Sarah Kramer (MBA 2019) came to HBS knowing what she wanted – sort of. “I was interested in human capital, but I wasn’t sure what a job in this sector would look like,” Sarah says.

For Sarah, searching for an appropriate internship opportunity meant a simultaneous investigation into her ambitions: She wasn’t just seeking potential companies, but promising visions and missions.

“I was thinking of human capital in terms of people, talent and culture,” Sarah explains. “I needed to find organizations that already got it and saw people as a core strength.” That insight proved crucial to helping Sarah refine her search. “I looked at industries hyper-dependent on people, and concentrated on technology and financial services.”

Like her HBS colleagues, Sarah launched a campaign to “reach out and connect to people,” perusing the alumni database to extend her network, and dropping emails to make direct connections. “I didn’t get offers,” she says, “but I did get lots of good advice.”

An intriguing title leads to the right fit

For a long time, Sarah struggled to find a role that matched her ambitions. Then the right opportunity popped up in the most likely place possible: the HBS recruiting platform. “When I was about to switch gears and look at other meaningful career possibilities, I found Citadel in the listings.” There, she saw a title that resonated with her. “It said, ‘Talent Strategist,’ which was exactly the title I had in mind!”

Citadel’s job description confirmed her expectations. “I was a strategy consultant before I came to HBS,” says Sarah. “I thought this could be a great opportunity to apply my strategy experience to the role.”

After an initial phone screening, Sarah visited Citadel in New York City for five hours of back-to-back interviews. “I went in excited about the work, and came out over the moon about the team! I could tell that talent was a real priority for the company, a core issue for their growth. For some interviews, you have to shape yourself in an inauthentic way. But with Citadel, I could be myself.”

Her feelings proved mutual. Justin Pinchback (MBA 2009), head of talent strategy at Citadel, recognized Sarah’s deep appreciation for talent. “I could see that she was interested in human capital, right off the bat,” he says. “We’re always looking for intellectually curious people who have the desire to solve complex problems.”

Justin advises other MBA candidates interested in talent development to follow their interests as soon as possible. “Many will find their way to it from other angles,” he says. “But it’s increasingly important for MBAs with curiosity about human capital to pursue that path more quickly.”

For Sarah, that urgency has been welcome. “In my admissions essay, I wrote about how wonderful it would be to have an interesting role in the private sector involving human capital – and that’s what I got. HBS has been a great place to enter a new sector.”