How to Create a Meaningful Career Path to Successfully Go from a Graduate Student to a Young Professional?

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By Alix Crichton,

April 26, 2020


The “What’s Next” Stage Challenge As A Graduated Student


Happy employees could increase “sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%.” (Shawn Achor, 2011). In 2011, Shawn Achor demonstrated that happiness at work is not only beneficial for self-development, but it is also a key success factor for employers.

This statement in mind, I dedicated my last year of graduate school in seeking the perfect job. As many Millennials, I felt that the traditional job market did not go along with a fulfilling career (Julia Ivy, 2019). The Answer seemed to be elsewhere, but, maybe, I did not ask myself the right questions.


An Uncommon Practical Application Of Graduate School Education


In May 2019, I started the last semester of my master’s degree at Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business. This semester was dedicated to a practical application of our education with the analysis of a real company case study (the cherry on the cake!). The objective was to select a company that was facing an international business strategy challenge, conduct a market intelligence, recommend a solution, and assess its feasibility.


See Opportunities


When Dr. Ivy told me that the first step, and most challenging one, would be to define my core as a professional, I realized that this case study will bring more than practical training. I spent the first month defining my long-term professional project with The BE-EDGE model. It enabled me to set a clear direction and break it down into small professional objectives, such as improving negotiation skills, managing projects, working with entrepreneurs, or working in an emerging market. This method rose my awareness of the array of potential professional paths available and helped me to step back from the anxiety of making the perfect decision.


To make the master’s case study meaningful, I targeted working with a small organization that follows a sustainable development mission and operates in emerging markets. To reach this goal, I took advantage of existing connections and develop new meaningful professional relationships. I had the opportunity to meet with school-affiliated business gurus, to finally work with a North American start-up founded by a Northeastern’s Alumni. This organization addresses social justice challenges in emerging markets. Right up on my alley!


After a series of interviews with the company CEO, I had a clear idea on what was at stake: this organization needed a business plan to develop its strategy of internationalization in an emerging market. I gathered enough data to conduct strong market intelligence and conceived plausible scenarios to answer the company challenge. Scenarios were thought to take advantage of the company’s strengths and mitigates its weaknesses, in the ways that match market opportunities and threats.


Build Skills with Confidence


The creation of a case study requires a strict methodology and a high capacity of analysis. As for its analysis, it is important to get an overall vision of the situation, and then, imagine and analyze valid scenarios. The choice of the optimal solution and the elaboration of a business plan must be relevant, convincing, and accurate; for the company to implement it on the targeted market. It is a complete task where I had the opportunity to improve my critical thinking and use my creativity. I discovered the complexity of global entrepreneurship, in term of financial challenges and company visibility.


When it comes to the development of a business strategy in emerging markets, it is critical to understand the cultural specificities of the targeted market and its geopolitical influences. In this case study, the key was to create trust with local influencers: politicians and distinguished professionals; before starting business activities.


Along with this project, two main challenges arose. The first was to communicate and value my ideas in front of the CEO. As a young professional, it was difficult to stand as an expert. My lack of confidence was felt by the client who became aloof. Afterward, I realized that I should have engaged the stakeholders more often along with the project in order to maintain their interest.


The second challenge was to align the company objectives: expected advantages, with the school requirements: application of education knowledge. To meet both expectations, I oriented the conversation toward results with the company, and toward the reasoning process with my school advisors.


While facing these challenges, I realized how little education prepares students in adapting and communicating with professionals. Thanks to the guidance of Dr. Ivy, I gained the confidence to advocate my ideas and improved my soft skills to adapt my communication to my interlocutors.


Employability And Beyond


From shaping a professional project, breaking it down into smaller professional goals, into achieving one of them; the case study analysis built-up my employability. It brought me to the heart of my professional inspirations and gave me a practical strategy to achieve it. The challenges faced along the project taught me about my strengths and weaknesses. I also observed that intellectual stimulation and human recognition are the drivers of my ambition.


After graduation, I was more confident about exposing my professional project, which helped me targeting the right network and get a position as a business operations manager. My objective is to streamline and enhance existing business processes, in order to ensure the company’s scalability.


A Little Bit About Myself



Alix Crichton, in 2019 I graduated from a dual degree master’s program in International Management at Northeastern University D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Boston, and Global Management at Neoma Business School, France. I am currently employed by a North American company distributing high-end optical equipment.