Finding the right fit
The Kellogg School’s Career Management Center offers students more than job-search guidance — it equips them with the skills to pursue a fulfilling lifelong career By Amy Trang
8/27/2009 - Trent Lee ’09 was focused on a consulting career when he entered the Kellogg School in 2007.
But his true interests lay elsewhere — a fact that became clear when recruiter feedback revealed that Lee wasn’t showing great enthusiasm for the consulting field.
“I thought I knew what I wanted to do,” Lee said. “But I wasn’t feeling passionate about consulting projects. I was really worn out from interviewing and confused about my next direction.”
Lee’s follow-up conversations with a counselor at the Kellogg School’s Career Management Center helped him realize that his true interest was marketing. But Lee worried that his background in engineering would make him less attractive to recruiters. The center’s counselors assured him otherwise, and with their encouragement and advice, he refocused his résumé, cover letter and recruiter pitch.
“I never really took the time to re-evaluate my career choices once I dove into the schoolwork at Kellogg,” Lee said. “After finding that I wanted to go into marketing, I felt re-energized. I found something I was passionate about.”
A summer marketing internship in 2008 at Burger King Corp. laid the groundwork for Lee’s new career path. In August 2009, he started as an assistant brand manager for Frito-Lay Inc.
“My counselor helped me come to clarity on what I wanted to do,” Lee said. “She provoked me to think about things and make sure that I was going in the right direction. It made me step back and reflect, rather than just follow the masses on the job search.”
Lee is not alone. This year, students faced a job market far more challenging than those in years past. In response, the center has worked much more closely with students to find jobs and summer internships.
“The economy is not their fault,” said Liza Kirkpatrick, associate director of the center. “They can’t control it. But they can choose to control the things they are able to, such as networking with people and having a good résumé and cover letter. There are jobs out there.”
The center helps students strengthen job-hunting skills that will serve them throughout their careers.
Through a self-assessment tool, students identify key skills and interests. The findings can help guide students to industries or companies based on their likes and dislikes — and reveal directions they may not have considered, Kirkpatrick said.
Students also receive one-on-one support and advice from career counselors. That unique attention helped Cristina Taboada ’09 focus her career path in her second year. She was interested in international development, but admits that she wasn’t clearly expressing her interests or passions in job interviews.
“It was stressful because I couldn’t put words to what I wanted to do,” Taboada said.
After hearing stories from peers about their success with the Career Management Center, Taboada met with Kirkpatrick, who helped her focus on three or four industries and identify contacts in the field. Taboada ultimately landed a position at global silicones manufacturer Dow Corning. She now works in international business development in the company’s solar solutions group in Belgium.
“Liza was instrumental in setting me up for success,” Taboada said. “I needed someone to tell me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do to make those changes.”
Kirkpatrick said the center’s counselors are guides; students do the legwork to get hired.
“We don’t set deadlines for them; it’s a self-driven career search,” Kirkpatrick said. “It takes discipline and personal accountability. Students who have gone through the off-campus job search process have developed a skill set that will serve them in the long term again and again.”