Goal Setting, Job Searching, and Sweet Careers

Grace_KutneyJob searchers, tune in! We’d like to introduce you to the woman who wants to help you refine your goals and figure out a meaningful career path.

Listen to the recording of our conversation with Grace Kutney, founder and principle of Sweet Careers Consulting for some excellent advice and a run-down on the current state of career-searching.

00:02:59 – How Grace fell in love with career advising & started Sweet Careers.

00:08:37 – The importance of having a goal (and of being able to change it).

00:17:05 – The move toward unpaid internships: :-D  or :-( ?

00:19:43 – Advice for international students & immigrants.

00:25:23 – How social media can harm or help your job search.

00:31:39 – Why and when Grace posts job listings.

00:34:04 – Is there still a place for face-to-face networking?

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• Sweet Careers

• Accepted Admissions Blog

Related Shows:

• Interview with Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl
• Interview with Mark Babbitt of YouTern 
• MBA Project Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses 
• Business, Law and Beyond: An Interview with John Engelman 

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Delivering STAR in an American Context

Guidance for every step of the MBA admissions process!

Culture dictates the way we approach everything, even the STAR format of interviewing

This is a guest post by Grayson Leverenz of MBA in the USA.

It was late in the spring, and the international student sitting across from me was nervous because she didn’t have an internship yet. She had solid skills, a flawless resume, and she prepared for her interviews. What was the problem?

We started her session with a behavioral question. I asked, “Tell me about a time when you worked on a virtual team project.” She launched into her answer using the MBA STAR framework: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

About two minutes later, I recognized the issue. The student was still explaining the Situation.

Americans communicate directly. We value clear, concise messages, and don’t require a lot of background (or context) before the main point.

This student was from a highly indirect culture. She was taught the value of nuances in word choice, tone, and non-verbals. Her culture also required significant background in communicating messages. The Situation and Task were important to her because they provided the context.

I explained the cultural dimension of Communication to her, and gave details about the range from direct to indirect. “Americans prefer a direct communication style and are highly results-oriented. What that means for STAR is that you spend very little time, no more than 45 seconds, on the Situation and Task. You focus the majority of your answer on the Action and Results.”

Her eyes brightened. She understood. We practiced again, and she integrated the new information perfectly. The student ended the season with multiple internship offers, and used her new cultural communication skills to succeed on the job.

Culture dictates the way we approach everything, even the STAR format of interviewing. As you’re preparing to be Accepted, communicate with the receiver in mind, both in interviewing and in writing.

Advice for demonstrating leadership in you application essays.

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

Positive Employment Feedback from B-School Class of 2013

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90% of 2013 graduates were employed by September

In September, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) polled graduates in the b-school class of 2013 and found overall success when it came to finding jobs and valuing their degrees. Here are some highlights from the Global Management Education Graduate Survey:

• 90% of 2013 graduates were employed by September. By world region, U.S. respondents fared the best with 95% employment; this is followed by 92% of Latin Americans, 87% of Indians, 85% of Asia-Pacific citizens, and 82% of Europeans. 92% of full-time, two-year MBA alumni were working at the time of the alumni poll – the highest level since the class of ’09.

• In 2009, only 84% of respondents were employed by the September following their graduation; in 2012, that figure was at 92% (slightly higher than this year).

• 74% of those queried said that they would not have gotten their jobs without their business degree.

• 15% of class of 2013 grads entered the technology sector, compared to 12% in 2009.

• 5% of 2013 alumni reported that they were entrepreneurs or self-employed.

• An eye-popping 96% of 2013 grads declared that the value of their business degree was “outstanding, excellent or good.” This is comparable to past years.

• Median full-time salary for two-year b-school grads (U.S. citizens) in 2013 was $90,000 with additional compensation/bonus of $10,000; for Indian citizens in this category, the starting salary was $34,988.

• For citizens of European countries who graduated from full-time one-year programs, the median starting salary was $101,093.

• Median part-time salaries for U.S. citizens came in at $85,000.

See the GMAC press release, “Nine Out of 10 Class of 2013 Business School Alumni Employed, Poll Finds,” for more info.


The #1 lesson from this data (and the Forbes ROI ranking) is that reports of the MBA’s demise are greatly exaggerated. There are very few initiatives, educations, or projects in life that get the kind of approval ratings and can report the kind of results that GMAC is reporting here. Now is it possible that the 915 responses are somehow positively biased? Yes, but GMAC had a healthy 19% response rate and sent questionnaires to graduates of 129 business schools including the 10% that report they are not yet employed.

