Category Archives: Career Development

Students and Alumni Make Key Connections with Employers at TMMBA Career Mixer

Last month the Technology Management MBA Program held its first-ever Career Mixer.  You might be familiar with the traditional career or job fair, but this event was different by design to provide an event rich in connections.

A traditional career fair or job fair is structured around employers with a list of open positions and prospective employees passing out a one-size-fits-all resume.  Since networking is the number one way to find a great job, there is tremendous benefit in connecting with peers and hiring managers. The TMMBA Mixer was designed to help student and alumni make these key connections with regional employers.

The event was a huge success with a great turnout of students and alumni and a diverse mix of 19 companies.  We invited three individuals from each company: a TMMBA alumnus, an HR or Recruiting leader, and another individual from the management/leadership team.

Attendees interested in working for one of the companies now have new connections to reach out to for a conversation and additional information. This tailored approach is highly recommended and focuses on relationship-building.

For those that were not currently looking for a job or change in company, the Mixer was an opportunity to practice introducing themselves to many individuals and build out their professional networks, so it’s ready when they need it.

There are many other career services provided to TMMBA students, including coaching and workshops. Learn more on our website.

LinkedIn Alumni offers powerful tool to leverage your alumni networks

Sara Jones, TMMBA Associate Director and 2012 alumnus

According to John Hill, 85% of job opportunities will come through someone that’s a 2nd level connection on LinkedIn. John is LinkedIn’s Higher Education Evangelist and last week he came to the Foster School to share tips and strategies for getting the most out of LinkedIn.  Although it wasn’t all new to me, John was a great presenter who could really tell a story and make his message stick.

The three big points of the night were:

  1. Build a network before you need it.
  2. Build a quality network not a quantity network.
  3. Dream big.

The rest of the talk was on how to use LinkedIn to manage relationships and help accomplish these big points. He shared several great tips, but I want to highlight one feature that you might not be as familiar with: LinkedIn Alumni.

Here’s a screenshot:

linkedIn alumni

If a fellow TMMBA or Foster alum reached out to me, I’m likely to take the call. Why? Because we have something in common. With LinkedIn Alumni, you can now find fellow alums of your university or b-school AND you can filter by where they live, work, what they do, skills, and several others.

For example, if I was looking at relocating to the Bay area and interested in Google, I can drill down and see that I have 19 fellow Foster alums that graduated in the past 5 years.  Or maybe you’re sick of the Seattle rain and ready to move to the islands.  In my case, I have 87 fellow alums that I could reach out to in Hawaii.

That’s a pretty powerful tool to help you leverage your alumni networks. Check it out and let me know what you think.

TMMBA Acts: Taking Immersion Week Ethics to Heart

Sarah McCaffrey, TMMBA Student, Class of 2014

I have an ethical dilemma.

By pure chance, I subscribed to a Facebook page for a student veterans group that recently shared a link to an upcoming event. This link took me to an announcement of an enticing opportunity, an all-expense-paid weekend summit with one of the most sought-after technology employers in the United States. During this summit, the company will celebrate core military values, offering a small group of undergraduate and graduate business student veterans a chance to network and learn about their company culture.

As a Marine veteran and TMMBA student, I want to attend this summit. Every business student veteran reading this post wants to attend this summit, and every non-business non-veteran student reading this post wishes they met the criteria so they could attend this summit. I want it so much that I can feel the temptation to become secretive.

top secretImage via handpickedcollection.com

Several other veterans attend the TMMBA program; countless others study at the Foster School of Business. If they apply, how will that affect my (already slim) chances? Why should they benefit from my Facebook group subscription diligence? Am I under any obligation to share this information?

Fortunately, we took an Ethics seminar with Dr. Scott Reynolds during Immersion Week. I have the tools to resolve this dilemma.

If every person in the world withheld information to suit their goals, would that be a good thing? If every veteran withheld information to suit their goals, would we find that admirable? Would I personally benefit from such a standard?

