New Approaches to Career Management for Working Professional MBAs

The Graduate Management Admission Council recently released a paper exploring the current state of part-time MBA programs in the U.S., including this highlight of innovations made in three Texas McCombs Working Professional MBA programs.

Texas McCombs’ Working Professional MBA program enrolls more than 500 students across three cohorts and locations: The Texas Evening MBA (offered Monday and Tuesday evenings in Austin), the Texas MBA at Houston (offered on alternating weekends in Houston), and the Texas MBA at Dallas-Fort Worth (offered on alternating weekends in Dallas).

In the summer of 2015, program administrators realized they needed to rethink their approach to career management for part-time students.

“We found that the traditional strategy for full-time MBA career services wasn’t a strong fit for the evolving needs of working professionals,” explains Joseph G. Stephens, assistant dean and director of the MBA for Working Professionals at Texas McCombs.
Joseph G. Stephens, Assistant Dean

“That strategy was putting everything into on-campus recruiting (OCR) and a traditional approach to career workshops, and it simply didn’t work for a large number of these students. We developed an entirely new career management framework that emphasized students’ strengths and interests and better prepared them not only for OCR, but also for other channels that led to experienced hires and will allow them to continually progress in their careers.”

The framework, which can be applied in any phase of a student’s career and is tied to students’ career management curriculum and one-on-one advising, includes a market assessment (self-assessment, career exploration, and network creation); value proposition (your brand and competitive advantage, and elevator pitch); sales tools and channels (resume, LinkedIn profile, interview prep, and network cultivation); and launch (plan execution and offer negotiation).

“The career management framework has served as our team’s vision and mission,” says Janet Huang, director of Working Professionals and Executive MBA Career Management at McCombs.

“Our staff has rallied around this framework, which ultimately created a community around and a single voice about career, and it has resonated with our students,” Huang says. “This is how we’ve been able to provide a unified career management experience across multiple campuses, and accelerate student success so quickly.”

Since the framework’s implementation, the positive outcomes have been immediate. “The results have been staggering,” says Stephens. “We are seeing better overall outcomes in terms of number of offers received and overall salary growth, including a 64 percent year-over-year increase in OCR offers received. And, both the number of students annually participating in career management workshops and advising as well as the percentage of students reporting improved job outcomes have more than doubled. That’s just over the past two cycles since the model was implemented.”