Why You Need an MBA Job You’re Really Passionate About

Bob wants to use an MBA to make the world a better place. Great! Let's try to help them do that!

It's Bob week! That means a new video EVERY WEEK DAY where Angela Guido coaches one of our lovely subscribers (who are all called Bob, weird!) on how they can get into business school.

We've given a lot of advice over the years, but how do you apply it to your MBA application? That's what our #mbabob series is all about!

Give it up for Bob!

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to MBA Monday. I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, and you are watching another episode of the Bob Project. We are talking to everyone who's applying to business school named Bob. If your name is Bob, you should talk to us. Even if your name isn't Bob, you should consider talking to us. You can sign up for one of these free, mini MBA coaching sessions at careerprotocol.com/bob and if you’re fit, you can be a member of the Bob community and join one of these awesome, free MBA advice calls. What we're doing today is talking to Bob about her MBA candidacy and let me share with you Bob’s statistics.

So today we're talking to Bob. Bob went to Spelman College, majoring in biochemistry, and graduating in 2020 with a whopping 3.82 GPA. She works right now in executive recruitment, hasn't taken the test score, but she's targeting some of the very best schools on the East Coast of the United States. Say hello, Bob, and give us a little bit of an introduction about yourself, if you would.

Bob: Hello! Okay, well, I graduated Spelman in 2020. I was planning on going to medical school, which is why I majored in biochemistry, and I decided that I didn't want to do that and that was gross. So I moved into executive recruitment specifically for big pharma, life science companies, and that's what I'm doing currently. I don't love it, so I am hoping to go get my MBA to do a career pivot.

Angel: Amazing. Great. So we talk to a lot of folks who are at various points in their careers, and I would say that the position you're in is maybe the most common reason for pursuing an MBA. Even the “Well, I thought I was going to be a doctor, and then I came to my senses.”. That's a surprisingly common trajectory for people because, look, we're so uncreative as a species. We're still trapped in this mentality where there's three jobs that you can get after college and if you want to help people, the best one to do is to become a doctor. So I can't tell you how many people we work with who are like recovering med students in some form. So then it's like you get to college and it's like “Oh, I'm going to be a doctor. No, I'm not!”. Then you don't have any idea what you're going to do so you make your best guess, and then you get as far as you get, and you're like “Okay, I'm pretty competent. I can do stuff. I care about stuff. I can make stuff happen. Now what?”, and then MBA to the rescue. MBA to the rescue because it gives you the chance to make a big move. However, it's really useful to have an idea of where you want to move to. So, this is probably what we're going to spend the most time talking about, is your career game plan. It's, I think, honestly, the most under-contemplated part of the application. There are a lot of things that left to their own devices, people won't dig deep into their career game plan. They also likely won't dig deep into their own character and their own stories and if you have been listening to this channel for even a little while, you know how important we think both of those things are. But given where you are, given where you come from, given where you are, you're at a perfect point for an MBA. It's like the most common motivation. It's like “I think I'm pretty awesome, but I'm not super happy and I know I want to do more. I know I want to have more impact and I know I want to stay roughly in the business field, so I want an MBA.”. Most of most common situation of people who are seeking an MBA so you're in the right place. Good news! You got yourself to the right place. Perfect. Okay, so where do I want to take this conversation? Here's what I want to do, let me do this. I'm going to show you my framework, which you've probably seen before.