Lost in thoughts

Image via 123rf.com

Which choice would add more value to the world as a whole? At its simplest, to withhold the announcement of a veterans summit, I gain the value of reduced competition, while each veteran who does not hear about the opportunity loses the value of a chance to apply. To share the news, I lose the value of better odds, while many more veterans gain the value of a chance at being selected. Lastly, the tech company, Google, gains the value of a diverse, competitive group from which to select their summit participants.

I hope every eligible person bookmarks this link to the Google Student Veterans Summit; applications open in the spring of 2013 with the summit to follow in July. If any University of Washington student finds a place in this select group, I will celebrate with justifiable pride in our entire veteran community. Good luck to all of you – just not too good.

Your Resume is a Reflection of Your Personal Brand

By Susie Buysse, TMMBA Associate Director, Career Services

Students enter the TMMBA Program with diverse career goals.  We recommend outlining plans in the first quarter followed by subsequent milestones and actions to realize this change upon graduation.

Often, the best place to begin is ensuring that your resume is contemporary and easy-to-read while capturing your best relevant strengths.  Two benefits of this:

  • As a TMMBA student, you will expand your network and a great fit opportunity may surface without an active job search.
  • Your resume can be tuned-up before a career focus is set, and it can certainly be further tailored at a later date.

In November, the TMMBA Program delivered two workshops on crafting a polished resume.  These articles highlight the importance of including your accomplishments (impact) in order to stand out from the crowd and get noticed:

New benefits for TMMBA students and alums!

Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director

The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) is one of the largest statewide tech trade associations in North America, and we’re it’s newest member!  What does this mean for you? Through the TMMBA WTIA membership our students and alumni now have access to their wide mix of member benefits, including:

  • Free and discounted attendance at WTIA events
  • Access to the WTIA network (800 member companies and 100,000 tech workers statewide)
  • 13 community and special interest groups to join
  • Access to online WTIA Job Center
  • Discounts through WTIA Marketplace (health benefits, human resources, 401K, computer equipment, personal insurance, and more)

Sage Advice about Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are an important part of the job search process, but many people shy away from them or feel uncomfortable reaching out.  Here are 4 good points to remember about informational interviews,  from Jennifer Vancil in her post “The Informational Interview: It’s Just About Having Coffee”.

  1. It sounds a lot like asking for a job interview and it certainly feels like a big thing to ask.  Asking for a meeting with someone you barely know (or don’t know), when you don’t know if a job exists, or whether you would be a good fit for an available position, is enough to send most job-seekers back to the online job boards to continue sending resumes into the void.
  2. An informational interview is not a sales call or an interview.  Bringing a resume to an informational interview is like bringing a wedding ring on a first date.  It puts too much pressure on that first meeting.The goal is to have a conversation that leads to finding a great job in a field you are excited about.   It’s simply “I’m interested in learning more about you and your company.  Would you be   willing to meet with me for 20 minutes?”  You don’t talk marriage before you’ve gotten to know each other and it’s the same in an informational interview.  You’re not at the commitment stage yet.
  3. You should be genuinely interested in the other person and the discussion should center on asking questions, not your needs and trying to “sell” yourself.Someone who asks good questions is considered engaging and interesting – just the kind of person they would like to work with.  Someone who is genuinely curious about them and open to advice would make a wonderful colleague.
  4. Often an informational interview will lead to a great referral and insider information about the company or upcoming projects or positions.  This is a great outcome of lowering the stakes and removing the pressure of a first meeting.

The SWOT analysis essay and the four questions we are (really) asking – Tracy Gojdics, Director & Class of 2007

SWOT image

One of the application essay questions asks applicants to analyze their career using the SWOT technique.   As a student you’ll become quite comfortable with SWOT analyses, but as an applicant it can be a bit confusing.  The information below is provided to help you as you think about to write for this required essay question.   We’ve taken the S, W, O and T and translated them to the four questions we are really asking.   I hope this helps as you contemplate your essay.   Upon completion you’ll not only feel better about having the essay done, but you’ll have a great career analysis to boot!

 

 

1.    S = your strengths.   Your strengths = what are your competitive advantages?

You will want to convey what you think your 3-5 competitive advantages/strengths are in thinking about your career and where it is today.  Be sure to explain each.

