Graduate Blog / Career Development

A One Year MBA’s Career Development Journey

By Bernardo Heiremans, MBA One Year (2017) & Graduate Affinity Conference Scholar

Bernardo Heiremans, a One Year MBA at Babson College, discusses his experience attending the Prospanica Conference as an Affinity Scholar and international student from Chile. 

The Prospanica conference is the premier gathering of Hispanic business professionals, entrepreneurs, emerging leaders, universities and corporations in the U.S. As an international student, the task of getting a job in the U.S. is not easy, it requires a real commitment to allocating time to do it, when probably, most of the time you are busy with schoolwork. Classes, assignments, group meetings, MCFE, student clubs, networking events and in my case, my wife and two kids waiting for me at home every day, has made this task very hard. However, I understand its importance and, therefore, chose to attend the Prospanica Conference to support my career development.

Prior to Babson, I worked for more than 8 years at General Motors in Chile and I always knew that the best job search strategy, for me, is to target the automotive industry. GM was going to be one the companies participating in the conference, and I wanted the opportunity to talk to them in person about my experience working for the company and my career goals.

The Prospanica Conference Career Expo.

The Prospanica Conference Career Expo.

The Prospanica Conference was a 3-day event. The first day consisted of a networking workshop and several info sessions from different companies, plus an evening reception. In Chile, networking is not a common thing to do when someone is looking for a job and in fact, I didn’t feel comfortable when doing it, so it was really good to start the conference by learning how to improve my networking skills. I learned that the key to networking is to be confident and have a strong elevator pitch. Networking is not all about getting a job but gaining insights from other professionals. The benefits of networking are mutual and you never know if the person you are talking to is going to help you or vice versa. After getting my feet wet with some networking, I felt much more confident during the rest of the conference and felt I was better prepared to approach others.

The second and third days at the conference involved the career expo, where I was able to meet several companies and continue practicing my networking skills. At the expo, I was able to talk with the Executive Director of Global Product Marketing at GM about my experience working for Chevrolet and Opel in Chile, as well as my MBA experience and career goals. Given the conversation, it seemed that my background and experience were of interest to GM because of my expertise in the industry. This confirmed one of the key learnings I obtained and can summarize below:
  • Networking is key to be a successful professional, either if you want to work as an employee or if you want to be an entrepreneur.
  • No matter how busy your weekly schedule is, you must be able to allocate time to look for a job.
  • Cover letter is not just copy/paste. Many times what makes the difference between two candidates is the cover letter so you must tailor yours for each position you are applying.
  • Be persistent. As an international student who does require visa sponsorship my options at the career expo seemed limited. However, if you want a job or a specific company, you have to be persistent, no matter what the rules or procedures of the company are, and this is linked to the last point.
  • Show the company your value long before they start asking the undesirable question about the visa status and that is why your pitch is so important.
Bernardo Heiremans, MBA'17, at the Prospanica Conference in Houston, TX.

Bernardo Heiremans, MBA’17, at the Prospanica Conference in Houston, TX.

Thank you very much to the Babson Graduate Affinity Conference Scholarship for giving me the opportunity to attend this event. I hope my experience could be useful to other students in the same situation and I encourage my classmates to take advantage of all the wonderful events that happen outside of our campus.