Certainly, the audience has seen this before. This is our framework for the five things that really matter and that schools are really evaluating when they look at your MBA candidacy and we call these your five profiles. So you've got your brain power profile: this is just your GPA and your test score. It's pretty much that. If you take additional coursework, that's included. You are already on a solid foundation with a 3.82. That's way above the average GPA at most schools, for business schools. I know you're working on the test, do well on the test, get as good of a score as you can get. That's important. We'll skip over that advice because I'm always harping on that but you know what you got to do. That's the brain power profile. But that's just like 20% max of what goes into this. The rest is going to be your career progress, your fit with the school, which is just like, do you want to be at that school? Are you really right for the MBA? Have you thought it through? Is it really going to add value, and then are you going to be able to add value while you're on campus? That's school fit. Passion is, do you go beyond punching your time card? Are you someone who cares about stuff, whatever it is? That's that. Then character is your values, like what drives you? What you're made of? Are you ethical, bottom line? But even beyond that, are you generous? Are you kind? Do you have a vision for impact that they can sponsor because that's, of course, what they want to do. All of this stuff is what's going to ultimately determine the outcome. So when you think about the career game plan part, which is like your vision for the future, how an MBA fits in, where you're headed, it really involves all four of these. It has to do with how far you've made it so far and where you're headed next. It has to do with the relevance and importance of an MBA and specifically the MBA programs you're applying to and helping you fulfill your vision. It also relates to your passion because you better not be pursuing a career that you're not passionate about, otherwise, there is no point in getting an MBA. Then it also involves your character, because everything you do needs to be an expression of your values, including your future goals, your participation in the MBA, and the application of the MBA itself. All of this is on the table when we're talking about your career game plan so that’s where we’re going to start. When I looked at all the information you sent me and your form, I think — like everyone I talked to — your resume is not yet an MBA resume. You need to upgrade it. We're giving all of our Bobs free access to our badass Resume Protocol course so that you can upgrade your resume according to our tools for free and then have a couple of other special bonuses and discounts for you, which we'll talk about later. I'm not going to dig into this now because it's pretty straightforward and you'll figure it out once you get into it but basically, you need to really make sure that the impact that you've had is clear on your resume so they know “Okay, girl can produce results. She knows what she's doing. She can meet targets. She can get things done and so now she's ready to lead.”. That's bottom line, that's the idea. So then the question is, how are you going to lead? What are you going to lead? Why are you going to lead? So let's talk about your career game plan. You signaled this when you submitted the Bob form, you said “Oh, I don't know. I don't really know what I want to do, exactly. I care about DEI, and I feel like not every company lives up to the values that they're stating.”, so that’s a passion that's clearly there. You're mad about a disconnect that you see in the world. That's always a good starting point for passion. Then you have a bunch of different things that are like “Well, I could do consulting. I could do marketing. I don't know.”. So let's talk about your career to date and let's just follow the journey a little bit. So how did you get to be doing what you're doing now?

Bob: I knew someone at the company I ended up working at. I'd never heard of executive recruiting before, it seems like everyone just falls into it. I joined the medical device team as a recruiter. I was supposed to be an associate recruiter, like shadowing people first, but they just had so many searches coming in that I just started recruiting immediately. I really did enjoy the teamwork aspect of it, meeting new people, a bunch of new candidates, working with different companies, so that has been good. Since then, I transitioned to a much smaller company of only about 35 people. My previous company had over 10,000 employees, and I just found it a little bit impersonal. So, I switched companies and right now, I am a senior research associate on the path to becoming a recruiter. These are much more scientific roles. So things I am much more interested in, like chief development officer, chief medical officer, things such as that. So I'm enjoying it right now, but it's not what I want to be in forever.

Angela: Yeah. So you've given me a glimpse of some of the things you love about it. You love the teamwork, sounds like you're interested also in the research. I'm guessing you like the puzzle piece fitting of people into roles, I'm just imagining. What want about it, maybe, isn't as fulfilling for you as you might like it to be?

Bob: I find it to be a little bit monotonous, just looking on LinkedIn every single day at different profiles, so I don't enjoy that part. And maybe like some of the client work, I just find that bending over completely backwards for clients is something that I don't think I'm willing to do in the future when I am in that position.

Angela: Very good insight. So what you're basically saying is client service ain't for me?

Bob: I don't think so.