Ex:  I am a skillful negotiator.  I have negotiated numerous important contracts for my organization, which have resulted in lower costs and increased services from our vendor partners.   While negotiating contracts is part of my job, it is also something I enjoy doing and have mentored others in my organization through the negotiating process.

2.   W = your weaknesses.  Your weaknesses = What do you need to improve?

The admissions committee isn’t looking at your “weaknesses” so much as they are looking for whether or not you know what you need to improve as it relates to your career.   You should discuss 3-5 areas for improvement.

Ex:   I’m not a strong public speaker.   Giving presentations is something that I have been working on for the past year as I am sometimes asked to give presentations to various groups.  I get very nervous and am not super comfortable presenting, but recognizing this I have enrolled in a corporate class on giving better presentations.  

3.  O = Opportunities.    Your opportunities = how can you enhance or advance your career?

Unlike strengths or weaknesses, opportunities come from your external environment. You might think that “getting an MBA” is the answer we are looking for, but you’d be wrong.  Advancing your career means being proactive.  How are you being proactive with your career?  Discuss 3-5 things you are doing or could do to enhance or advance your career.

Ex:  Attend targeted association meetings.   Because I am interested in Product Management I have attended several speaker events and workshops through the Product Management Consortium.  Attending these events has also broadened my professional network.  

4.  T = Threats.   Threats = what could derail your career?

Just as with opportunities, threats come from your external environment.   The economy may always be a threat, but how is it a threat?  What else might be a threat?  Think about your product or service, your competitors, your customers, the global landscape or your industry as a whole.  These are just a few ideas to help get you started.  List and discuss 3-5 things that have or could derail your career.

Ex:   Our customers decide to go with another provider.  As budgets get tighter and margins begin to shrink, many of our corporate customers are talking with multiple vendors and are no longer willing to stay with our company just because that is what they have been doing.   The competition is fierce and losing customers would mean deep cuts to our organization and my unit in particular.

Don’t wait for the right moment

By Marcelo Alcantara, TMMBA Class of 2013

Earlier this year I decided to leave my job and start a new venture. It wasn’t an easy decision. I was well employed in a prominent role at my previous company. I helped them grow from an unknown Brazilian start-up to a global leader in the enterprise mobile application space. I was in the comfort zone. On top of that, I had just started the TMMBA program. Any time I had left to invest on parallel projects or leisure was gone. Definitely not the right moment to start a time-consuming and money-draining entrepreneurial venture.

But entrepreneurs do not wait for the right moment. As a matter of fact, if you wait for the right moment it may never come. This is one of situations where you need to trust your gut and go for it. And so I did. I left my job and I co-founded Qoiza.

Qoiza is my third entrepreneurial experience, but it is the first one in the US. We are privileged to live in a region that is known as one of the main tech hubs in the world. Seattle has a great ecosystem that makes life easier to any startup: large talent pool, specialized lawyers and accountants,  well established VC firms, and a large and active angel investment community. Everything you need to be successful is right here.

So far it has been a very rewarding and life-changing experience.  The indescribable feeling of creating something out of napkin notes into an usable product. The multiple pivots on which direction should we go. The long hours executing and developing the product. The pitches to VCs and angels. These are experiences that help you develop as a professional and as a leader no matter where your start-up will end up.

It has also been a great real-life opportunity to apply the concepts and theory we are learning in the TMMBA program. Some examples include setting up T-accounts and the first set of financial reporting documents (Accounting); create term sheets, define valuation and risk beta (Corp Finance); set the product value proposition and go-to-market strategy (Strategic Marketing).

Taking the first step is always the hardest part. For those of you who are thinking about starting a new venture, don’t wait for the right moment. Do it. You will not regret.

Is entrepreneurship for you?

Jeff Levy
Jeff Levy at the TMMBA & EMBA spring networking night

By Sara Jones, TMMBA Assistant Director & Class of 2012 Candidate

We recently had a networking night for students and alumni of the TMMBA and Executive MBA programs. Our speaker for the evening was Jeff Levy, an entrepreneur, coach, and mentor who has helped hundreds of individuals open their own franchise or small business. He’s also the co-author of Making the Jump into Small Business Ownernship (read an excerpt in this GeekWire post).

