Thursday, January 17, 2008

Career Day

This past weekend, I was walking through Raffles City (a mall connected to the MRT system) with my parents. At the MRT entrance, there was a guy with a sandwich board marked, and he was handing out flyers on how to get your ideal job. The ironic thought that first thought that came to my mind was "Does this guy really think that wearing a sandwich board and handing out flyers for was his ideal job?"

At INSEAD, we're told to start thinking about careers from the very beginning. Unlike the US schools, I don't think the career office is very strong, and at today's summer internship program, I think nearly 20-30% of summer internship positions are found using the student's own personal networks. For myself, I'm noticing an interesting trend. In the beginning, I was interested in banking, consulting, or returning back to industry. As reality sets in, you really quickly start to close off possibilities after hearing what the lifestyles are like. Banking sounded really glamourous, but when you hear what people do (ie, work 20 hr days), or what happens to their lives (disrupted relationships, substance addiction, etc), banking loses it luster fairly quickly. Consulting seemed OK, but I'm not sure if I'm at the point where I want to put in so much travel and time away. That brings me back to my original industry...

A few days ago, we had career day, and the career counselors had this interesting approach for people to find their ideal job, through some introspection, matching interests with strengths, etc. All very elaborate stuff, and a bit ironic because the MBA essays ask you to have a clear idea of what you'd like to do after your degree. But it seemed to me that many of the people in that auditorium did not know what they wanted to do! (despite their essays). My roommates and I walked out midway, because it was a pointless exercise. I wanted to return to healthcare, my roommates wanted to return to consulting. Probably the most interesting things I took from that session was that

1. Most MBAs are career switchers and don't know what they want to do.
2. You quickly narrow down on what you want to do, mainly because you don't have enough time to look into everything (esp with our classload)
3. There are some good techniques for trading off one preference against an another, and this is probably more useful in product development when trying to choose what features to put into a product. Essentially, you randomly list a series of preferences. Then, you compare 1 vs 2, 1 vs 3, 1 vs 4, .... 1 vs n. Then you do the same for 2 vs 3, 2 vs 4, 2 vs 5, 2 vs n. By the end, you count the number of times each number is circled.. the one with the largest count is the "first" priority, etc. Wonder if market research teams use this?

Overall, I guess I only learned one thing from career day: I should go back to healthcare and that I learned a new trick that could be useful in product development.

For a future note: I'll start to post more pictures of my breakfast / dinners, so all of you can be salivating with jealousy. =D

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