Angela: Really, congratulations for having that insight because it isn't for everyone. My job is client service. As a career coach, we live and breathe supporting our clients in what they need. Of course, we have boundaries, we don't do absolutely everything, but we do everything they need within the boundaries. And that is the definition of client service. And so, to me that suggests that you should not pursue a role in consulting because guess what consulting is? Client service. Now, for your first couple of years, you'll be buffered by the senior people. So you're not going to have to be the one always addressing client concerns and bending over backwards, but there will be some late nights where you will have to bend over backwards because either your manager or the client or somebody said “Well, just kidding. We need this model done a totally different way and we need it by tomorrow.”. That will happen once in a while. Part of what people don't like about consulting is the fact that, especially in the early years, you're quite beholden to others, although it's not necessarily the client in the early years, it's more the rest of the team at the consulting firm. The more senior you get, the more it's all about clients and taking care of clients. So that's not to say that you couldn't do consulting for a couple of years and still benefit from it and still enjoy it, but that probably is not going to be your destination if you're not all about client service. That's a really good insight because it's really true that it's not for everyone, and not everyone knows that before suffering. So it's good that you know that about yourself. So then that points to maybe other pathways being a better choice. So let's talk about what is maybe exciting for you. So as you look ahead and you think about where you might want to be in five years and what you might like to be doing, what does that look like? Just spit balling.

Bob: I think I definitely still want to stay in the realm of life science and something where I can be creative and just work with a bunch of people, maybe within the company instead of outside. So that's how I got to product marketing. The one thing that I have appreciated about my job is it has introduced me to different positions that I knew nothing about. That's what I'm maybe leaning towards, like a product marketing role at a pharmaceutical company or medical device, really helping get the product out there and helping them develop it.

Angela: Now, let's talk about what you mean by the word creativity. So this this is an incredibly important word in one's “happy at work” profile and it's incredibly important that you know what it means to you, and you may or may not actually know that yet. So you tell me, when you say be creative, what do you mean?

Bob: That the days just aren't the same and there's not a completely standard process for everything and that my ideas are able to be inputted in there in some way.

Angela: Great. So that's not creativity, that's autonomy. That's different. That's like, don't give me the playbook, give me the job to do. Let me write the playbook. So that's like, you want authority to do your job the way you want to do it, to contribute, to find your own way, to maybe get it wrong and then fix it, like that thing. Now, that's not incompatible with creativity. It's just different from creativity. When I hear creativity, I'm thinking graphic design, I'm thinking writing, I'm thinking things like you want to be inventive and if those are priorities for you, that's also really important to know. Because if you're someone who needs to be actually creating new things, whether that's PowerPoint presentations or writing or videos or information or whatever, if you're the person who has to be creating things, you will suffer in any job that doesn't allow you to do that. Most people don't have that wiring, actually. They want to be able to use their brain and they want to be able to contribute, but they don't actually feel like they need to be creating stuff. So what you're saying is “I want a little more freedom to find my way in my role, and I want to be challenged a lot more in diverse ways day to day.”. Those are the two things that we can say for sure about what you said. So almost any post-MBA job is going to get you that, good news, because the MBA provides a lot of things. There are a lot of things that people think it provides that it doesn't provide, and then there are a lot of things that it does provide. One of the things that for sure it always does is it marks you in the job market as someone who is basically willing to lead, willing to take responsibility for something and willing to make things happen. It doesn't necessarily mean you're yet competent at those things when you graduate, but it means that you're willing. That's why you go to business school is because you want those things for your career. So almost any role you're going to pursue in the life sciences space post MBA will give you some of that for sure. Then the question is, where is it going to be more interesting for you to make your mark and how do you want to be spending your time? So let's envision that. What are some of the tasks that you really enjoy or that you think you might enjoy that maybe you haven’t experienced yet?

Bob: I think that maybe helping in the creation of a product would be cool, like the clinical trials. Maybe helping choose the patients, things such as that, because a lot of times clinical trials are not diverse and diverse individuals are not included.

