Defining my career path on the Distance Learning MBA

23 June 2020

Distance Learning MBA participant, Fiona Bennett, tells us how she effectively utilised the CareersPlus services at WBS to help achieve her goals and define her career journey.

I want to be a Rock Star! That was my somewhat facetious response to being asked what I wanted to do with myself when I left school… I had great grades, lots of interests and conservative, working class parents who had high expectations of me going to university and getting a good job. As it turns out I ‘ended up’ doing engineering and later dropped out… it just wasn’t me. I spent a year or so doing some casual jobs, when finally I decided I needed to get myself a real qualification and a ‘real job’ (my parents had practically disowned me by this stage). So I completed a business degree and later my professional accountancy qualifications.

Fast forward twenty-odd years, having changed career a few more times, tried and failed to start up a music agency, grievied the passing of my father, a couple of broken relationships, travelled across the world (yep, life happens), I now find myself near the completion of my MBA and having made yet another career change. This time, however, there is a difference - I’m working to my strengths, in a senior role for an organisation within the charity sector aligned with my own values. I’ve been in post just two months and I’m loving it. It feels ‘so me’!

I’m sure you can all relate that this didn’t happen overnight. I’d say this particular career change has taken over 18 months and reaching out to the WBS CareersPlus team has undoubtedly been the best thing I’ve ever done for my career. The five steps below outline the path I’ve taken and how I’ve utilised the fantastic offerings of the career services:

Understanding myself

In hindsight, clearly not knowing myself has been a barrier to finding satisfaction with my career. WBS has some brilliant and affordable (or free) downloadable resources to guide you through a journey of ‘self-awareness’; from MBTI personality profiles, understanding my ‘preferences’ to strengths insights. I highly recommend working through the online careers module.

Finding a champion for my cause

I have been a bit of a nomad, often feeling like I’m out in the wilderness and having to beat my own path without guidance. Joining the WBS mentoring programme has given me access to a senior WBS Alumni who is a veritable treasure chest of experience and wisdom. Our conversations have helped guide me on making decisions around electives, challenge my perspectives on different topics and has been a wonderful morale boost at times when motivation is lagging.

Problem Solving

For many of us, we are completing our MBA in conjunction with a full-time job. The challenges of the day job and life don’t go on hold just because we are studying. I sought out 1:1 coaching to help focus on problem solving for a couple of specific work-related challenges and later when I was ready to move on with my career, I utilised the CV review service and specific coaching on finding the right path to looking for a new role. The WBS coaching staff are brilliant, highly accredited and experienced who genuinely care about the students’ journeys.

Personal Branding – activate your career

Ok, so it’s wonderful that you’re now fully self-aware and have clarity on career direction, but does everyone else know you? The WBS CareersPlus team hold a number of different events, many free of charge, that focus on your personal brand and how to market yourself. Some of the events I’ve attended include:

  • Webinars – how to use LinkedIn effectively
  • Workshops – personal branding/ marketing yourself workshop
  • Networking events – utilise those alumni drinks sessions, or join a special interest group. These are a fantastic opportunity to explore areas of interest and talk to other experts in the field. You never know who is looking to hire someone.

Personal growth & development

The journey doesn’t just end with landing the new role. In securing my current role, I was asked at interview to ‘talk about myself’ and ‘where do I see myself post-MBA and in 5 years’. I used to loathe these questions. However, having now been through the steps above I was able to articulate my strengths and my vision for my road ahead. I’m not sure whether I want to undertake further academic study, however, I am always looking for opportunities to improve on those ‘power skills.’ Again, the CareersPlus team offer a number of workshops, webinars and 1:1 coaching to help develop these skills; such as a workshop on ‘Courageous conversations’ and webinars during this COVID-19 period like ‘Building Resilience in times of crisis’.

What it ultimately comes down to for me is we are investing so much of ourselves in our MBA and careers, so why wouldn’t we create every best possible chance of success ourselves? As for the other big life question, ‘when am I going to settle down, get married and have kids?’ I’ll save that for another day…

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