For the first time, GMAC also studied entrepreneurs (5% of the class) and asked about their plans. However, the interesting entrepreneurial data from my perspective was the entrepreneur’s view of the MBA. 87% reported that “their education provided them with the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop their business.” Given the small sample size (approximately 46 MBA entrepreneurs), I’m not sure this is quite as compelling as the other data, but it does give an indication that MBAs find their education valuable in an entrepreneurial setting.

Is the MBA a great investment for everyone? No. Poets & Quants recently ran an article on a new book, The MBA Bubble by Mariana Zanetti [Disclaimer: I have not read the book]. According to P&Q and the comments Zanetti posted on P&Q, she acknowledges she went to business school for the wrong reasons and now she has written a book claiming that the MBA is not worth the money and time it requires.

For some people and some business schools, she’s right. For others, she’s wrong. It’s up to you the applicants to make sure that you apply to programs that will help you achieve your professional goals with a strong likelihood of positive ROI. If you do, chances are high that you will graduate into the happy 90% of employed and the 96% of satisfied b-school grads.

Accepted.com Accepted.com ~ Helping You Write Your Best

How to Optimise a LinkedIn Profile in Anticipation of a Job Search

Actively Add Contacts

Actively add contacts.

LinkedIn, although one of the oldest social networking sites, is probably the most important when it comes to looking and applying for jobs. Your profile on LinkedIn is your chance to really sell yourself on the professional market and get the best opportunities available to you. With over 200 million members from 200 different countries it is important that you make your profile stand out from the mediocre. Here are just a few tips that will help you spice up your profile, get it read and make you look even more attractive to prospective employers.

Keywords: Since there are so many profiles on LinkedIn, employers have to search through them automatically. One of the main ways that they find profiles that they wish to look at in detail is through a basic keyword search. All you need to do is make sure that your profile contains as many relevant keywords to your line of business as possible. But it is not enough to just put these keywords anywhere on your profile and hope for the best. Research has shown that a matching keyword in your headline, company name, job title and skills will rank you higher on the search results. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t include keywords elsewhere. By including them in your job experience section you can push your profile even higher up the list automatically, as well as appealing to employers when they read your profile manually.

SEO: Not only do the keywords need to be included once, but many of the LinkedIn searches operate using Search Engine Optimization. In order for your profile to be the one that comes up first, you need to have the keywords repeated throughout the whole of your profile. Don’t just put them in at random, though, it still needs to read coherently as at some point it will be seen by human eyes.

Don’t Limit Yourself: Just because you are working as a Marketing Manager at the moment doesn’t mean that is all you are qualified to do. When writing down your job title you can use far more words than perhaps you would think to. Include all the jobs you have had as well as all the ones you would like to have, separated by a forward slash. For example, Marketing Manager/Social Media Manager/Marketing Executive/Content Advisor. This gives you more keyword matches every time and will help you to appeal to more employers searching on LinkedIn.

Add References: Include references and recommendations from previous employers. Ask previous employers to write you a blanket reference, just a few sentences will do, and these will help verify what you are saying about yourself.

Keep Your Profile up to Date: It will only take a few seconds to add a new qualification or achievement to your profile, but if you let them all build up, then you will have a mammoth task on your hands trying to update the whole thing all at once. Another reason to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date is that the more you update your profile, the more you will show up on news feeds etc. You will seem more like an active member of the LinkedIn community and your profile will therefore be more attractive to prospective employers.

Contacts: Actively add contacts and accept all of the requests you receive. The more people who get to see your profile, the more chances you have of somebody wanting to offer you an opportunity. Adding contacts will increase your level of activity on LinkedIn too, making you show up on news feeds more often.

Attention to Detail: You should treat your LinkedIn profile just like your resume. You don’t want people to think that you can’t type or spell. Make sure that you proofread everything that you put up.

Personalize Your Profile: Change all the names of the links on your profile to be specific to you. Instead of having the section labeled ‘My Company’, change the settings so that the actual name of your company appears. This will look far more professional, and it will look like you have spent much more time on creating your profile.

how_2_becomeThis article was contributed by How2Become, a leading career website run by Richard McMunn. McMunn’s aim is to guide as many people as possible through the recruitment process to help them secure the job they have always wanted.  The site offers a wide range of books and training courses for those who want to ensure they are fully prepared.

