Career Direction: It’s Ok to Love Your Job!

Click here to listen to the show!Don’t want to wake up at age 45 wondering why you’ve wasted your life pursuing an uninspiring and meaningless career?

Listen to the recording of our conversation with expert career coach, Akiba Smith-Francis, for essential advice on choosing a career path and laying the foundations for long-term fulfillment and success at work.

00:02:27 – Akiba’s journey from brand management to career coaching.

00:04:34 – The anatomy of bad advice (and some good advice to counter it).

00:16:53 – Tips for finding meaningful and enjoyable work.

00:22:57 – I want to follow my passion… but it has no market value. What should I do?

00:25:45 – How to get off the treadmill – even if you’ve been running since pre-school.

00:30:49 – Good networking: what it is and how to do it.

00:36:02 – Are all graduate school leadership development programs created equal?

00:39:51 – Advice for a young person figuring out a career path.
Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

*Theme music is courtesy of

Related Links:

• Services Section
• Akiba Smith-Francis on LinkedIn 
Stepping Off the Path

Related Shows:

The Consortium: Diversifying B-School and Corporate Management
• Forte Helps Women in Business Thrive: Interview with Elissa Sangster 
• Interview with Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl 
• Goal Setting, Job Searching, and Sweet Careers 
• From Luxury Marketing to Entrepreneurship: A Talk with Daria Burke
• Non-Academic Careers for PhDs: A Talk with Dr. Paula Chambers 

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How can you show the adcom that you will be a leader in the future? Click here to find out!

To Research or Not to Research is Thy Pre-Med Question

Journeys with JoshuaCheck out more posts from Journeys with Joshua!: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us!  

So, just how important is research as a pre-med? How does one secure a spot in a lab with a great mentor? Can research help an applicant get into medical school? I’ll walk through the steps of why doing scientific research during your undergrad is important, how it can help you, and why it helps make you a well-rounded pre-medical student.

A little bit of my research background will help you understand my perspective, and how I feel it’s helped me through my first year of medical school as well as continued to stay in a lab and clinic while in medical school. During my Genetics course, I was also shadowing in Pediatric Oncology; the two went hand in hand, leaving me with tons of questions for my professor after class. We built a great relationship by the end of the semester and when I asked him if he needed anyone in his lab, I was thrilled when he chose me. After working together for two years on molecular evolution and mitogenomics, he not only served as an amazing teacher, but an incredible mentor and close friend that helped in the process of me applying and getting accepted to medical school. He even taught me to brew beer! During the last year of my undergrad, I also began working on a pediatric tumor with the physician I shadowed during Genetics and all through undergrad. This physician also became an amazing mentor that helped me in ways I can’t even begin to express. It takes a village to get someone to medical school, and mine was in my corner, rooting and supporting the whole way. Now that I’m a second year medical student, I also have a year of countless hours under my belt spent with critically ill patients because of my research in sepsis as a co-investigator on a clinical study. Yet again, I’ve gained wonderful mentors who have partnered next to me to aid in the process of helping me become a physician.

Doing research as a pre-med is incredibly important as a pre-med because of the following reasons:

1. You need a mentor. Regardless of what you want to do in life, there are two things that influence you more than anything else in the world: the books you read, and the people that surround you. Having a mentor who has helped other students achieve their own professional and personal dreams is a great way to make sure you have someone that can support and encourage you in ways your friends and family can’t. It’s also really nice to have a professor on hand to help explain and physically draw out things that just aren’t clicking in heavier science courses. I would strongly recommend approaching professors who you’ve enjoyed having, and your performance was strong in their course.

2. Medicine is a lot of science. Yeah, pre-med is filled with a lot of sciences, and many of those have labs associated with them. But how much do you really learn from those labs? Did you do PCR and know the molecular biology that was going on? Or did you just pipette the buffer, primers, DNA, nucleotides, water, and polymerase into the tube, press play, and then ran a gel? Research forces you to apply the knowledge and concepts you’ve learned, and apply them in real-time, especially when trouble-shooting experiments gone wrong. Trust me, they go wrong… Doing research teaches you to walk through what your hands are doing macroscopically through the biology and chemistry of what you’re doing microscopically.

3. Showing dedication is a powerful attribute. Doing research does take up additional hours, and yes, it can be frustrating to juggle everything while trying to get into medical school. However, proving to medical schools that you are capable of handling a tough course load while doing research, shadowing, and maintaining a leadership position within your community lets admissions know that you have dedication, will-power and self-motivation. These three characteristics on a proven track record say, “hey, this person can do it, they will do it, now let’s interview them and find out if they should do it.”

I’m not here to tell you that doing research will get you into medical school, but I am saying from personal experience that it has only brought good into my life, both professionally and personally. Through all of this, I’ve also learned that becoming a physician-scientist is a strong interest of mine, and clinical research is exciting and incredibly rewarding. Without having been trained during my own pre-med years by great mentors, I wouldn’t have had the skills or wherewithal coming into medical school to begin research, which has provided me a unique opportunity to contribute to medicine, science, and most importantly, my current and future patients. Who knows, maybe your research in undergrad will prepare you to work next to me in the fight to stop sepsis dead in its tracks before another 100,000 people in the US die from it in the next year.

Cheers, and good luck,


Download your free special report: Navigate the Med School Maze!

Chicago Booth 2015 Executive MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out more school-specific EMBA application essay tips!

Chicago Booth

The Chicago Booth EMBA questions are challenging because they separate your need for the MBA and your interest in the program – the first question asks, among other things, “Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth” and the second question asks “what you hope to gain from the MBA.” One could reasonably see these two questions as being basically the same. While the first question is wide ranging and includes what you’ll contribute to the program, the second question focuses on your goals – it’s the why-MBA part that overlaps. I suggest writing essay 2 first, because the goals discussion will provide context for what you hope to gain specifically from Chicago Booth. Taken together, these two questions allow you to create a well-rounded picture, with sharp focus on career in essay 2, and an opportunity to present selected highlights of your career (and non-work activities as well) in essay 1.


1. Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth and what unique knowledge and experiences do you hope to contribute to the program? (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

Let’s break this question into two parts. Part 1: why you’re seeking the MBA from Chicago Booth. This section should address the specific education you seek as dictated by your goals, which you will discuss in #2. It can also address other desired benefits, such as the chance to interact with accomplished peers from diverse industries. In answering this part, be specific about Booth’s offerings and add insight or reflection based on your perspective and situation. If you can cite conversations with students or alumni, that’s fantastic; give examples of insights you’ve gained from them.

Part 2: what you hope to contribute. Note the word “unique” – it does not mean that you should dredge up some exotic experience that no other applicant could possibly have done; it does mean particularizing your knowledge and experience to yourself, your perspective, your individual lens. This is a chance to showcase aspects of your career and your personal experience that distinguish and differentiate you. You can discuss work points exclusively or work and non-work. Select a few events or activities that complement each other and provide some depth and detail about each. Also, think strategically about what Chicago Booth values and what the rest of your application doesn’t reveal.

 2. Chicago Booth Career Services delivers innovative educational programming, offers one-on-one coaching, provides numerous networking opportunities, and provides access to job search tools in order to support your own career management. We would like to learn more about your career strategy and objectives. Please outline your career objectives, how you hope to achieve them, and what you hope to gain from the MBA to help you achieve them.  (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

By listing its career resources, the Chicago adcom is showing that the program is invested in your career success. You should demonstrate your worthiness by delivering a thoughtful and detailed portrayal of your career objectives. Discuss not just general aspirations but specifics: industry, likely positions, which companies, possibly where, what you expect to actually do, possibly challenges you anticipate – and, as the question says, how. To transcend mere competence and make the essay compelling, also show how your goals are rooted in your experience, what motivates your goals, and your vision for your goals. Finally, discuss the educational needs these goals create that necessitate an MBA. You may also be interested in The Art of a Gripping MBA Goals Essay, an on-demand webinar.

Optional essay: If there is anything else you would like the admissions committee to know about you, please share that information here.  (maximum 2 pages, 12 pt. Times New Roman)

This question invites you to present new material that will enhance your application, as well as to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender if not using a direct supervisor, etc.). As far as enhancement points, keep in mind that since you are making the adcom read more, there should be a clear value to the information you’re sharing. Also, such points should avoid material that more appropriately belongs in essay 1 (unique knowledge and experiences).

If you would like professional guidance with your Chicago Booth EMBA application, please consider Accepted’s EMBA essay editing and EMBA admissions consulting or our EMBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Chicago Booth EMBA application


Round Application Deadline
Early Action October 3, 2014
Round 1 December 1, 2014
Round 2 February 2, 2015
Round 3 April 1, 2015

Download your free copy of Ace the EMBA!

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The EMBA Edge, and author of the free special report, Ace the EMBA. Cindy has helped MBA applicants get accepted to top EMBA programs around the world. She is delighted to help you too!

Final Miscellany – Plan B, Research, Professional Support

Click here to download your complete copy of Why MBA!

Good preliminary research can prevent big mistakes.

“Final Miscellany – Plan B, Research, Professional Support” is excerpted from the special report, Why MBA? To download the entire free special report, click here.

I will wrap up this series with a few miscellaneous points.

Plan B

Think you’re done with MBA goals? Think again… In the current global economic volatility, having a Plan B for your immediate post-MBA goal can be not only good planning for you, but also enhance your goal essay’s credibility.  It’s particularly important if you’re targeting a difficult-to-enter industry (remember that VC-dreamer in the first post?) or changing careers.  In fact, adcoms have specifically said that they welcome this recognition of reality; it gives them more confidence that you can get employed.

The challenge, however, is to discuss a Plan B without using a lot of precious space and without sounding undirected.  In the goals essay, focus mostly on your main short-term goal. Then add one to three sentences about a reasonable alternative that you’d also consider, explaining how it also would be a good step toward your further goals.  Example: an applicant is targeting an IT manager role post-MBA with the long-term goal of CIO; a Plan B could be a tech strategy consulting post-MBA job.

Preliminary research

I’m always surprised at how few people do roll-up-the-shirtsleeves research on their goals before writing essays.  Digging around on the web for a couple of hours or talking to people in careers related to your goals can yield rich detail for your essays.  Moreover, mentioning this research in your essays enhances the sense of commitment to your chosen path.  I suggest reading up on the industry and its current and future challenges, and conducting informational interviews regarding the industry or business function.

Taking this step will enable you to write sharply and engagingly about your goals.  It enhances the interest factor of the essay.  Also it will prevent big mistakes like those of that Wharton reapplicant in the first post in this series.  By presenting selected tidbits of your research in your essay you’ll show you’re resourceful and committed, and equally important you’ll show you have something to say, i.e., contribute.

Professional assistance

I’ve said a lot of “do this” and “do that” in this series.  If you feel that having knowledgeable, experienced, committed assistance as you walk through this process would be helpful, please consider using’s MBA admissions consulting & essay editing services to help you perfect your application.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , author and co-author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports, including Why MBA and Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her fifteen years with

Get Into Medical School with Low Stats Webinar Airs Live on Wed!

Join us live this Wednesday (July 30, 2014) at 5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST. for a free webinar, How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats.

Register ASAP (free) and get ready to learn how to boost your strengths so that the admissions committee won’t dwell on your weaknesses!


Register here: How to Get into Medical School with Low Stats

See you soon!

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