Monday, May 06, 2013

Easier Said than Done

I chose to pursue an MBA for one reason: to change my career.  I knew exactly what I wanted to do after business school long before I was even accepted anywhere. I want to create and manage social impact partnerships between private and social sector organizations.  I want to start in the corporate sector in either a foundation, sustainability, or CSR role (social impact in the corporate sector doesn't look the same at every company so there is variability in what department the jobs I'm interested in are staffed). My career goals played a major part in choosing which school to attend.  Deciding to attend Booth ultimately came down to determining that it was the school where I'd receive the best support in terms of recruiting.  I was absolutely correct in that assessment.  The career services team at Booth is phenomenal.  Career coaches helped me plot my target list of companies.  Second year career advisors gave me great feedback on my resume, cover letters, and interview skills.  I had access to every company I came to school knowing I wanted to target and many more that I hadn't even thought of before getting here.  I found job openings that weren't posted.  I interviewed through both on-campus and off campus recruiting methods.  In February I landed an offer from the world's largest retailer for the exact job I came to business school to get.  Three weeks after receiving the offer I declined it in favor of joining Google in a role very similar to what I was doing pre MBA. *Insert loud record scratch sound* What happened?

No, I did not do a 180 in the 13 days between this post and the next one.  My career goals haven't changed one bit.  I was adamant about what I wanted to do and did not pursue back up options in case I couldn't find the job I wanted.  I came to Booth with a laser focus on Google.  Ever since June 2012 when I saw a job posting for a Manager of Partnerships for I knew that I would be recruiting for an internship with them.  I became even more determined when I learned that took interns.  I tailored my resume to highlight my interest in social impact as well as my cross-functional and client management experiences.  I submitted my application to the general internship program and hoped for an interview.

While waiting I also explored other companies.  A couple, like JP Morgan and Viacom, had been on my list before coming to Booth.  Others came across my radar once I got here.  I hadn't thought about the retail industry until a Booth alum contacted me and encouraged me to apply to the retail giant's strategy and finance internship.  Even though I had no interest in that role I did know that the company had a pretty robust sustainability program so I asked about opportunities in my area of interest.  That led to more informational interviews than I can count.  The great thing about asking people for what you want is that they will often try to give it to you.  Informational interviews turned to real opportunities in sustainability as well as corporate responsibility.

In the midst of exploring other companies Google invited me to interview.  However, the role wasn't in but in sales, my area of expertise.  I took the interview and hoped I'd also get the nod from  It never came, but an offer to intern in sales did.  Shortly afterward the retailer offered me my choice between sustainability and corporate responsibility internships.  I had to make a decision, which if you read my blog posts from April 2012 you know is not the easiest thing for me to do.

Before coming to school I had prepared myself for a long internship search.  I had come to terms with making less money than my classmates.  I had envisioned a dozen different recruiting scenarios, but I never foresaw what actually did happen.  I was faced with a choice between the job I came to business school to get and the company I came to business school to work for.  Since coming to Booth whenever I spoke about my career goals many people told me that it would be impossible to get a corporate responsibility, sustainability, or corporate foundation role right away.  The teams are small and the jobs are highly coveted and are primarily filled internally with employees who have been at the company for a few years.  They told me to get into a company, work for a few years, and then try to make the move over to my desired role.  I pretty much ignored that advice.  I had numerous companies approach me about rotational programs, strategy roles, and consulting gigs.  If they didn't have immediate opportunities in my areas of interest I didn't bother to apply.  I felt (and still do) very firmly that I had reached a point in my career where I had the necessary skills and overall business experience to get the job I want now not after 2-4 years of proving myself in some other role.  However, as my plans began coming to fruition I started to realize that simply finding the right job was only part of the picture. 

For weeks I agonized over which offer to accept (and conversely which one to turn down).  The job I wanted came with a great company in a not so great location.  Although my career is important to me, I value my personal life just as much and knew that there was a high likelihood I would not be happy in such a small town.  Conversely, I worried that taking the sales job at Google would keep me pigeonholed in a function I wanted to get out of.  However, I knew that I felt more myself at Google and I had more of an affinity to building a career there.  The company culture appears to fit me quite well, from the casual dress code to the non stop daily supply of free food. I liked the large retailer when I visited for final round interviews, but I was in love with Google the moment I stepped into their NYC offices.  As I contemplated which offer to take I took some time to sit down with one of the coaches in Booth's career services office.  She put my dilemma in terms of making the choice between a short-term opportunity (an internship is only 2-3 months) vs. my long term career.  I had to ask myself whether a summer internship would drastically improve my marketability for full-time recruiting in the fall for my chosen field if I knew I would prefer not to live in a remote area post MBA.  I also had to consider which offer I had a greater likelihood of revisiting if the internship with the other wasn't a good fit.  Even though the answers to all of these questions pointed toward choosing Google I still couldn't reconcile the idea of turning down the chance to do exactly what I want to do right now.  I felt like I would be a hypocrite if I did that.

It wasn't until I spoke with a current Googler that I started to get some clarity.  She told me that Google hires "mental athletes," meaning people who are capable of performing a variety of functions.  Just because they bring you in for one function that doesn't mean that's where you have to stay.  She also took a more long-term view of things and said, "choose the right company for you, not the right position.  If you're at the right company the position will come." Although I still had reservations I ultimately took her advice.  It's humbling to admit that I got exactly what I wanted just not the way I thought it would look.  I got Google and I got a CSR job, they were just mutually exclusive.  Securing a social impact job in the corporate sector upon graduation is still my priority.  My plan is to go into Google this summer and work my butt off in sales.  I've already asked my recruiter and manager if I could also take on an additional project that's more aligned with my interests and they were amenable to making that happen.  Ironically, one of my classmates (and fellow Random Walkers) will be an intern for  He's more than happy to help me network with his team throughout the summer.  Hopefully, these efforts will lead to a full-time offer that is closer to a more impact focused role.  Most importantly, if I say that Google is the company where I want to build my career then I can use the summer internship to help confirm that.  Am I absolutely, 100% comfortable with my decision?  No, not completely.  However, I don't think I would feel any more certain if I'd chosen differently.  In less than 6 weeks I'll be on my way to seeing if I get this


Anonymous said...

Great choice...what a great beginning wish you all the best.


Alvaro said...

This is cool!