On my office desk, I have this photo from first year Spring Break. It was 2007, and 50 of us traveled to Beijing and Shanghai to meet with startups, view real estate development projects, meet with Olympics officials and sing karaoke with Kenny G. That last one wasn’t on the itinerary...just a very random perk.
This last week, as you were all crisscrossing the globe, I was thinking about the career trajectories my Anderson classmates have taken. As you can see in the photo, the career progressions have been varied. Some are still with the same company they started with after graduation almost 6 years ago. They have moved both up and sideways to gain new perspectives and challenges. Others started at big firms and have since switched to competitors or smaller firms or even started their own businesses. Yet some did the reverse and have brought their more entrepreneurial skillsets to larger corporations to operate at scale. And a few, who had been so sure they would stay at their companies and rise to become managing partners, discovered that their career track weren’t a fit, but found better matches somewhere else. Everyone in this cohort has been successful, but each person has taken a different route.
In Lean In, Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg notes that careers are no longer a ladder, but a jungle gym. In 2011, Sandberg was the Anderson commencement speaker. Here’s her advice to those starting their post-business school careers:
Look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they're going to give you. Do real work. Take a sales quota, a line role, an ops job. Don't plan too much, and don't expect a direct climb. If I had mapped out my career when I was sitting where you are, I would have missed my career.
So be open-minded to opportunities in your current internship searches and beyond. I look forward to seeing the jungle gyms your class will climb.
-Emily Taylor '08, Associate Director of MBA Education & Communication