As my MBA at IE Business School came to a close, I found myself wondering how this will all work out. I was a software engineer from the automotive industry in Detroit, MI, USA. Now I was looking for work in business development or sales, in the tech industry, somewhere in Europe. This in the MBA world is know as a triple jump. Attempting to change job function, industry and location. At every business school this is considered the hardest thing to do, to change all three at the same time. Some people are lucky enough to do it and many fail. It’s not for lack of trying, but many times is due to lack of networking, lack of language skills or lack of experience. In hindsight, I wish that I would have known how hard this feat was before I started my pursuit of an MBA, but maybe I can help the next wave of people looking for a change through getting their MBA.
If you are attempting the triple jump, you need to be prepared! The cold dose of reality is that companies will not be beating down your door to hire you just because you have an MBA from a good school. You will be competing against the best candidates from all over the world. Keep in mind when attempting the triple jump that you will be competing for jobs against people that have worked in that location, job function, industry or any combination of the three, so that means you must be that much more prepared than they are to succeed.
This means planning! Research the location, the industry that you’re aiming to work in and the job function. If you don’t have the experience then at least you can try to attain the knowledge. Of course you can find a wealth of information on just about any topic with a quick search of the internet, but that really only gives you a portion of the information you need. You need to start contacting people! The triple jump isn’t for the wall flower. Getting first hand knowledge from people that have been there is the best research. And don’t stop at one person! Ask as many people as you can. Use tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and your personal network. I must have talked to well over 40 people about so many different facets of my search. Talking to people also helped me narrow down where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I thought about being a banker, a consultant or any number or things, but after talking to people, it helped me see that while these are great jobs for some people, it didn’t really fit for me. I did this for all the things I was considering, including location and industry as well. Generally people are more than willing to help. Don’t just send a connection request and start blurting out your questions. Take the time to find out who your talking to and let them know who you are and also don’t forget to say thank you and ask for permission to follow up with them if you have more questions. Finally on my rant for talking to people, please pay it forward! Many people that I knew and didn’t know were willing to take time out of their day to talk to me and share their experiences when they didn’t have to. I will do the same when anyone asks me and I hope that you will too.
Of course there are other things you should be doing outside of research. Commit! If you are looking for a job in a place where you don’t speak the language, then you need to start learning. Sometimes just showing that you are attempting to learn the language is enough for the employer, and if they feel confident that you will continue to learn and become more fluent, it could get you the job! Also, keep in mind skills needed for the job. For instance, you might be looking at a job that involves big data and it might be a good idea to learn about the technology behind it as well as maybe some programming. You might not need deep knowledge for the job but the more you know, the more you stand out! Also, for many of my friends, visas are a huge pain point. Do your research on how visas work in your target destination and how the laws work for your specific nationality. Anything you can do to be in the place where your searching will increase your odds of getting interviews and possibly the job.
My last suggestion is to stay committed and believe that it’s a question of WHEN not IF you get the job you want, in the industry you want, in the location you want.
As for me, with a combination of research (online and talking to many people), working hard on my German, leveraging my network and previous experience, I found a job in sales, in the tech industry, in Europe!
Good luck to everyone trying to make the jump!