If You Want a Favor, Ask and Ask Again

March 24, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra


Our CMC  team spends lots of time encouraging MBAs to grow their professional relationships. We call it networking. If you are currently conducting a job search, you are probably already reaching out to others to get help.

It is easy to think of this process as transactional – but if you want to be successful – you need to think in the long term. During all parts of your job search, you’ll want to reach out to alumni, connections, friends, and colleagues for advice, insights and information. A strong network of professionals will help you in your next career transitions as well.

This process can seem daunting. Asking for help can be hard. 

Keep this in mind: Most people expect that the likelihood of having the other person agree to meet or speak to be very low. The research done by Stanford GSB Professor Flynn points to much higher rates of “yes” to requests for help than people ever expect.

Think about broadening your pool of those that you ask for help! 

Professor Flynn presents about his team’s research on asking for help saying that they concluded:

Out in the real world, these divergent thought processes create a kind of paradox: “Help seekers may be the least likely to ask for help from those people who in fact are the most likely to help them.” And over time, that means we tend to go back to the same small pool of people who’ve helped us in the past. This can happen in organizations, Newark points out, where those who say yes early on during their tenure get lots of requests in the future. That leads group members to an unfortunate tendency to overburden the same set of helpers while underutilizing other group members, who, this research suggests, might say yes if you try them again.

>> See Video and Read Full Article

My Whirlwind SXSW Outreach Trip

March 13, 2014 by Becky Charvat

Last week I went to Dallasand Austin for a whirlwind outreach trip facilitated largely by your LINK submissions. Thank you for informing my/our outreach! Hopefully you’ll find the insight for the following companies to be helpful.

Cities Visited: Dallas & Austin

Companies Visited: Match.com, Neiman Marcus, Longhorn Capital, Whole Foods, HomeAway, RetailMeNot



Walking into the Match.com HQ felt like walking into a friend’s living room. There are funky couches, TVs, and flower arrangements decorating the entryway.  Two super friendly recruiters who lead the university relations program at Match.com greeted me. They walked me through the office to their large breakout/lunch room complete with more funky couches, other lounge-y furniture and foosball tables.

Match.com has a large number of online dating properties, including Delightful, Tinder, and Ok Cupid to name a few.  They have other offices including small locations in SF, LA, and of course their HQ in Dallas. In total, Match.com is about 520 employees, 400 of which are located in Dallas. They talked about their focus on global mobility and Match’s huge internationalpresence; including the leading sites in France, Belgium, Brazil, Japan, and China. They are becoming a global leader and employees are benefitting.

As far as internships go, Match.com focuses internship hiring on Finance interns at the MBA level for now, but there is future potential for Strategy/Analytics internships. Also, for full time if you’re interested in Product Management roles, you don’t necessarily have to have a technical background, but all PM roles are located in the Dallas office.

Match’s culture is entrepreneurial, fun, and fast paced. It’s non-corporate and Match employees get a long runway to figure out products, solutions, and take on new projects. There’s little hierarchy and lots of collaboration. They are looking for people with strong communication skills, who aren’t afraid to take risks, and even fail from time to time.

Neiman Marcus

Going from new tech to traditional retail, I met with Neiman Marcus’ Director of Store Operations, Diana Swope, GSB’06. Diana arrived at our meeting directly after an offsite where she and her team were working to creatively improve customers’ experience in stores. At the offsite they had a full brainstorming session where they came up with ideas such as bringing customers their favorite coffee beverage when they walk into the store and have onsite child care available while they shop.

Neiman Marcus has 41 “Neiman” branded stores domestically and also has Bergdorf Goodman and Last Call in their portfolio. Their online presence is probably one of their biggest areas for development.

Good areas for MBAs include Corporate Strategy, Store Operations, Marketing, Supply Chain, and Customer Care. Diana talked about how it was a good idea for incoming employees to learn about and get exposed to a variety of areas and functions.

Full time hiring at Neiman Marcus is done on a more just in time basisand interested candidates must really be committed to living in Dallas, but if this sounds like you, Diana is happy to be a point of contact and answer questions. She also said the work/life balance is great and as a non-Dallas native herself, she’s has actually found that she really likes the city.

Longhorn Capital

This hedge fund is tiny but savvy, and operates with a non-traditional short-only strategy. The analyst I met with got his job after pitching ideas to one of the Partners nearly every other week for several months. While there aren’t opportunities per se at the moment, but my conversation with my contact at Longhorn was incredibly informative in regards to learning to stay persistent if you’re truly committed to working for a hedge fund. His advice: you never know when your opportunity may arise.


