Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Dream Come True

For anyone who has been following my blog for the past year, you may be wondering what my next step will be after the MBA. After all, the sole purpose of getting an MBA is to land a job afterwards, isn't it? Well, I am happy to report that I have landed a dream position! I will be Operations Manager for bLife, a tech startup that focuses on health and wellness services. As the company is based in Los Angeles, I will be relocating in only a few days to begin the job soon.

The Importance of Networking
I am also happy to say that I was able to secure this position through my networking efforts. I met one of the co-founders of bLife in May while I was volunteering for C2-MTL and we kept in touch ever since. I know that I have often mentioned the importance of networking, but I cannot emphasize it enough.

In fact, I kept a spreadsheet of my job search process and I've recorded the successful methods through which I nabbed an interview. They include only the following: LinkedIn, HEC Montreal Career Management Services job posting, friends, and networking. While networking was not the only way I was able to score an interview, it was certainly the most fun!

Last week's McGill Young Alumni "Welcome Back" Cocktail

You may also be wondering how much influence the MBA had on my job hunt. First of all, I had access to a wide array of resources and people (i.e. professors, Career Management Services employees, courses, etc.) who contributed to my job search and helped me to narrow down my focus. I had actually met with my Managing Products and Brands and Responsible Marketing professor Yannik St-James at the very end of the program to obtain insight regarding health-focused companies in Los Angeles. Due to my meeting with my professor, I was able to identify that bLife was a perfect fit!

Furthermore, during an interview process, I was asked to prepare one PowerPoint slide identifying my fit with the company. For this file, I was able to pull from a framework that we learned in Strategic Management II entitled the SAFe criteria (suitability, acceptability, feasibility). The MBA certainly provided me with excellent tools to synthesize information and better contribute in a business environment.

The Future
However, the majority of my lessons from the MBA will probably only become apparent in the future, once I am faced with major decisions and difficult situations. I am looking forward to approaching these realities in a more equipped way. Moreover, I know that the business cases, discussions, and lessons that were raised during the year will allow me to be a more well-rounded employee with diverse knowledge to bring to the office. I can't wait to step into this next phase of my life!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to Develop a Network in a New City

As someone who recently traversed the continent to explore job opportunities in Los Angeles (LA) in a limited period of only two weeks, I feel that I am qualified to provide advice on networking in a new city. This is my ultimate how-to guide for building a network in a new city, with explanations as to how I did it.

Reconnect With Friends
I am a fearless communicator who is not afraid to contact someone from my distant past. Before my trip to LA, I contacted everyone I knew in the area, including a previous colleague, college friends, high school friends, friends of friends, etc. In general, people are more than happy to help you in navigating the new city. An added bonus is that some of these friends can provide you with career advice or connections!

Do Your Homework
I did not just want to see friends, as it was important during my trip to focus on my job hunt. I was lucky enough to connect with someone in LA beforehand who could introduce me to individuals who I could meet with once I arrived. Since I knew I would be meeting them soon, I was able to review their LinkedIn profiles and learn about them before arriving in LA. I also reconnected with business contacts who I had met previously in Montreal.

Find Events in the Area
This was probably the most important aspect of my trip. Since I am interested in women's issues, startups, tech, and social media, I actively sought events that focused on these topics. To find events, I used the searches on Eventbrite and Meetup, asked my friends, and even just Googled "free Los Angeles" plus the specific date I was looking to schedule for. By using this technique, I discovered and attended the following events, in chronological order:

Me and Celia Ward-Wallace, organizer of the Empowering Women Every Day Happy Hour

MBA Women Connect - Santa Monica

Yes, it was exhausting, but I needed to maximize the success of my trip by meeting as many people as possible. Importantly, these were people with common interests, so I was already placing myself in an effective environment.

Have Fun
It is hard to believe, but I also managed to fit in activities that were not career-related. I spent a day on the set of Glee, went to two comedy shows, walked along the beach, etc. This downtime was critical in giving me a bit of a break in my busy schedule and helping me to gather my thoughts and relax. It also gave me something else to talk about with people besides my job search!

Monday, October 8, 2012

La-La Land

My first LA week was capped off with a variety of activities. On Friday night, I attended Women 2.0 Founder Friday - Los Angeles, where I heard Holden Steinberg, founder of PageWoo, speak about her experience as a female startup founder. It was a great event to network with a vast array of people (not just women!), including the couple featured in this 2005 New York Times article about Carnet, a luxury lifestyle business.

Throughout the weekend, I walked along the beach and made the most of the sunny time outdoors. I got the requisite visitor sunburn and took photos during the daylight and sunset (pictured above).

Although I'm on east coast time, I've managed to stay up for nighttime festivities. On Saturday night, I went to the Laugh Factory Hollywood with my free ticket from comedian Sunda Croonquist. Since I had already reviewed the all-star comedy lineup, I was shocked when Sunda announced that Dane Cook was there to make a surprise visit and perform his latest material. During the evening, I had a chance to briefly speak with Dane Cook and Anosh Sheytan, an up-and-coming comedian from Sweden (photo below).

Dane Cook and Anosh Sheytan (Swedish comedian and actor)

My weekend concluded with a delicious Italian meal along the beach. Now I'm off to make the most of my second week in La-La Land.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Silicon Beach

Santa Monica Pier

It's been a week since I last blogged, but I have a really good reason: I've been scoping out the LA scene, to pursue job opportunities here. While in Los Angeles, I have enjoyed a day on the set of Glee, a meeting and tour at the DreamWorks Animation offices, a walk along the Santa Monica Pier, and a TechZulu Tech Crawl in Santa Monica. While at the Tech Crawl, I felt that I was very much in my element, as it reminded me of startup and tech events that I've attended back in Montreal. I met a variety of people at the event, from UCLA Anderson MBA students to first-time entrepreneurs.

In Silicon Beach, the startup founders and techies grapple with the fact that they are working hard while their friends lie out on the beach. North of the border, though, the Quebec tech sector seems to be worried about the PQ's plan to bolster the use of French in their offices (see the Montreal Gazette article here). Meanwhile, in New York City, the program Girls Who Code is equipping young females with skills to succeed in the male-dominated tech industry, as reported by Fast Company at this link. Though I'm not yet sure whether I will end up in Montreal, New York, LA, or another location, I do know that if I'm in Montreal, I hope to participate in next year's C2-MTL event. The 2013 lineup was announced and it looks like there will be some great speakers!

I have to say, though, the weather in LA has been beautiful and my trip has already been a lot of fun, making it feel as though living out here would be a dream come true. (There are, of course, downsides which include traffic and unreliable people.) We shall see what happens as I continue to network and pursue employment opportunities here.