Imperial College Business School Careers offers tailored 1:1 support to students to help them achieve their career ambitions.
For students across our MBA programmes, many of them come to the programme wanting to accelerate their careers, pivot into a different role, transition industries, or do a famed “triple jump”, changing positions, industries and location in one career move.
No matter what their ambitions, it is the role of our Career Consultants to help them make their goal a reality, through 1:1 sessions, CV and cover letter help, mock interview practice and more.
Two of our Career Consultants, Mark Daley and Rachel Tonner, discuss how they support students, give an insight into their role and share a couple of student success stories on the MBA.
Working in career development in education represents my third career and builds upon previous careers managing retail operations for a luxury goods retailer and as an executive search consultant for the Consulting sector.
In the autumn of 2008, the global financial crash changed the executive search landscape, albeit temporarily. The immediate aftermath saw a recruitment freeze for many of my clients and with the prospect of facing months of very limited success, I decided it was time for a change and resigned.
After rapidly and unexpectedly securing five offers from competing firms I felt the need for something different thus rejecting them all. At that time, a headhunter reached out to me with a very specific set of requirements for a Careers role.
Eventually, following a meeting with Imperial College Business School I realised how well aligned I was for the role and how the type of work matched almost all of the elements of work and reward I sought. A head-hunter will always put the interests of the client ahead of the candidate, but I had always had a more consultative approach to clients and candidates, so career development turned out to be the perfect fit for my hard and soft skills as well as my own characteristics.
Why I love being a Career Consultant
Since taking up my first position, I have never looked back. I thoroughly enjoy supporting students through their time at Business School, helping them in many cases, to transition from a past career into a new one, enabling them to understand their transferable skills and experiences applicable for a change of direction. At the other end of the spectrum, working closely with MSc students with little or no relevant work experience, to secure their first step on the ladder.
I really enjoy getting to know the students as individuals and over a period of time, developing a strong and effective working relationship with them. In the beginning, getting an understanding of what they want out of their career and then working with them to map out an executable strategy to implement in the pursuit of that ambition.
One of the most amazing and totally unexpected aspects of working with international students over the years is that a number of them have become personal friends after graduating. I am now in the fortunate position to know that wherever I go in the world, I have someone to catch up with.
Student success story
There are often stand-out examples of my work with students, which make me really proud and is the most rewarding element of this job. One example is having worked with an MBA student this year who joined having decided to use the MBA to accelerate and grow out of their previous career. Having outgrown the job, for them the MBA was the opportunity to kick-start their professional growth. After an initial period of applying and some networking, I found that they were experiencing a great deal of despondency. They were considering returning to their previous career and seeing it as an option which was not so bad after all. The journey upon which the student had embarked all of a sudden seemed to have overwhelmed them and the mountain to climb was just too steep.
We sat together and really developed their channel to market strategy from just a CV and covering letter to really start networking and looking at areas connected to where they wanted to go as other options to explore. The development of a powerful and effective Linked In profile really helped and after a while, an interview came through with a leading global pharmaceutical firm. The interviews went well and a few months later received an offer for a really interesting job, perfectly aligned to their skills and experience as well as to their career ambitions.
For my part, I could understand the desire for career acceleration and saw the potential in this individual. I could understand that the task appeared too difficult and the size of the challenge insurmountable. But as an outsider looking in on this individuals’ situation, with the benefit of more experience, I could see that there was scope for great success here and that I just needed to guide and occasionally push in order for things to start to happen. This student has had a very good return on investment for their MBA and it has been through listening, accepting advice and being determined to follow through with a workable plan which has brought about such success. This, for me, is by far the most rewarding element of my job.
Careers is where I have spent most of my working life, starting in recruitment in 2007 where I quickly learned how complex and challenging it can be for job-seekers to secure offers, and for employers to appoint the right candidates. As my career has developed, it became even more evident to me that being in the right work environment and the right role has huge effects on people’s potential, career trajectory and also their mental health and happiness. To be part of the process that helps someone to find a workplace where they flourish is why I love being in Careers.
Over the years, I’ve run recruitment campaigns across many industries, from entry to director level hires and have set-up and led recruitment teams. A number of years ago I stepped out of direct recruitment and into Learning & Development, setting up career programmes and seeing my work contribute to the step after the job offer and into the development and growth of an employee.
I now work as a Career Consultant in Imperial College Business School, supporting MSc and Full-Time MBA students, and co-leading on the Career provision for Full-Time MBA learners.
An exciting an energising job
Put quite simply, I love my role. It is really exciting and energising to work directly with such a diverse group of students who have different backgrounds and aspirations, but the same desire to succeed. I am able to share the lessons I learned as a recruiter and help inform students about the recruitment process they’re going through so they feel prepared and ready.
An average day is varied and can include running large workshops, facilitating small group sessions that practice interview rounds and group assessments, and having 1:1 appointments with my MBA students (of which I, and the other Consultants have separate portfolios of students we support). In the quieter, summer months, I’ll be creating new content for the next cohort to access, attending conferences to keep updated with recruitment trends and learn what particular companies are recruiting for and what they want to see from applicants.
My favourite part of my role is running mock interviews. To be able to take a part of the recruitment process which candidates often find stressful and has the lowest levels of confidence attached, and being able to pinpoint how people can present themselves more effectively, or feedback their strong points, is extremely satisfying.
My biggest highlight to date: student success story
One of my biggest highlights to date at Imperial has been working with an MBA student who was changing careers, and although extremely intelligent and capable, would take on a nervous, unconfident character through interviews, as if a switch from her normal-self had gone off. I loved working with her, giving her practical and specific feedback, observing the improvement in her performance and eventually seeing her secure a job offer from one of the most competitive top investment banks.
This type of tailored support is what makes Imperial College Business School unique.
Many students feedback to us that they are surprised and pleased to hear how different, useful and individual the support they receive from Careers is compared to their previous universities. The Imperial Career Consultants genuinely care when a student progresses in an application and gets one steps closer to a job. We make a real effort to provide an excellent level of service, and constantly share amongst the team of consultants how we can be more helpful and provide more ideas and information to particular students and their challenges.
When students are working with Consultants they don’t only get the 1:1 tailored approach, they get a team of Career Consultants (and ex-recruitment professionals) behind them, feeding into that support and encouragement to ensure it is as impactful as it could possibly be and give the student the best possible opportunity to secure the role they want.