Whole Foods


As you’d expect when you walk into Whole Foods, there’s a poster talking about Whole Foods’ classes like yoga, meditation, and marshal arts – all are free to employees.

I met with a Whole Foods Global Recruiter who gave me a brief tour, showing their many training and conference rooms as well as their fun furniture and a giant “poster” of WillieNelson made entirely out of toast. Check out the pics!

We talked a little bit about the path to working at Whole Foods and the rigor of their interview process, but we spent the bulk of our time discussing culture, the Whole Foods lifestyle, and the importance of happy employees. The recruiter said that Whole Foods isn’t about work/life balance, it’s about life. He also said this type of environment isn’t for everyone but if you’re someone that wants to be a part of something that is bigger than you, with a very clear mission to help people – this could be the place for you. He encouraged interested candidates to check out Whole Foods’ values and ensure they resonate with you.

If you’re seriously interested about Whole Foods and Austin (and we haven’t discussed this already!) let me know.

HomeAway and RetailMeNot

After Whole Foods I joined the High Tech Club for the SXSW trek and was able to visit these two companies with them.

Trek attendees can definitely give you more insight, but if you’re interested in working for either let me know. Both are hiring for full time and RMN does have internships available, although the Manager of University Relations did say candidates must be extremely committed to working in Austin to apply. But Finance, Marketing, and Operations internships are available at this cool company.  Check out pics here too!20140307_15260020140307_152540

National Sports Forum Overview

March 8, 2014 by Jana Cain

The National Sports Forum took place February 9-11, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Touted as the largest annual gathering of team sports executives in North America, the NSF was a valuable opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge about sports business as well as to network with nearly 1,000 industry professionals.

Over the course of the three day conference I attended breakout sessions on career and professional development (take advantage of opportunities to build your network, including executive recruiters) as well as strategy sessions on marketing and sponsorship. Strategy session topics covered consumer engagement for brands (it’s not about Facebook likes), fan engagement for teams (the importance of sustainable messaging), and how to strategize brand-team partnerships (know the space). Below is a sampling of the organizations I was able to connect with:

  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Gatorade
  • IMG
  • Legends
  • Marquee Search (sports focused search firm)
  • NCAA
  • New York Yankees
  • NFL
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Octagon
  • St. Louis Rams
  • The Marketing Arm
  • WorkInSports.com (sports focused job board)

If you’re interested in hearing more about the conference and/or the other attendees, just let me know!

For Smaller Projects, Try Renting an M.B.A. (WSJ article)

February 9, 2014 by Vic Menon

Looking for a summer opportunity? This WSJ article points to some interesting consulting project possibilities! Below is an excerpt:consulting-questions

Got a small project and a small budget? For some companies nowadays, the solution is simple: Rent an M.B.A. to do the work.

A new breed of job sites has cropped up to match M.B.A.s and business-school students with companies seeking short-term help and project work. The companies get trained talent to help with marketing, financial modeling and investor pitches for a fraction of what they would have to pay big firms like McKinsey & Co. or Boston Consulting Group Inc. For the M.B.A.s, the weeks- or months-long freelance projects can sharpen their skills before they start a full-time job, provide some extra cash on the side or, for a few, offer a flexible alternative to a corporate career.

Fledgling startups were the first to use these services, but big companies—among themAmerican Apparel Inc. APP +5.00% and Ogilvy & Mather—have become customers, too.

“If you can bring in external expertise affordably, why would you not avail yourself of that?” asks Ryan Holiday, the marketing director at American Apparel. Last fall, his team used HourlyNerd Inc. to streamline a weekly marketing spending report. They offered $1,400 for about 20 hours of work and got a Harvard Business School grad to do it.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly. Alumni Feedback…

February 8, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra

The CMC Team occasionally gets feedback on current students. A few recent comments from Alumni on good and bad etiquette by topic:

Be Prepared and Focused in Interviews.

Alum Interviewer provides feedback on candidate: “As a GSB alum & someone who wants to make sure that Stanford students show up well with all recruiters, I did want to share some feedback with you…I was surprised that quite a few students seemed less prepared for the interview than I would have expected – specifically, I received a few surprisingly lukewarm answers to the question of “why marketing” (for instance, one student’s response was that they know that they don’t want to do operations / finance / strategy, and so they arrived at marketing by process of elimination).  The question of “why are you interested in marketing” is a pretty obvious one when you’re applying for a marketing internship, and unfortunately, the types of answers that we received from ~4 out of the 12 students didn’t reflect really well on the GSB.”

