While many students come to HBS unsure whether they want to make a career shift, some students are more certain about leveraging an MBA to make a change. That was certainly the case for Lior Litwak (MBA 2015) – a software engineer and former member of the Israel Defense Force – who came to HBS determined to pursue a career in finance.

1.       What are you planning to do after HBS?

I am going to work at Morgan Stanley’s Technology Investment Banking Group in Menlo Park, California, which is also were I did my summer internship. At some point, after about eight years total working as an engineer on deep drill-down software modules and leading development teams, I felt I wanted to get a broader view of the technology industry than just the development part itself. I wanted to gain a better understanding on how value is created through technology, and how I can help companies create that value.

2.       Why did you want to change careers?

I felt that through the financial side of the tech industry I could both help create value and learn a vital aspect of business – finance. I have focused my studies in both the RC and EC years on getting my hands dirty with financial modeling and various coursework on finance, with the intention of making the shift into the financial services industry.

Specifically, I chose investment banking since I felt it would be the best fit for me to take my first few steps in the finance world. The intensive deal-making atmosphere, combined with the breadth in types of deals and financial products banks offer, made the decision to go into banking an ideal one for someone taking his first steps into the world of finance.

3.       How did your summer internship experience impact your future plans?

My summer internship had a great impact on my decision to continue pursuing a career in investment banking. I had heard quite a lot about the considerable difficulties in sustaining a career as a banker – the long hours, the travel, the unpredictability. While I was unsure what to expect as I started my internship, gradually I realized that while the job may be difficult, it is also intellectually rewarding and stimulating. Furthermore, I really connected with the people in the Menlo Park office and enjoyed the unique culture of the Tech Group, making it easier for me to decide to accept their offer to return full-time.

4.       Why do you think so many people pivot in their careers after business school?

The business school experience is an ideal time for people to reflect on their professional careers (as well as their personal lives) and make sure they made the right decisions for themselves after college. Many people realize that the job they initially shot for was either not for them, or would not take them to where they saw themselves in 10-20 years. While in business school, students expand their horizons, interact with people from diverse backgrounds, learn about new jobs and functions, and can even get practical experience in new industries through schoolwork and internships.

Specifically, HBS does an amazing job in presenting its students with a broad set of opportunities post-school. It simply feels that coming out of HBS, no industry is “blocked”, and every student can decide to pursue a new career trajectory and get the resources necessary to make that move successfully.

5.       How can students get to know about different industries and job functions while they are at HBS?

Make use of the vast and highly reputed alumni network (they’re very responsive and helpful) the experienced personnel in CPD (especially the career coaches), and the programs offered by CPD (industry lectures, official company events/interviews, career teams, etc.)

The student clubs are an incredible resource for those trying to go through a career change. They offer industry-oriented lectures by experts, company presentations, interview-prep days, and geographical treks to visit companies at their respective industry hub. In addition, they post many job offerings that are a crucial resource for those trying to break into an industry.

6.       What’s your best advice to someone coming to HBS who is considering a career change?

Get a head start – understand what it is you want to get out of the MBA experience professionally, and direct yourself toward the activities required to help you succeed. This does NOT mean you have to know exactly what you want to do after graduation, but it’s important to have a general idea and to start expanding your knowledge in that new industry (e.g. start reading the relevant news, books, etc.).

Talk with current students, especially second years! Learn from the experience how they handled the job search and the career change.

Get involved in the relevant clubs and remain active. In particular, helping to organize a conference could be a wonderful way to get to know industry leaders and build relationships with them.