Updated: May 11
Questions to ask yourself when a big career jump feels out of reach
The much talked about ‘Triple Jump’ in the MBA community refers to the practice of switching industry, function, and location simultaneously post-graduation. Many students start their course with this ambition in mind. But the hard truth is that whilst there are many success stories each year, a successful triple jump is extremely difficult to achieve and some MBA students will need to take multiple steps to ultimately achieve their goal. In this article we look at questions you can ask yourself to help break your Triple Jump down into smaller, more manageable stages.
What do I actually want to change and what are the drivers behind this?
Some people come into their MBA knowing exactly what they want their next career move to look like, whilst others need more time to explore their options and think things through. Whichever category you fall into, it’s really important that you understand what the drivers are behind your desired change. Not only will this minimise the chances of you making a move that isn’t right for you in the long term, it also means that if things don’t go the way that you’d like with the big triple jump, you can identify the changes that are most important to you.
Is the big jump I want to make really unrealistic?
Whilst the triple jump is notoriously challenging, it’s important to remember that numerous MBAs do succeed at it every year! The key is to be realistic, not only in terms of your skills and experience but also the time and energy required to affect a major career change whilst also managing the other components of your MBA. Whilst all MBA students will devote a proportion of their time to career development or networking, those looking to triple jump will undoubtedly need to put more resources into this. it’s also vital to connect with those working in your target country/sector/role to gather intelligence to assess your chances of making the transition. Consider as well the practicalities and your resources. Big jumps take time and perseverance and may mean waiting longer post MBA to start a new position – do you have the resources to hold out for three months or more? Not everyone who Triple Jumps will have to do this but it’s important to understand what your limits are.
What is my top priority?
Many of the MBA graduates we speak to emphasise the importance of really understanding your priorities when it comes to making a career change. That way if the Triple Jump does prove to be out of reach, you can formulate a plan based on the changes which are most important to you. Ask yourself which are most crucial and why – but focus on the long term as well as the short term.
Who can I talk to who really gets it?
As well as networking with those who are working in your target areas, consider reaching out to those from similar backgrounds to yourself who have successfully transitioned to new industries, geographies or functions. They will often be able to highlight transferable strengths or skills from your profile that you may not have thought of yourself and advise you on the best way to present these. They can also help you to identify opportunities you may not have come across before which provide a great stepping stone to your ideal career.
What are my stepping stones?
Whilst some MBA graduates obtain their dream role right after graduation, many of the people we speak with talk about taking a series of steps to get them to where they wanted to be. Consider your end goal and then ask yourself what sort of moves might get you there? Are there specific skills you need to acquire and what sort of roles would give you these? Could voluntary work or MBA projects help you to bridge the gaps? What are the industries between your current one and the one you’d love to work in and how are they connected?
Remember that just because you don’t make your big career leap all at once doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Furthermore, taking smaller steps along the way might lead you on an interesting journey and open your eyes to paths and opportunities you never considered before.