HBS career coaches are committed to helping MBA students and alumni realize their unique career visions. They are trained to assist with all aspects of the career development process including self-assessment and career vision, developing job search strategies, networking, interview preparation and more.

We caught up with Wendi Zhang (MBA/MPP 2013), an HBS career coach with over 15 years of professional experience in high tech - including big tech, startups, and venture capital—to learn more about career coaching at HBS. Among her many successful roles, Wendi also served as the Captain of HBS on-campus recruiting for Google from 2014 until she left Google to join a startup in 2020.

What is an HBS career coach?

An HBS career coach is an experienced business professional trained to guide students and alumni through their career development and job search processes. The coaching experience is unique to each individual. Coaches help students and alumni assess what is needed to move forward, work with them to address specific obstacles, and direct them to other helpful resources.

Who should opt for career coaching?

Everyone can benefit from career coaching. Whether someone is completely unsure of what to do or they seem to be exactly where they want to be, one thing is certain: the only constant is change when it comes to life/career planning. Life is dynamic, and as a result, preferences and needs naturally change over time as well. Career planning is a constantly evolving process, and coaching can be beneficial any time - not just during times of significant change.

What makes a good career coach?

I think a good career coach listens well and is able to ask the right questions to help individuals better understand themselves. I find that most of the time, the logistics behind reaching a goal tends to be the easier part, even as the implementation may be complicated and cumbersome. The harder part almost always is figuring out the goal, which is unique for each individual and dynamic over time. I believe great career coaches help break through the external distractions and noise that get in the way of individuals’ ability to uncover their authentic selves. Great career coaches also guide individuals in defining goals and implementation plans that are consistent with their true values and fitting to their unique situations.

What is something students might not know about career coaching at HBS?

There are over 50 phenomenal HBS career coaches across a wide breadth of industries, experiences, and expertise. HBS students receive unlimited coaching sessions, and it does not end there. HBS partners can access career coaching, and HBS alumni receive 6 complimentary sessions each calendar year. That is an amazing lifetime benefit!

How has your MBA experience influenced your career path?

My HBS MBA education gave me the opportunity to:

  • Explore many career paths: The case method made it possible for me to learn about a wide variety of functions and industries vicariously through my classmates, professors, and cases. HBS’s vast number of resources also enabled me to conduct deep research for my interests, receive career coaching that helped me with figuring out my career plan and get clarity on which offer was most fitting for me at the time, and support my entrepreneurial endeavors through programs like those offered by the i-lab and Rock Center.
  • Make many dear friends: The lifelong friends I made during my time at HBS continue to play a significant role in my life today. They have been my confidants during major career (as well as life) decisions and changes.
  • Create meaningful connections after HBS: I continue to stay involved with HBS after graduation, and find myself frequently meeting new alumni, staff, faculty, and students who bring unique and interesting perspectives that help me develop and evolve my own career path.

What is your advice for students looking for a career change?

Career changes are relatively common and can lead to profound personal and professional growth. They also often come with anxiety and stress, and there are many resources at HBS to help with the transition - including HBS career coaches.

For any desired career change, it is important to understand why you are looking for a career change. You may want to try asking “why” multiple times until you uncover the personal value that is primarily driving your decision.

How should prospective students set themselves up for success at HBS?

Over the years, I’ve observed that classmates and students who came to HBS with curiosity, an open mind to new perspectives, and a willingness to be vulnerable with themselves tend to grow the most from their HBS experience.