“Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath, take a pen and start writing” – Tim Butler says. This is my future, 5, 10 years from now. I am in an office round table, with the team I am leading. 6 to 8 crucial people. We draw our discussion keys on a whiteboard. It is full of light. Work is intense and challenging, but fun. End of the first exercise.
Second exercise. Fill in a thorough analytical survey to detect your interests: manage people, influence others, apply technology, creativity, quantitative analysis.
Third exercise. Pick 12 jobs out of 100 random jobs. CEO? Actress? Director of a manufacturing plant? Really? Now, get a team of smart MBA student mates and let them talk about what your arbitrary choices seem to indicate while you silently write their conclusions. Discuss with them about it afterwards.
It sounds weird, but it works. Since I arrived to HBS, what amazes me most is the endless list of resources that are available for everything. The career search is not an exception. A very structured process starts with the slow self-discovery of what matters most to you. A set of apparently odd exercises steers your thoughts to end up with a vision of important concepts in the job search, and what begins as a list of quirky exercises in which one needs to leave skepticism aside becomes a useful tool to define priorities. The self-dialogue gradually converges to define a much more tangible set of themes that verbalize your desires.
I want to work leading teams. I want a challenging job that allows me to continuously grow. I want to have autonomy and increased responsibility. I am collaborative and highly driven by results, so I need a dynamic company culture that fosters continuous improvement without being overly competitive. I want some flexibility to have a family someday. I need to live close to a city where there is cultural life. I want strategy. I want operations. I need to work in one or several industries where I can relate to tangible products: hardware, software, consumer goods or heavy manufacturing, but I need to be able to explain to my grandma what I do.
Now that I have my basis, I am ready to approach the world more confidently to begin the career search. I will prepare a résumé with the inestimable help of Harvard trained coaches and editors. I will attend Linkedin makeover sessions, industry talks and advice chats on how to network. Now, I am ready to really explore. Let the show begin.- Yolanda Anton Perez, MBA 2015