Navigating Your Career Journey After The MBA

Having taught and talked with many MBA students, I am struck by an observation. Some students see their first job as the destination, rather than the beginning of a very long journey with the destination (the final point on their career trek) to occur decades in the future.

This makes some sense. Many planned after college to work for a few years, apply for graduate school, attend graduate school, obtain an internship, and then get a job. What seems to a 19-year-old a very long and arduous process (taking more than 10 years) culminates with the attainment of a job that often can increase their income two- or three-fold. However, the first job places them at the bottom of another mountain. It is not the pinnacle.

To understand how to think about a career journey, I talked with Debra Bass, the President of Johnson and Johnson’s Global Baby Franchise Organization, who has crafted an interesting journey from Procter and Gamble to JNJ, after obtaining her MBA from the University of Michigan, Ross School of Management. Below, Debra shares her thoughts on how to think about a career.

1. Your career is a lattice … and not a ladder. In reality, there is never just one path to achieve your career aspirations. Putting pressure on yourself to pick the “right” path is unnecessary.

2. But start with a destination. It’s important to think of your career as a journey with a North Star destination point—one that can guide you toward a vision of your future but enable you to take multiple different paths to get there. While your North Star doesn’t need to be hard and fast at age 28, it should provide a direction for you to move toward.

3. Be intentional. While many paths may help you arrive at your North Star, there is a difference between meandering and making intentional career choices. You want to be purposive about your journey and make sure that career decisions are made with strong rationale...




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