Be Professional. Don’t TXT. 

Alum feedback: “Generally speaking, the incoming emails and phone calls have been very professional and courteous.  There have been a few times, however, in which I have been somewhat disturbed by an overly familiar and unprofessional tone and style.  For example, the email I received this morning contained phrases such as “referred u” and “we cld schedule a call”.  …my sense is that a business school student should be aware that, in professional communications, one should not use text style shorthand.  I cannot imagine the reaction if this email had been sent to an alumni who graduated in ’89…”

What they love. Alumni like candidates that make the extra effort:

Alum email to an MBA: “Just wanted to say – you wrote a particularly good, personal, detailed, thoughtful letter, and that is why I responded so quickly and positively. I’m going to pass this along as an example to one of the CMC advisors as a model on how to reach out to alumni. Great work.”

Letter that she liked. “I saw your profile on the GSB alumni directory and wanted to reach out when I noticed your previous work at XYZ Company (I’ve gotten to know XYZ’s chair, Jane Smith…) and current work at Hot Tech.  Over the past four months, I have met with people from five teams at Hot Tech and have been researching the company (reading books, blogs , buying ads, brainstormed ideas for improvement, etc).  I am gripped by what the Operations team is doing, and I would love to chat with you and hear about your experience.  It seems like you’re working on massive people leadership, technology, and policy challenges, and I would love to hear what you think of the role.
To tell you a little about myself, before coming to Stanford, I led a team of engineers and policy analysts at ABC Consulting, setting goals for my team, managing our budget, and helping clients develop policies (privacy, information use, etc) and execute cyber security strategies.  At Stanford I’ve maintained my focus on technology and policy, founding a group of grad students that meets with Hoover scholars on economic and security issues.  I feel particularly blessed to have gotten to meet with Dr. Condi Rice and Dr. William Perry and hear their views on technology and US interests.  Last summer, I interned with an entrepreneur, helping him launch a business based on a new smartphone technology.
Are you available to meet in the next week or so?
Many thanks,”

Networking Etiquette Matters. Contacts Want You to Follow-up.

The Alum writes: “I am all for helping GSB students but one thing that drives me crazy is when I don’t hear back from them. I made three introductions for the MBA to some senior executives.  Needless to say the student would not have been able to “access” them on her own. I reached out to follow up with her after I had heard back from the executives but not the MBA.  I have no incentive to help when I don’t hear back after making introductions.

I pound away at my employees to be polite. It is embarrassing when senior people respond immediately and offer to help and students don’t. It makes you feel like they think they are entitled and I have heard that regarding GSB students before.”

Sometimes alumni are busy too. One had every intention in getting back to the current MBA….An alum comment about getting behind:

Alum letter to CMC Advisor: “Thanks for reaching out. Upon reading your email I searched my inbox and did indeed find his email, lost beneath a few hundred. I just sent him an email to apologize – really no excuse, except it was an incredibly crazy time for me at work the entire months of june and july and I completely fell behind on personal emails. I told him I would be happy to chat with him this weekend and I will keep you posted.”

>> BAD: MBA Networking No-Nos
>> GOOD: MBA Job Hunt: Networking

CMC Tips on Networking

JobJuice Interview Prep Tool for Marketing, Consulting, Banking

February 6, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra

jobjuiceNeed more practice for upcoming interviews? Want an interactive tool you can use in your limited job preparation time?

JobJuice has taken the traditional flash card idea and designed their job search tool as an App.

The CMC has a limited number of FREE Apps for current MBAs via this Request Form

Jobjuice has very strong content in their tool for MBAs looking to prepare for consulting, marketing, or banking interviews. For example, the case preparation App is based on Marc Cosentino’s popular crack the case book Case in Point.

The Marketing App offers has over 50 themes covering marketing concepts and frameworks to help you with your interviews.

Here is more information from their site: http://www.jobjuice.com

Have Feedback?? If you have used Jobjuice – give us your thoughts.

Tell me About Your Dream Job

February 2, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra

dreamGetting focus on your career path can be difficult. The goal of the career and life vision resources is to help you refine this vision. It is important to be able to answer “What is your perfect role?” or “Describe your perfect job.” This is a question that can come up in informational and job interviews. You need to have an answer that is authentic and shows how it fits the company you are targeting.

Not only do you need to reflect on what you really want to do but also understand your target company. Do your homework on the company and industry.All this leads to better understanding of yourself and better answers.

