This summer, the Cambridge MBA team underwent a reorganisation that saw the Marketing, Admissions and Careers functions come under my supervision. Within the Careers team, we have beefed up the employer relations and business development side so that we can increase our outreach to employers with two objectives, one to better understand employer talent needs and feed that information back to students, and secondly to help in employer branding so that students get a more accurate picture of each employer, their strategies and their values.
We are not the first school to formally bring the admissions and careers functions under one roof. I keep hearing that schools that have gone down this path want their careers team to have a say on admission decisions. Many schools that don’t have this formal structure have processes in place where someone in careers might have a place on the admissions committee or in some schools, even conduct the admissions interviews.
This was not the reason behind our reorganisation nor the end objective. Our admissions process will continue to hinge on a candidate’s intellectual abilities, work accomplishments, collaborative ethos and potential to contribute on a larger scale. And our career stats so far, of at least 90% in two of the last three years, show that we don’t need to make much changes on the admissions side to improve the careers outcomes.
Instead, we are bringing the careers aspect forward to candidates. At our interview days, interview candidates are split into small groups where they have a session with one of our careers consultants. Our careers consultants provide feedback to the candidates on their career goals but their feedback plays no part in the admissions decision itself. In some cases, where a candidate is strong but has career goals that are a stretch, we will still extend an offer to that candidate but follow up with a phone conversation explaining why we think the career goals will be a challenge and let the candidate decide how he or she wants to proceed.
One idea that I have mentioned several times on this blog is the power of networks. Not the schmoozing over drinks type of networking but the capability to identify, connect with, build and grow a community of like-minded individuals. That’s where marketing comes into the mix. As more and more students get interested in organisations that typically might not have considered hiring MBAs, it becomes more important for students to showcase their interests and connect with people in these organisations. The marketing work that my team does, whether in terms of student blogs, podcasts, videos, websites like the New Game will become more important from a careers point of view. For the first time, the marketing team hosted a reception for the MBAs during Orientation and our Careers team has been active in encouraging students to use twitter firstly as a means of getting information from us, but subsequently to connect with others.
Exciting times. We will see what happens.