Young female manager talking to the head cook standing in a professional kitchen

Why you need a ‘private chef’ when it comes to transforming your career

While a buffet offers lots of options, Director of Graduate Business Career Services Jason Rife explains why you’re better off with a private chef when it comes to finding the career that’s right for you.

The career services experience within UF MBA is unlike that of any other full-time program. Due to the UF MBA program’s intentionally small cohort size, the Business Career Services (BCS) team can provide tailored, one-on-one attention to each student.

The metaphor I like to use is that of a restaurant – many larger programs offer a “buffet” approach, bringing their normal slate of recruiters to campus for information sessions and offering counseling and programming that students can choose to attend at their leisure. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the buffet, but the burden is really on the student to take the initiative to attend events and seek out information on potential careers. As with any buffet, you have a lot of choices, but it can easily become overwhelming. And what if you happen to miss out on what would have been your favorite item because you loaded up with other items that you ended up not liking at all?

The UF MBA model is more of a “private chef” in which your career coach takes the time to get to know you as a person and having honest conversations with you about your goals, both personal and professional. The training you’ll receive centers around identifying your unique attributes and learning to tell stories that specifically tie the experiences you’ve amassed to your target companies and roles. BCS coaches are particularly skilled at this since all of us have spent time recruiting in the private sector.

Our intake process actually starts before orientation and consists of a series of workshops and one-on-one appointments, including discussing your career goals, constructing a new resume, developing an elevator pitch, and fine-tuning your stories for interviews. The BCS mantra is “Train Like You Fight,” because we put you through realistic simulations that are designed to be tougher than what you will face with most companies. Our goal is to be the hardest interview you’ve ever had so you can walk into the real interview with confidence.

After running through the intake process, Full-Time MBA students have an on-call career coach who provides guidance every step of the way during the student’s career searches. Not sure how to handle asking for a deadline extension on an offer, received a vague email from a recruiter that you’re having trouble deciphering, or want to see if you can negotiate an increased salary? Your coach is just a call, email or text away.

Our team’s approach to building and maintaining relationships with employers mirrors our model for engaging students. We strive to get to know our recruiters and understand what they look for in an ideal applicant and what they offer in a career. What are the skillsets they need, what types of problems do they need solved, what are their values and what is their culture truly like? With our backgrounds in the private sector, the BCS team can easily relate to the challenges faced by recruiters and can rapidly build trust-based relationships. It is the strength of those relationships that enables our coaches to help students identify opportunities that could closely align with their specific personalities, backgrounds and goals.

While we have strong relationships with companies like ExxonMobil, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Procter & Gamble, IBM and KPMG, who all come to campus to recruit our students, we also put a significant emphasis on extending students’ opportunities off-campus. Every year, we bring our full-time students to a national career fair such as that sponsored by the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA). We train students to specifically plan for the unique and often intimidating environments of these national fairs, providing detailed planning and realistic simulations of the career fair setting. The BCS team travels with the students to the fair, and we heavily subsidize students’ travel and registration costs. During the fair, the BCS team is on the floor with the students at our booth right in the middle of hundreds of companies, helping Gator MBAs meet recruiters and secure interviews. After years of attending these fairs, I can confidently say that no other program offers the level of training and direct support to students.

The results of our approach speak for themselves. Check out the outcomes for the Full-Time UF MBA Class of 2018:

  • 96 percent of the class accepted a job within three months of graduation
  • 100 percent received offers
  • The average salary and signing bonus exceeded $120K
  • 75 percent of the class accepted roles based outside of Florida in places like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Houston, proving the reach of the Gator Nation
  • As of mid-February 2019, 90 percent of our first-year students have already received an internship offer for the summer, so our trajectory of success is continuing

It’s a great time to be a Gator MBA!

Jason Rife

Jason Rife is Director of Graduate Business Career Services. Before transitioning into career services, Jason spent a decade in private sector project management, corporate finance, marketing and strategy roles with ExxonMobil, John Deere, and McKinsey & Company. His love of recruiting and coaching students led him to make the jump to career services at UF, where he now teaches students how to tell their story to companies and helps companies recruit talented students. When he’s not advising students, he’s working with his team to identify ways to enhance BCS’s service model or coaching case competition teams on how to build and deliver presentations to corporate executives. You can read more about his background in Jason’s LinkedIn profile.

Want to learn more about how Jason and the Business Career Services team can tailor your career services experience to help you transform your career? Request information about UF MBA today.