Angela: See, now you're cracking into a giant ten-ton vat of worms with this one. You're basically saying most of the world isn't taken into account in the healthcare system and somebody needs to do something about that. Right you are, my friend. Right you are. Do you subscribe to The Broadsheet? I've been reading all about just the devastating evacuation of health care companies from the women's health space. I mean, we're not even talking diversity, this is half the population here. We haven't even gotten into the different categories that are getting no attention at all. Even women can't get the right level of investment. Yeah. You're pointing to a huge problem, so you might start to formulate a thesis around like “You know what? I'm going to move the needle on this in my career. Why not? I've got fifty years to give my life to the public domain in my career. This is going to be the hill that I'm going to die on. I am going to get more diverse people better attention in health care, trials, drug development, marketing, etc.”. That's interesting. That's a burning platform right there. That's a big cause to dedicate yourself to. Not saying you have to do it, but if you start to think like “Yeah, actually, yeah, I'm going to try that!”, then now a whole bunch of things become open to you. So things like going to work directly in pharma, but could also be working on the payer provider side, hospital system. It could also be on the marketing/agency side. So developing focus groups, markets, advertising, but could also be on the consulting side. And I hate to say it, but it also reopens the medical school pathway because the people who are likely playing the role that you just described of clinical trials, figuring out who's included and whatever. Those are scientists, I think, more than they are marketers.

Bob: That's true.

Angela: So not saying to open the medical school conversation again, but you want to be thinking about where is my juju, my mojo? Where is what I have to bring to the table going to have the biggest impact in the cause that I care about? You've already ruled out science. And I think that was also quite wise. I think you were like “Medicine, no. I want to help people, yes. I want to have an impact, but in a patient-doctor context or in a scientific context no, that's not for me. That's not going to bring forth my best.”. So that's good, that's an important insight. That's not going to be the path. So then the question is, which business pathway gets you most in line to impact that? I think product development, product marketing, that starts to get you in the right direction, but then it even opens up things like political office and lobbying. Maybe you're like “Hey, FDA, make it so that at least 20% of people in every study have to be diverse.”. Just change the laws. So a lot of different ways to go if that's going to be your platform, right? And again, we're just spit balling here. That doesn't have to be your platform but the process of figuring out your career game plan, and this was actually a really interesting — you brought out a really interesting aspect of our coaching in this conversation — because figuring out your career game plan is not a trivial matter. When we work with our clients, it's many hours of work on your part, on our part. We're really trying to map all that you're about and all that's important to you, and then we're trying to plug that into what jobs actually exist and are going to give you what you want. Frequently it's not at all the first thing you think. My concern with you going down the product marketing in pharma path is that then your job is just to sell more of the thing, whatever the thing is.

Bob: That's true.

