convinced that the only real value I could provide would be in finance. During my first couple of weeks with the company, I began to learn about the great opportunities to improve the economics, operations and management of the caregiver delivery model. I was immediately assigned to teams and was leading projects by the end of the summer. General management best practices were extremely valuable in sorting through some of health care’s most complex challenges. My theory was disproved, as I found a multitude of ways to contribute to the team and provide value to the client.

I came back to Weatherhead for my final academic year with a clear focus for my job search. I began to filter through positions that tackled systemic challenges that were critical to an organization’s health and future value. Positions of this nature included management consulting programs, global leadership rotational programs, and internal enterprise strategy programs. With the help of Weatherhead’s Career Management Office, Weatherhead faculty and my personal network, I began to connect with several employers at national conferences, career fairs and networking events.

My job search was my primary concern during the fall semester. I rearranged my schedule, missed classes and worked double-time to ensure the best possible results. I had a group of trusted advisors - Meenakshi Sharma, Simon Peck and Scott Fine – who were always available to provide honest advice, rehearse case studies and help me prepare for negotiations throughout my decision making process. In February of this year, I accepted a senior associate position with Dixon Hughes Goodman.

Everyone’s career search will be different, as we all have different responsibilities, personal resources, and professional skill sets. My single piece of advice is to plan early, connect with as many people as you can, and be thoughtful and diligent in your approach. 

Laurajeanne Cerniglia, MBA '13

May 3, 2013

Traveling on the wrong side of the road

International students gear up for a cultural shock
It was four in the evening. I was tired, groggy and reeked of the 24-hour-long flight from Mumbai to Cleveland. The level of excitement I had while boarding an airplane to the U.S. had waned a little bit. And the incessant chattering of the loud people in the back seats had only made the flight seemed endless. I thanked God that the flight landed. And now that I got through the unnerving immigration process, I couldn't wait to walk outside the airport and take my first photograph ... of my first view ... of the U.S. My hosting student was gracious enough to pick me up from the airport. She was driving me to her place, where I would spend the first week of my life in the U.S. and all I could think about was how she drove on the "wrong side of the road." Things felt out of cue, there were too many symbols painted on the road and signs that indicated miles over kilometers. I realized in that minute that I was in another country, far from home, and had to learn a few default habits all over again. The first day in the U.S. passed by in a haze, and I woke up only a whole day later. Thank you, jet-lag! After that first day, what was in store for me were a series of small shocks. And this is a story of those small shocks. 

The first big learning experience was during my graduate student orientation. It was a week of meeting with the school's staff, faculty and other incoming students. There were students from all over the globe, the first time I had seen all of them together. I was curious. I was excited. I wanted to introduce myself to them and hear about their lives. There were other students from my own country there too, and it calmed me to see them. I did not feel all alone. I noticed how a few students were uncomfortable to break out of their shell and speak to the domestic students and other international students. Silos were beginning to form. It is a big change and a big choice to make--whether to make an effort to communicate with other students or stay in your familiar bubble with students from your country. I believe I chose the right option. I had come very far from home, to learn from a new culture, in a new country. It was time to leave inhibitions behind, to be confident and to interact within a global confluence. 

It was during these first interactions, that I slowly started to realize that a few things I had taken for granted were suddenly setting me apart in the crowd. Besides the fact that I very clearly look Indian, there were other subtle characteristics about me that set me apart. 

The right kind of English and turning defaults into errors
My English, that I thought was flawless, suddenly was under scrutiny. I spent 27 years of my life learning and speaking the English language that the British had gifted my people with. And suddenly words were spelt differently and pronounced differently. Letters were dropped and substituted. Colour became color, offence became offense, sizeable turned to sizable, cheque changed to a check and metre became meter. Words changed meaning. Learnt became learned. People didn't want my surname anymore, but asked for my last name. It was no longer right to say the boot of a car, biscuits were cookies and petrol was now gas. Suddenly I was making so many errors, without actually making them. 

All basic standards of measurements were shattered. Basic things like the paper size were different.  I had held the metric system very close to my heart and mind. But they no longer helped me in the U.S. I couldn't shop for paper without the U.S. standard of measurement. Who thought I would have a problem picking paper! Paper sizes were not measured on a metric scale, A4 was now the letter size. The list was endless. And it hit me. I missed home. I missed my friends, my family, my usual coffee, my usual driving speed and my dear little A4 paper.  

The first few weeks in the U.S. were intense. In just a day, I felt overburdened with responsibilities that I took for granted while living with my parents. I had to search for a place to live, set up a phone account, set up a bank account, set up the university's insurance program, the list was endless. 

Where to go for help
For those who will be making the trip to Cleveland like I did, you will find the help you need, just look for it. Weatherhead’s Student Affairs Office, student council, and culture societies were all there to help me. You will get through all of this as smoothly as smooth can be. You will find a good home to live in, though no promises on how good your landlord will be to you. And finding a good roommate can be a hit-or-miss situation. But over the months and as time goes by, these small little shocks will become part of you. You will notice how you change the way you speak and the things you do have all changed to help you acclimate to a new culture, to a new country. I still miss my family, but I have new close friends, a new favorite coffee and a new driving speed. All jokes apart, life comes to you when you least expect it. 

My student life in the Cleveland, Ohio, has taught me a few basic things to know if you want to live in the U.S.:
  1. Learn the currency, and try to leave behind the metric system.
  2. Remember the right conversion system. Not the metric system. Leave that behind too. You are traveling in miles now. Oh and did I mention, on the wrong side of the road? ;)
  3. If you value your safety, avoid unusually cheap areas. Believe me, it is not worth it.
  4. Live as close to campus as you can. You will be glad you did. With the many team meetings and the six months of frigid winter, you will have less to complain about if you lived closer. And no matter how adventurous you think you might be, no one wants to be out in the cold.
  5. And most importantly, number FIVE. Break out of your silos. Embrace the change. Make friends with unexpected people. And learn to love surprises.
After two years, Cleveland has become my home. I learned to love it. You will learn to love it too.  
Soumya Nair, MBA '13

Learn why other students (video) chose to study management in Cleveland at Weatherhead School of Management.