Saturday, May 1, 2010

What I don’t like about Cambridge – Part II: Careers Team

Following my commitment to share the thoughts on the things I don’t like, I’ll continue with the negative posts. And today I’d like to talk about a very delicate issue, the careers team and its role.
In my view, the careers team should be responsible for mainly three roles:

1.Assisting current students with their career management
2.Raise Cambridge’s profile as a school and ensure as many on campus visits as possible
3.Support and tap into the alumni network

Your view on the careers team will most likely depend on your situation at the end of the MBA. Not surprisingly, people who secured a job early are mostly happy and people who are still to secure a job at the end are not so pleased with the careers team assistance. Having said that, l must tell you I was in the former group, having secured a position before ending the MBA, so I feel I’m fairly unbiased to show my general discontent.

Even before starting to comment on each of the roles I should make a general remark. During the year of 2007/2008 there were two members in the careers team. When we joined in September it was announced the school wanted to add a third person to complete the team. I don’t remember exactly when this third person was recruited but I do remember it was close to the end of the course. Yes…end of the course! I find it shocking that it takes more than 6 months to recruit someone and in the meanwhile a whole class is affected.

Obviously, if the team is small, one can’t expect miracles and I’m sure the team did its best but it is the school’s responsibility to take care of these things. Because Judge Business School is part of the University, many decisions are taken by the University and some processes can be extremely slow. Not sure if this is the reason why it took so long to have a third person.
But having a look at the three roles I mentioned, here are my thoughts:

1.Generally they did this role fairly well, organizing workshops and having at least one 1-to-1 meeting with each student. However, there were many unavailability issues and the response time was fairly slow. We were asked to submit any documents for their screening with 72h notice, to ensure enough time for review. Truth is in many occasions we got answers way after the 72h and at least one (from personal experience), I got comments on documents way beyond the deadline set by the company I was applying to.

2.This is where I think they failed the most. There are some in campus presentations, but Cambridge is clearly lagging behind the likes of LBS or Insead. The top companies generally don’t go to campus nor there is a privileged relationship with their recruitment services. In most cases, we’re simply told to check their website and apply online. I know it’s not easy to have on campus visits, but I would expect more investment in raising the school’s profile.

3.As I mentioned in my previous post, the alumni network almost doesn’t exist, which is a shame. In many occasions, there will be alumni in managerial positions in companies we want to apply to. It was always a struggle to get the careers team to find them for us and (again, using my personal experience), when they did some times the deadlines were gone. Would it be that hard to have a nice database of alumni? Whenever I get contact, I tend to try to help or give advice, and most of my colleagues do the same. So we’re willing to help, but I don’t think current students are provided with the (right) contacts in a structured way. Most of the contacts I get happen because someone knew a colleague of mine pre-MBA.
About sharing opportunities with the alumni network, I think it’s even worse. Like I said, it would be nice to have some kind of bill board where alumni could announce vacancies for current and former students.

These are my views only and may not reflect the general feeling of the class. As I said, some students were happy, other students were very unhappy. It also doesn’t mean the people in the team were not nice, it just means that in my view there was a structural problem with the career management aspect of the MBA. What I also don’t understand is the fact many of the school services were subject to a survey close to the end of the course. Unfortunately, the careers team was not. That would most likely show what was the general feeling.
As an end note, I should say the team has been enlarged ever since, so it is likely that things have improved. This view is based on the year 2007/2008 alone.

1 comment:

Stan said...

As the Cambridge MBA alumni (1998/1999), it's quite sad to see that the career support for the MBA students is still so poor...