How You Can Prepare Yourself

How You Can Prepare Yourself

You will be extremely busy in the first semester of your first year, so there are some important things you can do now to get ready for the next step in your career.

Think about your post-MBA goals

We know that you stated a goal when you applied to the school; we also know that goals change. But as early as August you may be introducing yourself to potential employers, and the clearer you can be about who you are and what you want, the better impression you will make.

Incoming students will have access to the CareerLeader assessment when their deposit has been paid. A link will be sent out to those students with information on how to login. For any questions regarding CareerLeader, please email

If you are not sure about what you want to do, that's OK, but you should be knowledgeable about the options. Read about job functions that MBA graduates perform in books such as VAULT MBA Career Bible or The WetFeet Insider Guide to Industries and Careers for MBAs. Our Management Library also provides students with several career and industry guides on their website. Also plan to talk with anyone you know who as an MBA about his or her career path and current responsibilities.

Check out our recommended reading for some suggestions on how to get smart!

Cultivate your Network and Create/Update your LinkedIn Profile

Make sure you leave your current employer on good terms. You never know when you'll need a reference or referral and it's best never to burn bridges. Also, take time to reconnect with former managers and co-workers or undergraduate friends and classmates. Let them know you're planning on going back to school and ask them to let you know if they hear about internships or opportunities that may interest you in a year.

For LinkedIn

  • Include work-appropriate photo (also note that we will take professional photos of each student during Orientation)
  • Expand your network connections
  • Gather recommendations from current and past managers, colleagues
  • Incorporate job responsibilities and quantify successes
  • Add books, slideshows as appropriate
  • Join groups

More about LinkedIn and the job search: I'm on LinkedIn, Now What? blog and book

Clean up your on-line image

This means Facebook and other social networks - employers do search them!

Draft résumé in Johnson Format

Your one-page MBA resume will be a key tool that should be ready by early fall. Company representatives may ask for it in September and it should be ready for the résumé book by early October. Not only is the document important, but the process of preparing it forces you to think about your skills, accomplishments, and interests.

In response to requests from employers that student résumés follow a consistent format, we have developed an official Johnson résumé template. In order for your resume to be included in our résumé book, we ask that you use this template.

The Johnson Résumé Template will help you:

  • Put items in reverse chronological order
  • Begin with education, then summarize work experience, then highlight personal interests
  • State accomplishments rather than tasks, and wherever possible, include quantified results, e.g. "Developed innovative order-processing system that resulted in 50% reduction in error rate and 25% decrease in order-fulfillment time."
  • Begin these statements of achievement with strong past-tense verbs, e.g., coordinated, managed, oversaw, developed, identified.
  • Stress achievements that you are most eager to discuss
  • If you are switching job functions, emphasize transferable skills sought by your target employers, such as analysis, team-building, problem-solving, communication, leadership. Back up your claim to have these skills with solid examples and make sure you relate your experience to your career goals.
  • Exclude undergraduate internships or co-ops unless they are your only work experience or they were extremely unusual.
  • Omit personal information such as height, weight, gender, marital status.

Work on your Problem-Action-Result statements

PAR stories will help you immensely in preparing for interviews and in creating your résumé.You should develop at least two stories for each skill that is critical for the job for which you are interviewing, as the interviewer will often say, “Give me another example.”

For each skill, develop the following:

  • An experience explaining the problem or situation (explained in 30 seconds)
  • The action you took (told in 1–2 minutes)
  • The result (summarized in 30 seconds)
  • Most of your PARs should be work related. Nevertheless, feel free to incorporate good stories from outside the work environment. Consider extracurricular activities, school, and volunteer work.

Buy a suit and dress shoes

Most employers still require business attire for interviews and many banks even expect students to be dressed-up for briefings. It's hard to shop for suits in Ithaca, so you should probably get this out of the way before you get here. Also invest in comfortable black dress shoes. If you are looking for a job in investment banking, you'll be doing a lot of walking on the streets of Manhattan. Our Retail & Luxury Club has put together two helpful documents – Professional Dress Tips for Women and Professional Dress Tips for Men.