“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before. – J Loren Norris
People who know me often get surprised when I tell them I am pursuing my MBA: they can’t imagine me getting out of my comfort zone, leaving my plush job at Deutsche Bank and trading the generally gala time in Mumbai for an uncertain (though exciting) two years. People who know me well aren’t. They know my mantra: you’ve got to play - to take risk - to win.
Because if you’re prepared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to figure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there. – Mark Cuban
There is a host of reasons that propelled me to think about an MBA after working for eight years. I was looking to expand my horizons, to get a holistic perspective of businesses, and gain a larger and diversified network among others. But most importantly - I was looking for a (tangential) career switch. I’m not alone here, not even in minority; there is a fair mix of people in business schools gunning for a career switch. And while it (usually) is as daunting a task as there ever was/will be, I can safely say that the environment here at Yale SOM is extremely conducive to doing this. Everyone (and I mean everyone, from my friendly batch mates to ever-helpful seniors to the professors) goes out of their way to help us achieve our goals. The school trains one well too: the rigorous academic curriculum prepares one well for anything out there and the Career Development Office (CDO) acts as a guide through the two years in matters of recruitment. And then, of course, there’s the school name and brand - highly valued across industries – which lends a stamp of trust and confidence. Add to that the (relatively) small but close-knit alumni base that is extremely supportive and excited about our success and you’d think that with such an excellent academic, co-curricular and professional potpourri, there is not much else one needs. Okay - maybe a robust economy. And a bit of luck! (I wouldn’t mind a ton of luck, though). But not much more, right?
It turns out there IS always scope for something more. The Alumni Mentor Program is just that something more: a big bazooka when it comes to career development. This is a formal program where each student can chose a maximum of two mentors who provide support and advice for students in academic and career-related matters. While I (and others around me at school) have tapped into the Yale SOM alumni network a number of times, it is more often than not to get to know about a particular firm or industry and is usually a part of the job-search. I have always found the Yale/SOM network particularly helpful, but because of the nature of conversations, the interaction has usually been limited to one call or a couple of calls.
The Alumni Mentor Program at Yale SOM is meant to bridge this gap, and so is meant to be a lot broader: career search is a part of it, but that is not all; at its core, it is meant to draw from the expertise of alumni to effectively mold students’ growth and consequently their career trajectory. It is (thus) inherently designed to help students advance to their next level. I have already had a few conversations with my mentors so far (the interactions are usually meant to be once a week or several times a month; now that the finals are over, I have a feeling that the conversations are going to get more frequent) and I would describe the mentor-mentee relationship closest to that of a coach-trainee. Despite both of them being busy (which is a side-effect of being successful I guess), I felt that my mentors have been excited to take time out of their schedule to speak with me (at length at instances). They share their invaluable knowledge, experience and even their connections – one of my mentors has been kind enough to tap into his personal network to help me expand my networking opportunities. I strongly feel that they are invested in seeing me succeed. In many ways, they are acting as a sounding board to aid me in my career and professional development, and as a coach and a friend to help me sail through the rocky patches.
I feel ever more ready for my recruiting, and for life.
What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly? – Erin Hanson