Jeffery Galpin is a current MBA student at EWU. He has two quarters to go before he graduates. A few weeks before the fall quarter started he began to meet with people and get a feel for the job market in Spokane. I had a chance to sit down with him and ask a few questions about networking and what it has done for him.
Why did you choose to pursue an MBA degree?
When I finished my undergraduate degree I wanted to go into construction. Unfortunately, when I graduated the economy hit rock bottom. There were no jobs around; it was ugly. I wanted to expand on my manufacturing background to see what doors would open up and I always heard that an MBA makes you very well rounded and diversified.
What value is your MBA degree from EWU bringing to you as you look for a job?
My MBA has gotten me into places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone. This provided me with more options instead of having to settle for a job I didn’t want. It’s a tough degree but you get out of it what you are willing to put in. It proves that I am a driven individual and more people are willing to talk to me and consider me for employment. I don’t know where I would be with just my undergrad.
What are you doing throughout Spokane in order to find a job?
Just two weeks before school started I began trying to network. I started with a list of personal contacts from Roberta Brooke, the MBA director, and set up a bunch of meetings. I told them I was looking for any sort of work or internship. I also mentioned that I wanted to see what the market is like out there and figure out where I would be a good fit. I have been much more successful after just a few weeks. People talk about the hidden job market and how you need to know people and it’s exactly true. There really is a hidden job market. For example, someone from a work source agency told me that before he puts a job opening on the website for others, he tries to think of someone he knows that might want it.
Has this process helped you find a job or do you have any leads?
Yes, I have three good leads because of this. Just three weeks ago, before this networking, I didn’t have any. I was able to get a good recommendation from someone I met which led to one of the leads. One is an internship in manufacturing and one is more of a project management role.
Have EWU Alumni been helpful in trying to network?
Yes, alumni and the current faculty have been a lot of help with recommendations, referrals, etc. They have been a great support team for me. They opened the doors to meet other people and once that happened it just kept going. I’m surprised at how willing people are to help you. People in general are very eager to help you succeed.
Do you have any networking advice for current MBA students?
I’ve done both ways of job hunting. I’ve sat at a computer looking at job openings; this got me nowhere and wasted a lot of my time. I’ve also gone out there and started talking with people. I have three great leads in two weeks because of it. Just get out there and do it. People build networking up as something big and scary but it’s really kind of fun. It can be a bit tough if you are introverted like me, but once you start you begin to build momentum and it gets easier. Find out what industry you want to be in and start going to those events and groups. There are a lot of good groups in Spokane to get plugged into. Inland Northwest Launchpad is one. It is similar to LinkedIn but is just for Spokane. It’s absolutely great. There are job seeking seminars, luncheons, etc. I’ve been focusing on manufacturing so the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) has been great as well. My biggest advice is to be involved. And do it while you are a student. Networking is a give and take relationship, you can’t just take. You want to start your network before you are just asking for jobs. You also need to try to stay positive. It is easy to get discouraged but your effort will pay off. Be involved in your classes too. Talk to professors, ask questions, and do outside readings. Once again, the more you put into it the more you will get out. People complain about the economy but it’s a lot more about your efforts.
Jeff was offered and accepted a job at AVISTA.
Congratulations Jeff! He told me that he searched for a job for two years the conventional way and got nothing. After two months of doing it the way he describes he hit pay dirt. Networking works!
Networking is a necessary part of the MBA job hunt and may be the single most important factor in determining whether applicants get interviews. While applicants have to prove themselves to snag the job, they need to know the right people to get their foot in the door in the first place. Then they need people to advocate for them and eventually mentor them. First, however, they must meet these people and win them over. Here’s how:
Step One: Recognize the network you have
Aspiring MBAs should turn to family, friends, former colleagues, classmates (both first- and second-year MBA students with contacts at employers of interest), and alumni (from both their undergraduate and MBA programs). Don’t rule out anyone. At Thanksgiving, for example, MBA job hunters should tell their relatives what they’d like to do after they graduate, because a relative might know someone who can help, says Damian Zikakis, director of career services at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. "It’s like the Wizard of Oz," he adds. "Look in your own backyard. There’s no place like home."
Article continued at businessweek.com