How I Hire: Nail the Interview in 5 Minutes and 2 Questions is a blog by a hiring manager at LinkedIn. Mark Hull writes: “The two questions I start with usually give me a great sense of a candidate’s potential, passion, preparation and cultural fit…”

Tell me about your dream job.

I avoid starting with “Tell me about yourself.” It’s just an open invitation to recite a canned answer of what I’ve already read on their LinkedIn profile. Instead, I prefer a kind of ice-breaker question, giving candidates the chance to settle in while also giving them a chance to demonstrate their motivation and personality.

The best responses showcase a candidate’s ambitions, passion for what they do and clarity of vision. Extra credit goes to those who do it with a sense of humor, or are willing to take a risk and tell me something completely off the expected path. Demonstrating ambition is incredibly important to me, especially in hiring product leaders, because I’m looking for people who can bring passion and vision to our business.

>> Full Article

MBA Panel – Startup Job Search Tips

January 30, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra

startupEarlier in the year – a few MBA2s who worked at startups over the summer shared their experience during a club sponsored event. A few of their tips related to the job search leading to those internships.

>> Related Blog: HBS Professor Thomas Eisenmann has a great article on Startup hiring

Here is a summary of just a few of the MBAs great insights.
To get started, ask yourself “What question do you want to answer over the summer?” and decide how much structure you need.
Evaluating startups:
  • Good sense of the people. Reference check.
  • Find where the company has needs
  • Connect their needs to how can you help the business
Start with classmates. Once you get more background, move on to other contacts like younger alumni. Get to know the alumni and other connections in venture capital firms. Ask about good companies and who is good at the area you are targeting “Who is the expert in marketing?”

Other Tips:

  • Get to Know the company
  • Pitch a project - Projects have included vendor management, redo of sales pitch, A/B testing, advertising strategy, running pilots. Market sizing and use cases.
  • Ask the company “what do you need help with?”
  • Have an angle, but be flexible
  • Have three ideas but take their ideas
  • Follow up with email summarizing the conversation
  • Find a connection or alum with similar background

And finally – remember that you might need to work to diffuse entitlement by saying “I want to learn” – depending on the company and your value add.

Looking for a job in a startup is going to require that you spend a lot of time networking.

Want to read more on the startup job search?
Tips for MBAs Seeking a Startup Job (Bloomberg Business Schools)

Tech Startups (The Economist)

January 23, 2014 by Vic Menon


This is a collection of nine superlative articles published in last week’s Economist – a must-read, though not a quick-read! Look on the right side under “Special Reports.” Just a couple of excerpts:

Today’s entrepreneurial boom is based on more solid foundations than the 1990s internet bubble, which makes it more likely to continue for the foreseeable future. One explanation for the Cambrian explosion of 540m years ago is that at that time the basic building blocks of life had just been perfected, allowing more complex organisms to be assembled more rapidly. Similarly, the basic building blocks for digital services and products—the “technologies of startup production”, in the words of Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School—have become so evolved, cheap and ubiquitous that they can be easily combined and recombined….

So instead of outlining what these startups do, this special report will explain how they operate, how they are nurtured in accelerators and other such organisations, how they are financed and how they collaborate with others. It is a story of technological change creating a set of new institutions which governments around the world are increasingly supporting.

21 Ways to Make Networking Less Scary and More Fun (Daily Muse)

January 20, 2014 by Rebecca Chopra


Industry events and career fairs can be great places to meet possible employers. You know you should attend. However, you may hate these kind of large group networking events.

Here are a few great tips for networking or as they rebrand it – “Open Exchange” conversations. “At an “open exchange,” you’re free to share ideas, contacts, information, and resources with tons of interesting people.”

They have pulled some great ideas from a few great articles!!

Some ideas:

Set a goal and then reward yourself.

Approach pairs.

The article references another expert in an Inc. Article  ”How I Became the Kind of Person Who Can Work a Room” who says:

“Because everyone else is there to meet other people, too,” he explained. He went on to explain that if you see a pair of people talking, the chances are that they arrived together and know they should be mingling. Or else they’ve just met and are, in the back of their minds, worried that they’re going to end up talking to this one person all night. (You’ve just made it easier for one of them to exit.) Either way, they’re relieved to see you. And your chances of having a decent conversation are better, because now you’re talking to two people, not just one.

Ask Interesting Questions.

“My favorite question is: ‘What’s keeping you busy these days?’ It’s useful because it allows people to choose their focus (work, volunteer, family, hobby)”

See the full article and other articles written by experts -  21 Ways to Make Networking Less Scary and More Fun

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