Career coach #4: Private sector and the Fletcher network

Many students at Fletcher want to pack up their professional skills and move to a new sector for their post-Fletcher careers.  In today’s blog post, the Office of Career Services career coach for the private sector provides suggestions for making a transition to a private sector career.

Students who are interested in working in the private sector after graduating from Fletcher frequently ask about strategies to get there.  I believe one of the keys to success in transitioning from the non-profit or public sector to the private sector involves — and I know this is not rocket science — NETWORKING!!!  As a career-changer, you might be overlooked on paper.  Networking gives you the opportunity to interact with people one-on-one and sell your enthusiasm and transferable skills.  This is especially true in an economic climate such as the one we’re in now, but networking is essential under any circumstances.  In fact, we in OCS feel so strongly about the importance of networking that we devote an entire Professional Development Program (PDP) session to this topic. The PDP is very interactive and it gives students the chance to practice the program’s content.

So, back to networking….In addition to the practice opportunity offered during the PDP, I highly recommend that students do a “mock informational interview,” which allows them to practice with an OCS coach.  Students who have taken advantage of the mock interviews report that, as a result, they have felt more comfortable when networking.

The student-organized private sector career trip to New York is another great way to get started on the transition to the private sector, providing a forum for putting those networking skills to work.  The trip takes place in the fall — classes are canceled to make it possible for students to attend — and it includes a number of site visits to employers, as well as small-group lunches with New York-based alumni.

Finally, the Fletcher alumni network is an outstanding resource for Fletcher students interested a private sector career.  Fletcher alums are typically very happy to help students, as well as fellow graduates.  Just today I was speaking with an alumnus from the 70s about his plans to change jobs, and he mentioned how incredibly responsive and helpful the Fletcher network has been to him over the years.  I was pleased, then, to hear him say how important he feels it is to “give back,” and offer support to other alumni and students!  Assistance provided by fellow Fletcher graduates could take a number of different forms, including reviewing a résumé, assisting a student looking to get a foot in the door of the alum’s company, offering an introduction to someone else in the Fletcher network who might be helpful, or providing an “ad hoc” internship for the student.

Making a career transition takes some effort, but with networking and the Fletcher network, a move to the private sector is possible, and is achieved by many members of every graduating class.

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