Student Experience: Abstract Goals to Real Opportunities

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

It has been a long time since I updated the blog. In fact, it's been a full two terms since my last post, which was over eighteen weeks ago. They have been among the busiest eighteen weeks of my life, and I'm excited to share these many changes with you. 

First, the biggest life event and reason it's been so long since I've updated the blog: I accepted a new job at a tech firm in Fremont called Sycamore Education. I started there on June 1st, just after I finished my sisth term in the MIdland MBA. Since then, I've spent the past two and a half months training and learning my new role and responsibilities.

This career move really represents the fulfillment of the ultimate goal I had when I started the Midland MBA in March of 2016, which was to change not just jobs but careers. I had spent my entire adult life with Midland, from finishing my undergraduate degree to the beginnings of my working life. I loved my time at Midland, but I knew I also wanted to see more of what was out there, so I set out to join a for-profit company.

I learned many lessons during my initial job search in the fall of 2015, but one fact really stood out: my work experience at Midland helped prepare me for supervisory roles, but my skills were not up to par with many other candidates at my career stage when I started to look for other positions. In job interviews, the sentence, "You don't have enough relevant education or skills, sorry," was becoming a bit of a common phrase.

My interviews as I prepared to leave Midland this time in the summer of 2017 were very different. Two years ago, I looked hard for jobs. I took one interview every two months for salary ranges that were at best 10% better than what I was already making. The only interviews I could get were steps back in my career with less responsibility than I already had.

When I looked this time, I had a much different experience. I was getting calls from banks, financial management firms, and tech companies like Sycamore. I was getting calls two or more times per month, and there was one week where I booked three interviews and two were even in one day. I was looking at raises from 50%-100% for jobs that grew my responsibilities and had great advancement potential. 

At each interview, a significant part of the conversation revolved around my MBA. At Sycamore, it was particularly a point of interest. The firm had worked with the Midland MBA previously on a capstone project, so the owner was familiar with the program. The conversation I had with him was incredibly invigorating. We chatted about some of the opportunities for growth that the company had and how I could help achieve them with the skills I was actively implementing in my classes. We talked about the company culture and how the values of the company lined up very well with my own. 

When the owner called me a few days later to offer me the job, I was happy to accept.

Before I began my first term, I had hoped that beginning my MBA would lead to better job opportunities for me and, by extension, more freedom for my family. The statistics were all on my side, after all. Nonetheless, I couldn't believe the difference it made. I sit here writing this from a house instead of an apartment, while my kids sleep in their own rooms. These are things I had wanted the last time I went job hunting. Now, thanks to the Midland MBA, I can afford them.

And I haven't even graduated yet.

I've got a second update coming next week, where you can learn about two of the best classes I've taken so far in this program and throughout my academic career. I was able to apply the skills we've been learning in a practical environment. Can't wait for you guys to see it!

Jack O'Connell, Midland MBA Class of 2017

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