Jeff shared his entrepreneurial journey and views on what it takes to achieve small business ownership. He highlighted his personal challenges and achievements and the who, what, when, where, and why of entrepreneurship.  We followed-up with Jeff after the event with a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?

There have been many times in my career where I felt pride and a sense of accomplishment.  These usually came after achieving something that no one thought possible. Probably,  the most significant moment was when my partners and I put together a $35million package to buy the three division from Flow International to form Safeworks, LLC.  No one, including ourselves, during the process, knew how it would exactly come together. We never gave up on our dream and made it happen.

It’s not easy to take a leap from being employed (and the primary earner) to being an entrepreneur.  When is the right time to start my own business?  Is there a strategy that would provide the least impact to my family?

You are very right that it is not easy to leave the comfort of a regular paycheck. However,  workers today function in what is called the “new career economy.” A paycheck is not necessarily a synonym for security. At the executive level it is not uncommon to be in a different job, or in career transition every 3-4 years. What you want to avoid is having to start a business when not working as a result of a layoff. That is a lot of pressure unless you have a good severance and possibly Self Employed Assistance Plan benefits provided by the State of Washington.  I think the best strategy is to work on the planning part of your business while you have the comfort of the regular check.  Give particular thought to the capital side of the business. Do you have enough money set aside to meet your living expenses for up to a year (or more) in addition to the capital requirements for investing in the business. Once funding is secure it still takes the difficult task of balancing your dreams versus your fears. My family has always been supportive of my entrepreneurial pursuits.  They believed that my early career success working for others would be transferable to my own venture. As my wife said. In her wisdom, you have made money for others, it is time that you do it for yourself.

With the dramatic changes in technology and impending talent war, what are the pros and cons of being a full-time employee versus self-employed?

I think that there will be a talent war. It actually exists today for certain software engineers and programmers.  I do believe the jobs of the future will be “newer and fewer”. No matter what the demand may be for talent in a salaried environment, I don’t think it competes with the benefits of being your own boss.  Clearly, I have a bias in this regard. Workers tend to get comfortable living at the level of their W-2 income and don’t do enough to create real wealth or to control the most valuable thing they have, their time.  I also believe that technology will create many more opportunities for self-employment.

What is the number one personality trait you see in successful entrepreneurs?

I think the # one personality trait is optimism. The ability to look for the opportunity no matter what the difficulty or the challenge may be.  There are certainly other very important traits but you asked for one. If you are a pessimist trying to go into business, game over!

What is the single biggest obstacle encountered by aspiring entrepreneurs?

Here I need the latitude to give a few obstacles.  You might think it is the lack of capital, but I don’t believe that is what holds entrepreneurs back although it might delay entry or slow down the ramping up of the business. My story is a good example of working the plan until you make it happen.  Raising $35m looked like climbing Mt. Everest. The two biggest obstacles are being close minded and not having developed mastery of basic business management skills.

TMMBA Professional Communications course help students excel in today’s competitive business environment

Lorraine Howell, Professional Communications instructor

Communication is NOT a soft skill! You can draw a straight line from how a company communicates internally and externally to the bottom line results. The Professional Communications curriculum in the TMMBA program is designed to give students the skills, tools, and strategies they need to excel as leaders in today’s competitive business landscape.

In the first quarter topics include identifying and understanding different communications styles, communications across generational divides, the basics of effective presentations, and how to craft an “elevator speech.” These courses form the foundation of the content that follows in subsequent quarters. Students have an opportunity to practice their speaking skills, be videotaped, and receive individual feedback and coaching.

The next sessions focus on business writing skills, particularly email and other electronic communication, and non-verbal communications, including body language and cultural influences.  Other course topics include elements of persuasion and how to think on your feet and respond in any situation.

In the final stages of the course we dive deeper into the elements of great presentations. Students will learn how to create engaging introductions and compelling closes to their public presentations. They will have additional hands-on practice with more feedback and coaching.

In addition to the Professional Communications course work, instructors in the TMMBA program incorporate additional presentation practice opportunities in their classes. Over the eighteen months students develop confidence and a broad communications tool kit they can use as they pursue their individual career goals.