Against the Odds: Indian MBA Applicants – Prepare for Your Job Hunt Now

Prepare for Your Interviews

Be Prepared for Your Interviews.

So what if you make it? You get into your dream MBA program. Next you’re expecting to land your dream job upon graduation—in the US. It might not be that simple if you’re an Indian national.

According to a recent Bloomberg article, only two out of the top MBA programs responded to a survey about international student job placement rates: Chicago Booth—95.2 percent, and Stanford—91 percent. Those are pretty good stats, but they do not differentiate between placement inside the U.S., or whether those jobs were elsewhere.

Across the board, new MBAs hit a rough patch in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, especially foreign nationals. Some US investment banks and other companies stopped hiring foreigners and even rescinded offers.

Hiring practices have recovered since those dark days, but stats are still hard to find. Some sectors, though, didn’t change their recruiting – like tech firms who value strong analytical and engineering skills, say admissions officials. They offer jobs to many Indian nationals and have been consistently hiring.

But there are key issues that Indian nationals should be aware of as they contemplate the end game in their MBA experience – the job offer.


One obstacle that can stand in the way of international MBA students seeking placement in the US is obtaining a work visa, according to Bloomberg:

International students have F-1 visa status, which means they are non- immigrant students in the eyes of the law. They can all stay in the U.S. to work for 12 months after graduation without an additional visa; those with pre-MBA backgrounds in science, technology, or engineering can stay for 24 months. After that, international grads must get an H-1B visa, which requires employer sponsorship.

Most top MBA programs have already thoroughly vetted the companies that recruit on their campuses. They know which firms are willing to hire foreign nationals and sponsor their visas, or not. For each position you consider, be prepared to show how your specific skill set is vital to that job description—an essential part of the visa process. Do that research now so that you know in advance if your goal career is attainable.

Stay Informed

Take at close look at your chosen industry. Careers in tech, consulting and supply-chain management are globally oriented and employers are seeking international candidates to expand their reach. Marketing, however, is increasingly hyper-local. With your cultural knowledge, you may be better served to look for placement, even an MBA, domestically in India. Several MBA programs are sending out summer reading packets about US business upon acceptance. Delve into these materials so you have a clear picture of what’s ahead.

Be Flexible

Associate Dean of Admissions at Emory Goizueta Julie Barefoot says she would give the same advice to Indian nationals as she would to any student on the job hunt: “Be flexible. There’s more than one desired path, and you might have to take an interim step.”

That could mean working for your choice employer back in India, or elsewhere outside the United States. Some companies now offer a training year in the US before sending MBAs back to their home country. They’re aware of the US salary differential, and may offer a bonus or commensurate salary to make it worth your while, according to Bloomberg.

Be Prepared

To properly prepare for your job search, Kellogg’s Director of International Coaching and Global Relations Carla Edelston says the first step is to be self-aware – of your strengths, your preferences, and weaknesses you need to improve.

She advises foreign nationals to take advantage of the resources they are already paying for as part of their MBA experience to successfully land a post-MBA position. Kellogg offers access to the Career Leader, a psychological assessment tool designed by two Harvard faculty members, to help students identify a career match. Job hunters are then advised to conduct a market-assessment, and network with fellow students who are some of the best resources for leads and connections.

Finally, job seekers need to prepare themselves for interviews – how to convey what Edelston calls, “an executive presence,” the ability “to speak with a firm tone, with confidence.” Career offices offer many opportunities to work on your interview skills and MBA officials strongly recommend that you internalize their feedback, and willingly adjust your style.

Here are some common issues Indian nationals can run into during the interview process for US companies:

- Fixation on touting credentials over answering the question. Interviewers want to know they are being heard. Avoid weaving in your academic record or list of awards in responses. They can gather this information from your resume. Recruiters want direct answers.

- Identify pronunciation problems. Candidates from many English-speaking countries, not just India, can be difficult to understand to a foreign recruiter. Get some honest feedback from a US-based friend or coach and work on your phrasing or vocabulary. This is important across the board, but especially important for communications-heavy positions like consulting.

- Overly long resumes. One page. Just one page. That is the only format acceptable in US business practice.

Again, take the time now to research how best to target your industry, and start working on your “executive presence.”

An MBA is just a piece of paper – you need to embody the title.

Get the rest of the series: Download Against the Odds: MBA Admissions for Indian Applicants now!

Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.