Five Tips for Preparing for a Career Change

If you're thinking about changing careers, a graduate business degree can help you complete that transition. Whether you're changing roles within a company, transitioning to a new career within the same industry or completely changing directions, you'll benefit from the knowledge, experience and connections to be gained in pursuit of an MBA. 

LaTanya Johns, director of the Graduate Career Center at TCU's Neeley School of Business, offers five tips for business professionals on the brink of a career switch.

Take inventory of your transferrable skills and experience. "So often students tend to undervalue what they've done prior to business school. If they don't see an immediate relevancy, they discount it altogether,” says Johns. “Employers don't. They're looking for diverse backgrounds and skill sets. Look at your past for what it's worth and value the positives, skills, software knowledge and look at it as your ‘brand’—this is who I am, this is what I have to offer."

Understand and fill your skill gaps. For some jobs, your education and prior professional experience may not be enough to make the switch. You may need additional experience in your desired space, Johns explains. Think about what the job requires by way of knowledge base and experience, then figure out where the gaps are between where you are now and where you're trying to go. Use MBA opportunities such as internships, consulting projects, field studies and case competitions to help you fill those gaps.

Do the legwork. Don’t expect to ride it out on the coattails of your degree alone. While your MBA will help you get a foot in the door, you have to do the work. You have to network—talk with people who are in the role to get a sense of the lifestyle, culture, expectations and opportunities for career advancement. Employers expect you to know these things going in.

Make connections. Take advantage of your school's alumni network, join professional associations and participate in discussion boards. Stay up to date on industry trends. Be able to speak the language. The Neeley School faculty and staff can help direct you and provide opportunities, but you need to be the driving force of these efforts, both in and out of the classroom.

Choose a field you're passionate about. "At the end of the day, employers hire people who are passionate about what they do," says Johns. It’s important to demonstrate that "spark" and impress upon them that you went back to school so you can do this work. Students often forget to show that when interviewing. “It’s hard for an employer to believe you want to go into that career if you don't show that pulse,” says Johns.

When it comes to coaching students through career transitions, Neeley School of Business has the tools you need to segue way into something new. "We offer experiential learning options and opportunities that are designed to help students make a big career change," says Johns. “We scope out consulting projects that allow students to acquire skills they didn't have or enhance ones they did, and we position students to be visible and be leaders.”

At the Neeley School of Business, we are well acquainted with our students and know what they need to be successful, Johns explains. "Each year the opportunities for students look different because we have new students with different goals and skills," she says. "We adjust our approach to help them be as successful as possible and find an outcome they are excited about."

Are you looking to make a career change? Learn more about the Neeley School of Business or apply now.

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