ANIRUDDHA KOKARE – “The next person on your page”

When I first started “How I got my job in the U.S.“, Aniruddha, a friend of mine, told me several times that he will be the next person on my page. That has inspired me a lot as I know by that time, he was struggling to find a job after graduation. Aniruddha is now working as a Senior Knowledge Analyst at The Boston Consulting Group in Boston.

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Toan Vo reached out to me after I landed a full-time job as a Senior Knowledge Analyst with The Boston Consulting Group late last year to write a short story on ‘How I got my job in the U.S.’. He has been constantly persuading me (Although, I am not good at writing and hence lazy about it too), but considering his passion for the blog and dedication to help others – I owed him one.

Toan is a very good friend from Brandeis International Business School; he is a constant inspiration owing to his extensive knowledge, high levels of preparation and soft-spoken nature. He constantly sets the bar higher for himself and others and is a go-to person for career-related chat, hiring circumstances and also for quick scoop on employer information.

Early in our Brandeis days, he gave me valuable pointers on how to network and make productive LinkedIn connections, an advice which helped me throughout. We were constantly in touch even after our graduation in May ’15 and I often reached out to him during my job-search; when I needed help in matters of networking, or when I was stuck in a career-related dilemma.

To share my background, I completed my undergraduate degree from Mumbai University with a Bachelor’s of Engineering specializing in Information Technology and post that worked for five years as a Technology (Database) Consultant with a boutique consulting firm and a services MNC in India. My work experience in the techno-functional role gained me tremendous technological know-how and the consultant profile helped excel at client relationship, team management and cross-functional collaboration. It also developed an interest to gain further business skills to broaden scope for further career-opportunities; leading to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration. So, here I am, sharing my part with you all and hope you find it resourceful to make the most in your career. I wish you all the best and good luck!

Network strong and keep connections alive: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.”

Networking is a crucial aspect in finding the right opportunity, so start early and build a strong network. Make professional connections on LinkedIn; send a small intro describing yourself, your field of interest. Interact with potential-employers at career fair, connect with recruiters and make good contact with alumni. Keep in close contact with people whose work profile interest you, such as they know you on a personal basis; meet with them for a coffee or lunch or connect over a phone call when something opens up, you are the person they think of.

During my job search, I was interested in a pre-sales role with Microsoft at the NERD campus in Boston office. Before making an application online or through a recruiter, I decided to speak to someone in that role regarding my application. I browsed profiles zeroing on a few people and contacted them through LinkedIn and Meetup.com (a great platform to meet with people interested in your field of interest, be it sports or work-related) and met with two Microsoft folks. They gave me exhaustive information on the role and helped me understand: 1. Hiring factor & pattern; 2. Distinguish between different roles and if my profile/ experience was suitable; 3. A quick feedback helped me streamline my resume for the specific role; and 4. Any additional efforts needed to highlight my profile for the role. In a way, networking helped me get inside scoop on the interested role and moreover, I was referred internally by the same person.

Having a mentor is highly significant to your outcome, I was fortunate enough to have mentors who had successfully been thru the job finding rigorous process; they provided me with valuable insight and knowledge on the dos and don’ts for during interviews & application. Finding a mentor who is aligned with your interest can be a bit hard, but they will be the best Guru and will actively help in your develop your overall profile and to network.

Get relevant work experience: Gaining a quality experience in the field of your interest is a big plus with respect to future job prospects.

While in the first year of MBA, our school started course in Analytics and offered to provide a specialization in the field of Data Analytics. It was a good opportunity to keep technical aspect to my career lively while still gaining business-finance knowledge. I signed on with the courses, spoke with a few Professors regarding job prospects and it in-turn helped me finding a fresh interest in Analytics as a career prospect. Gaining project experience at school and having to work on latest tools helped gaining focus on finding an internship with Henry Schein in the field of Analytics

Additionally, I also took a consulting course with a project having a mix of technical and business challenges, a direction I saw my career moving in. I focused on technology plus business strengths and utilize my pre-MBA knowledge to gain experience in and to increase likelihood in future job prospects. I got introduced to the latest technological tools and problems in the Analytics industry and was aware of the issues, and requirements that would come forth from clients when I would actually start work. I communicated this experience immensely during my interviews, left a positive impression and a potential edge on other potential candidates.

Get certified! Invest in yourself:

My first employer sponsored me for a Microsoft certification, my first thought – what difference does it make if I have a certification? I need to have the expertise and not a piece of paper that certifies my knowledge. But as I worked with varied clienteles in different industry profile, I foresaw that most of them placed high confidence in a candidate with certification relevant to the job profile. So my recommendation for you would be to get certified in your field of interest, and keep a target of upgrading it throughout your career. Be it, Microsoft, Oracle or CFA/ CPA or PMP/ Six sigma, get certified within your field of interest with a view towards your future career prospects.

After I started with BCG, my manager told me that my certification differentiated me from other candidates and brought an edge to my resume. Certification helps in resume building and communicates your seriousness to prospective employers in your field of interest and is the best form of investment for your future career.

Believe in yourself and keep walking:

On our first day of orientation at Brandeis, we were told of the hardships we would face during the two-year program and the importance of facing all the challenges positively. I faced many of them, survived through some of them, but learnt from each one. Utilize all the experiences in your personal and professional lives and leverage them to benefit yourself, this is what will define where you stand, define your ability to learn and convert opportunities.

Be dynamic and open to new ideas:

Analytics came as a new field during my MBA and because it aligned with my previous experience I went on with specializing in the field of Data Analytics. I embraced it, as it gave me an edge, focused my outlook and I built a stronger work profile which was a potential advantage over other candidates. Similarly, I would suggest you to not be rigid and be open to new ideas where disruption is the key.

Utilize all options and give it your best:

I relied more on few methods like applying online and internal referral but still kept on contacting recruiters on LinkedIn and emailing my profile directly with a short intro on myself. While I was uncertain which method would work out in the end, a few methods worked better than the rest. Career fair and consulting agencies are the other ways I tried to meet with potential employers. There is no right way to ascertain what will work for you, as it did for me, I strongly recommend to try out all ways of contacting employers, recruiters and to send applications and not to stop at that, but actively follow-up.

Mid-way during my applications I had lost all hope in online application on employer portal, but BCG contacted me from an online submission of resume and successfully went on through seven rounds of interview to be selected. I rigorously used all resources to prepare myself for each round of interview and gave my best while having a positive attitude and here I am working for my dream organizations.

In sum, there is no certain way or a thumb-rule to land your dream job, but the only mantra is to be constantly positive; this is the only way forward. Learn from failures so that you are best prepared when the right opportunity comes knocking. Friends and family too play a vital role; they kept me motivated and believed in me.

Believe in yourself!!!

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