Duke Global Executive MBA Student Blog
A Career Transition During My MBA
I would immediately be putting lessons from my MBA program to use in the most difficult of circumstances.
When I began applying for an Executive MBA program in the spring of 2020 (I was definitely a late addition), I was warned that attempting a career transition during my MBA program would be difficult. Limitations on my own time and mental energy aside, I was told that my new employer may potentially not be as flexible or understanding as my current employer.
My job at the time was Chief Operations Officer (COO) of an international experiential marketing agency. Like many other businesses around the world, the agency was impacted profoundly by the sudden and indefinite cancellation of live events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant I would immediately be putting lessons from my MBA program to use in the most difficult of circumstances. Lessons learned from my Managerial Effectiveness and Leadership for the Global Executive courses helped as I delicately supported my team in finding and transitioning into new employment opportunities.
The values that Fuqua instills from day one include teamwork, leveraging individual strengths, and building a strong team dynamic. That served me well as my classmates and I persevered through Terms 1 and 2. We learned from each other and built our own foundational understanding of course concepts.
When these values truly came to life for me, however, was when I informed members of my Fuqua cohort that my department at work was dissolving and that I would be looking for a new job. Instantly, offers of support, referrals, and employment opportunities came pouring in. Fuqua’s Career Management Center (CMC) team reviewed my 10-year-old, outdated resume, audited my LinkedIn profile, and helped me navigate cross-industry comparisons so I could determine where my experience fell in a large organization. In no time, I felt supported, prepared, and, dare I say, confident.
Balancing a job search that led to multi-hour virtual interviews on top of my work, school, and personal responsibilities nearly put me over the edge in terms of time management. I felt words start to stick in my throat and my optimism for each new role begin to falter.
Fortunately, I mustered enough positivity to receive two offers from competing firms and ultimately accepted the one I felt had stronger potential for career growth and was a better fit for my skills. During the interview process, I was very clear in communicating the remaining requirements that my Executive MBA program will have on my time. From the HR recruiter to my new managing director, I was assured that the company would support my efforts and allow me the flexibility to complete my program.
Now that I have started in my new role as the Associate Director of Global Scientific Communications at Seagen, I feel that support echoing through as my new boss checks in to ask how classes are going, shares her upcoming schedule challenges and inquires about mine.
One positive impact of the pandemic is that we are all more considerate of the demands on other people’s personal time, outside of work. I am grateful to have joined a company that values education and work-life balance, and so very thankful to have found the support I experienced from the Fuqua community along the way.