Angela: And I don't think you're going to like that. So if it's a product that you think is unequivocally good for everyone, which I don't know where such a product ever existed, but if it was a product that you really loved, then that's maybe going to be exciting to you, but that isn't how it works. They're going to be like “Here's your pill. Sell more of it.”, and I'm not sure you're going to like that. So if I look at everything you're showing me, it's like, you're interested in DI, you're interested in underrepresented folk, you do like the life sciences health care space. Maybe your path is into some consumer goods company that's addressing physical needs, health care needs of diverse individuals? There are a lot of companies that are doing over-the-counter things or even health and well-being, body care things that aren't even necessarily medicinal. If you're just like, I just want more diverse people to have more access to products that help them, then there are lots of small companies doing really interesting things, even alternative forms of health insurance or preventative treatments that are free or even vitamins. There are lots of different people that are with you on this that are actually trying to solve this problem in different ways. My gut says that you're going to be more excited to be in a smaller medium organization that's doing something kind of scrappy, but something with a big mission and a big heart in that space and actively serving the people that you really care about. This now comes down to certain kinds of research, talking to people, ferreting out some of these companies that are doing interesting things. The MBA will absolutely help you position yourself for a job like this. The MBA is absolutely a good fit for you. However, I think you still have a ton of work to do to figure out exactly what you want to do and there are two layers to this. So when we work with our clients, we have a two-stage process of development, of career game plan development. The first career game plan is “What are you going to write about in your essays?”, and that has a different bar because first of all, it has to inspire you. It has to legitimately inspire you because when you get into an interview, you have to be really excited about what you're talking about. You cannot fake that. And then it also has to be credible. It has to make sense from where you're coming from. There has to be some a bridge to that through the MBA. So that's like the first step and that's a really valuable and useful step because you're getting the values, but you're also reality checking yourself and making sure it's like, “Yeah, I could go and get this.”. We really put you through the paces on this. We make you connect with people who do the kinds of jobs that you want to have. You go talk to them, then we talk about it. So there's that whole process. Then after you get in, we throw away your essays and you revisit the whole question again, now with the total freedom of like “Okay, now I'm going to have all these options for recruiting during my MBA. Which ones do I really want?”. That's a different game because now it's like, who cares if it's credible? You just go for what you want and then you do what it's going to take you to get there and that's a whole different challenge. That's why we have our YOMO program, which stands for You Only MBA Once. We also call it the MBA Recruiting Protocol. It's to help you really get ready for MBA recruiting so that you're not getting to campus and like “What do I want to do? I'm going to figure it out over the next two years.”. No, you need to be ready for internship recruiting in November. You get to campus in September, you’ve got to have an idea in November. You need to arrive with some ideas. For someone like you that is so essential because your background, while it has prepared you for business school, it's given you some good experience, given you a solid network, it's so far away from whatever it is that you think you want to do that the journey to getting to what you actually want is going to take a lot of focused effort on your part. The MBA program is absolutely going to help you, but it's not going to do much of that work for you. You've got to do that work for yourself. You're the kind of person who the risk of you graduating with a job that you're not that happy about is actually very high. This is why we have the two steps because we want you to get into school — so you need a credible plan — but then we want you to really reassess and really get ready to make the most of the pivot so that you can actually get the job that you really want. That’s a whole separate step that most people don’t even think about. So by the way, those of you watching, if you're interested in YOMO you can watch my recruiting masterclass and see if you want to join us for YOMO 2023. We do it every year to help folks like you just get ready for their MBA. So this is the bulk, apart from your test score, which, of course, you want to crush that to the best of your ability. Then, of course, you're going to need to write great essays that showcase your character and your passions. You are targeting three schools, Columbia, NYU, and Morton, all of which care very much about your career game plan. They're all very, very concerned about you being able to get the job that you say you want. So you need a target, you need a set of targets, that is credible and that you're actually excited about. That's the work you got to do between now and September, in addition to writing your essays, is really drilling down and answering some of those questions. And it's exciting, right? It's exciting because you're like a kid in a candy shop in a way when you get to MBA recruiting. It's really just like “What do I really want? What actually really excites me?”, and now is the time. Now and over the next year, before you start your MBA, is really the time to do all that thinking because you will not have time to do it during your MBA. Not at all. You will have no time for self-reflection during the MBA. Otherwise, I think we really drilled down on your career game plan. Your profile is actually quite solid. You've got a lot of great community activism in your past. You've got a super solid GPA, strong career trajectory in your field, and the right reasons for wanting to go to business school. It's now just test score and then application execution, which for you is going to be 60% career game planning and personal statement writing, especially because of the schools that you're targeting. I think these schools are going to take you quite seriously because you are a good fit. You are a good fit for an MBA and you will benefit from it, and so it's yours to lay it out for them. I love talking to people who, like you, are like “I have something to offer. I haven't gotten to offer it yet and so I need an MBA so that I can just give what I have to give in my career.”. That's why I do this job year after year because we get to help people fulfill their own vision for contribution to humanity. It's just the biggest privilege, what we get to do. I'm really, really rooting for you on this journey. I'm really hoping not just that you're going to get into school, but that you're going to graduate with a job that really, really suits your talent and desire for impact. Those of you watching, if you're rooting for Bob, please leave us a comment and tell us that you're rooting for her to find her way to having the impact that she wants to have because we're all counting on all of you. We're all counting on the Bobs to make this world work for everyone. This was a great conversation. I can't remember if I already talked about this. I don't think I mentioned MBA 101? I always want to mention MBA 101. You just head on over to careerprotocol.com/mba101. That is our free MBA 101 class. It's a five-video installment with downloads and bonuses of all the stuff you’ve got to keep in mind to apply to business school. It's a free course. The career game plan lesson is lesson number three in there. Hopefully, if you watch this video, you understand the significance of that piece of your application. It's not trivial. It's not a box to check. It's really foundational to presenting and inspiring candidacy to schools so check out MBA 101. If you want to be a Bob, as always, careerprotocol.com/bob. We'll see you here next week on MBA Monday! Say bye, Bob.

Bob: Thank you. Bye, everybody!

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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