From Casing to Pitching: Navigating Career Search

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By Sagar Pagare Lauder/WG`15 (Japan Track)

Like most other students, I came to Lauder with certain career plans in mind. I am engineer and I was working in the technology industry prior to Wharton, and I wanted to get an MBA to change my job function from engineering to strategic planning. When I arrived on campus in May 2013, I had in mind 2-3 career profiles that I would have liked to pursue after my MBA. I began discussing my options with Kim Conroy, our dedicated career advisor only for Lauder students, who helped me to clarify my options.

In my mind I wanted to work for a big tech firm in its global strategy division. My other options were Chief of Staff to the CEO or other roles in the CEO`s office. Kim helped me understand that these roles would be difficult to get without any experience at a top consulting firm. I also spoke with many Lauder alumni, whom Kim helped me to connect with, who reiterated this story. One particular Lauder alumnus was now working at Google`s Global Strategy Division after a stint at Bain and Company. My conversations with Kim and these alumni helped to a chart a very specific road forward. I was now focused on strategy consulting as my immediate short-term goal.

I also took help from Wharton`s career management resources. When school began in August, my background research was complete and I was ready to ask more pointed questions. I met with Wharton`s dedicated advisors in the technology and strategy consulting sector and asked for their guidance. They helped to understand my own story and together we made a list of issues to work on before recruiting began in October. I also met with Tom Tinsley, Lauder Global Fellow, multiple times to better understand the differences between top consulting firms.

With all this preparation and research done I was all set for the recruiting season, but then I had a chance encounter with a second year Wharton student who was a budding entrepreneur. The venture she was working was something I myself had pondered upon and discussed several times in my previous job. I wanted to work with her full-time on the idea but that meant I would have to quit my other recruiting plans. I was of two minds and terribly confused, so I again sought help from Lauder community.  I discussed my options with Lane Rettig, a second year Lauder student (Chinese track), who I knew was pursuing his own venture while at Wharton/Lauder. He was very supportive of my choices and helped me understand the pros and cons of the two very different paths. I eventually decided to focus on the venture and dropped out of all my consulting interviews. I am now applying for the Lauder Santander Award, which encourages students to pursue their own ventures in the summer instead of a traditional internship.

I have no idea how the next year will turn out, but I would like to believe that my venture will be successful. Some things change while others don`t – I still wear the same business suits that I wore for my case interviews, just that I now wear them for pitching to investors.