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Finding a job during COVID-19 series: Aurel Hunkeler, MBA, EU Engineering Project Manager, Amazon

Updated: May 10, 2021

With COVID-19, MBA students may be wondering how realistic their goals are? Is it still possible to change careers? How long will it take me to find a job after my MBA? We interviewed those who have recently secured jobs to discover how the market for jobs for MBA graduates looks post COVID-19, asking them:

What they did to find a job during COVID-19 Their experiences of the market and hiring freezes How the pandemic shaped their post MBA job expectations

Name: Aurel Hunkeler

School: Warwick Business School, UK

Graduated: September 2020

Role: EU Engineering Project Manager

Company: Amazon

What were your career plans before your MBA and how were they impacted by COVID-19?

Since my Bachelors degree in 2011, I knew that eventually, I would do an MBA. All my mentors had recommended it and coming from an automation/logistics/E-Commerce background, a major reason for doing the MBA was to secure a role with Amazon.

From a learning perspective, in this industry, Amazon is THE company to go to. Plus once you have worked for Amazon, every company in this industry will want to hire you. I was convinced. However, during my MBA I was also open to roles in sectors that were new to me (e.g. finance, or legal sectors).

Did COVID-19 make your search harder?

At first, yes. I found it impossible to move into a new industry as I felt I had little to offer compared with more experienced candidates. Instead of trying to network with people I didn't know or applying for published jobs which were hugely competitive, I focused on contacting colleagues from previous jobs.

At what point did you secure your role?

I secured my role with Amazon in October 2020. However, I was already offered a job in July 2020 with a company my former manager had moved to. I declined that role though as I didn't want to stay in the UK anymore. Instead, in July 2020, I called the company where I had worked right before the MBA. They offered to give me my old job back, together with a promotion and a 30% pay increase. I agreed under the condition that it was a fixed term contract with a short notice period. I didn’t want to go back to my old role as it had been my intention to make a change. But it paid the bills and allowed me to look for another job while earning some money.

During that time, I was offered 2 other jobs from companies where previous colleagues had moved to. But I declined them as well. My ultimate goal was still to get a role with Amazon. I applied through their regular website and uploaded my CV. I did not do any further networking or anything else. Amazon contacted me and wanted to interview me. The interviewing process was not much impacted by COVID19, apart from the fact that all interviews were happening online.

Job hunting is hard at the best of times - how did you stay motivated?

I think the job market is much more competitive. Applying for jobs where you wouldn't get to the top 10% became pointless. Also, cities like London became even more competitive. I experienced hire freezes with companies that had interviewed me but could not offer me a position due to COVID-19.

What advice would you give to those who are searching for MBA jobs?

Transitioning to a different industry outside of your background may be difficult during these times. My tip, focus on where you can add value. Companies do not offer you a job because they want to offer you a change in career but because they have a problem that needs solving. Look out for jobs where you can be an asset from day one.

For more stories from current and past MBAs on programs, careers, and MBA life, listen to The Modern MBA podcast, every Thursday, wherever you get your podcasts. Click here to see all episodes and get a reminder to listen.

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