M IS FOR MUSIC!
Although many MBA students have business background, alumni Jeremy Mang was an exception. Jeremy entered the Residential MBA (RMBA) Program after graduating with a degree in music, which he admits was “a rough transition in the beginning.” By the time he graduated, Jeremy “had learned a great deal about the business world, making the marriage of music and business much easier.”
Jeremy currently owns his own company, Whisper Label Group, where he works as CEO. Whisper Label Group recently started a subsidiary company, Indiejuke, which is an online music retailer and community strictly for independent music—musicians and artists who are not on a major record label. Additionally, Jeremy owns and operates his own recording studio.
After graduating from the RMBA Program in 2010, however, Jeremy was not as encouraged as he is today. In fact, Jeremy began job searching without much success.
“I had sent out hundreds of résumés, both solicited and unsolicited, and I only received one interview—and didn’t get the job,” said Jeremy. “I decided that while I didn’t have a family to support, I’d chase the dream.”
Six months later, Jeremy had secured angel investment, partnered with many companies around the United States, successfully finished software development and ran one of the main stages at Cornerstone.
When asked what his proudest professional accomplishment is, Jeremy will tell you that it’s being able to do what he loves everyday—and paying his bills, too.
N IS FOR NETWORKING!
Networking is one of the most crucial parts of job searching, but not all networks are created equal. Most MBAs have some networks already, but how useful or effective they are depends on the depth of personal relationships built up over time. For example, even if you go to church regularly, if you come in just at the start of the service, sit in the back pew and blast out after the service without talking with anyone, that church is not a network. On the other hand, if you are an active (the key word) member of a church school class or home Bible study group, you might have a network. If you sing in the choir and actively get to know other members, you might have a network. If you are an active part of your church council or leadership group, you might have a network. The point is you need to be actively engaged with the group, be helpful to the group and individuals, be likeable and consistently be there.
Let’s focus on just one type of professional network: joining and becoming actively (there’s that word again!) engaged in one or two professional, industry or trade associations involved in the company’s industry (such as electronics, healthcare, plastics or restaurants) or focusing on a particular functional job area (like marketing, HR or supply chain management). Ideally, the group will have an active local chapter.
If you join such an organization, go to meetings on a regular basis. Usually there is a meal preceding the event.
- Get there a little early and mix and mingle with the event organizers. Meet other members and visitors and chat for a few minutes, then move on.
- Learn to be a good listener, especially to first-timers who will greatly appreciate a friendly welcome.
- Introduce them to others.
- Don’t always sit with the same people.
- If someone is job hunting or looking for someone for an open position or looking for a new supplier of Product X, try to help them.
- As you get acclimated, volunteer for a committee or special event task force. Do a great job.
- As time goes on, mention to the officer nominating committee that you would like to serve in a committee chair capacity. The program committee is always a “spotlight” job. Do a great job.
- Most professional organizations have newsletters, including articles or blogs by members. Become an author.
- Maybe become chapter president and, perhaps, become an officer at the regional or national level. Do a great job.
- Many professional organizations have certifications one can earn to show proficiency in that area. Get credentialed. The AU MBA is a great credential but is general, not specific.
All these activities require time, usually outside of work. Sometimes you might have to pay your own way. Think of it as an investment, no less so than your MBA. Active professional organization networking is not only a resource created before you need help job searching, but it also enhances your professional skills in meeting and time management, communications and motivation. You will continue learning, which might enhance your present employment value. You might also help your company find a new, key employee, customer or supplier through your network of contacts.
When a headhunter contacts another member of the organization with a “Who do you know who might qualify for ______________?”, you want to be positioned so your name comes up. Conversely, if a headhunter contacts you with the same question and you don’t fit the job specs or are not interested just now, try to help from your network. Believe me, the headhunter will remember your name and it might come up for the next search.
Professional networks are no guarantee you will get referred to the next great job. But they can increase–sometimes greatly–the odds. And they need to be built long before you need them. Get involved.
– Dr. Charles Waldo, Professor of Marketing
Dr. Waldo is a guest blogger for the AU MBA Program