How to Build a Sustainable Career Pyramid
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How to Build a Sustainable Career Pyramid

Life as an MBA student is full of twists and turns on your path to your next career. You ask yourself the same questions over and over again, like: What industry and job do I want to squeeze my way into? What should I learn at b-school to reach my career goals?

Tackling these and other questions head on, I filled my first year by taking tough courses, searching for jobs, polishing my resume and doing mock interviews, like most MBA students. Thank-you-but-no emails relentlessly filled my inbox, even though I saw myself as qualified for many of the positions. Then popped up an offer from Genentech and I no longer felt like I was losing the race.

But it wasn’t quite the happy ending I expected. At Genentech it was stressful being around such brilliant, competitive colleagues, who each seemed to have a clear path forward. Fortunately, being exposed to senior executive mentors, I was able to learn a few key steps in crafting a strategic approach toward building a sustainable career pyramid:

  • Master as many transferable skills as possible, such as interpersonal and communication skills, teamwork and managing change. This will set a foundation that allows you to build professional skills upon.  
  • The firmer and broader the foundation is, the higher your career pyramid will be and the faster you can climb to the top.
  • Ensure that you are able to apply these transferable skills to future employment settings. 
  • Work out a study plan for the skills you want to acquire and how to get them, whether it’s through specific campus activities, academic projects, internships, or networking. There are undoubtedly more to consider, but working on two competencies at a time is plenty.
  • Assess yourself periodically and don’t forget to give yourself some credit for working hard.

Though my internship at a world-class biopharmaceutical company is coming to an end, I’m still learning. For the second year of my MBA program, I will be focusing more on my communication skills, like writing blog posts.

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