I was lucky enough this year to lock down my full-time job right before winter break. This has been great in relieving the pressure going in to my last semester and has allowed me to enjoy other aspects of the MBA life as things begin to wind down. But, all of this could not have happened without hard work and support from the career center and my negotiations class.
With a background in construction/engineering project management at Disneyland, I came to school looking to switch in to management consulting. Although that is not where I ended up focusing my career search, through the process I was able to learn (as my econ professor Rebitzer would say) “a tremendous amount” of job searching strategies. Using the career center, the consulting community, job fairs, and seminars I learned the art of translating a job description in to a focused cover letter, using informational interviews to tailor my resume to bring out my important qualities that would best suit me for the job, and mock interviews to experience the pain of going through a horribly difficult interview (thanks Gary…). With the Feld Career Center’s seminars on networking and the required informational interviews (back in week 1 of my first year) I got proficient at my 30 second pitch, asking the correct questions to find out what the company culture was like, and if they had positions that would fit what I most wanted out of a job. Further, with the help of professors, my classmates, and others from the Career Center I learned the importance of molding my story to show my future employer how my past experience has led me to this job and why I would be the best fit. None of these skills were in my career “tool-kit” before I started, and now I feel comfortable enough to do this any time! Of course, the biggest help has been my peers who are supportive and excited anytime I mentioned I had an interview coming up. My favorite part of my preparation was sitting down with my friend Parker and having him interrogate me as if he were the interviewer and explain why he should hire me. The character he played would be a very mean boss and thankfully I never had an interview quite that hard. All of the skills helped me get to the point of getting an offer, which brings me to my next topic.
Negotiations is a popular class here at BU, mainly because it is really fun and extremely applicable to the business world, and life in general. The intro project is to get 10 “NOs” from people, as long as you ask for something of substance. Most students end up with free premium channels from Comcast, discounts on clothing, or a free drink at a restaurant. It is a ton of fun and forces you in to getting comfortable asking for things as long as you can give reasons for why you deserve it! Professor Levin established a solid course load where every day we were involved in some type of negotiation (competitive to collaborative to a mixture of both) and we soon became very comfortable in dealing with complex negotiations and learned frameworks to manage tough deals. This came in handy as offer letters started coming in. Prior to this class I was very uncomfortable asking for things (specifically countering offers) and I did not understand the importance of backing your numbers up with concrete facts and thorough research. Although I was extremely nervous to attempt a serious salary negotiation without the safety net of the classroom, I undertook it with confidence and structure from the class.
Shawn Hay is a General MBA concentrating in Leadership and Organizational Transformation. Prior to his MBA he worked at Disneyland as a project manager for the construction department. Shawn really enjoys the collaborative culture at BU.