Sergio Frisoli, MBA ’17, On Balancing an MBA and Searching for a Job
Sergio Frisoli, MBA ‘17, worked in education for over a decade before entering the MBA program at Boston College. Reflecting on his MBA experience, he explains what he found most challenging about balancing an MBA and searching for a job. Read on to see how the BC MBA prepared Sergio for his upcoming position at Johnson & Johnson and what advice he leaves for future MBAs.
Where are you headed after graduation?
I’ll be joining Johnson & Johnson as part of their Human Resources Leadership Development Program in New Jersey. I am very excited to be joining a company with the history, track record of success, and mission of J&J.
Was the BC MBA a career change/industry change for you? If yes, why did you make the change?
The BC MBA was absolutely a career changing move for me. I had worked for over a decade in education, and while I still love teaching and educational leadership, I was ready for a new direction. The MBA program opened up doors for me that would never have opened otherwise. I certainly had to work hard and take advantage of the opportunities, but I have no doubt that without the MBA, my options would have been far more limited.
How did you prepare for the job/interview?
The process of securing a job at J&J was “traditional” in a way, in that I followed many of the pathways that come recommended as you begin business school. First, I networked with current classmates, second-year BC MBA students, and BC alums who worked at J&J. Secondly, I worked closely with my career advisor. These steps helped me to secure an initial interview with J&J. I prepared thoroughly for the interview, doing extensive research on the company, preparing my “impact stories,” and practicing out loud several times. Once I secured an internship at J&J, I made sure to make the strongest impact I could during my internship. This led to my full-time job offer.
What classes have been the most impactful as they relate to your future position? Why?
Managing People and Organizations was very impactful because it discussed themes that are central to the practice of HR, such as effective leadership, motivating people, and shaping culture. It was one of the few business school classes that truly focused on the human side of business—the relationships, networks, and interactions that ultimately dictate much of one’s success in an organization. Corporate Strategy and Strategic Management were also very influential. Since I’ll be joining a global, multi-business organization, it’s important to understand how strategy is designed and implemented. These courses helped me gain a much broader, higher-level view of how large corporations function. Lastly, all of the Data Analytics classes have been instrumental. All business functions, even HR, are moving towards using more data analytics to inform decision-making. My data analytics skills should be a differentiator for me in the workplace.
What kind of criteria were you using for your job search? Were you looking in a specific geographical area? How did location play into your job search?
My primary criteria was organizational fit. I believe you have to work at a company that you can truly respect, stand by, and get excited by. As a career changer, I was less interested in industry or function and more interested in the culture, values, and mission of the company. Geography played somewhat of a role—I had to consider my wife, who has a successful career in patent law, and my 4-year old son—when choosing location, but we were pretty open to many places.
What was the most challenging part of the job search?
The most challenging part was getting started, and not letting academic responsibilities completely crowd out job-searching. The first year of business school is very fast-paced and challenging academically, so it’s easy to let other things such as job-searching get pushed aside. That’s a big mistake. I made a commitment to dedicate several hours per week to job-searching—simple things such as reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn, connecting with classmates and second-year students, and researching companies and job postings. I met bi-weekly with my career advisor, both to get advice and to keep myself accountable.
Can you elaborate more on how you utilized the Career Development Office?
My career advisor was instrumental to my job search and ultimately my job placement. From our very first meeting, she gave me broad ideas as well as specific people and companies to look into and get in touch with. She helped motivate me to explore many different avenues and gave me timely and helpful advice as I prepared for phone interviews and in-person meetings. In addition, the BC alumni network was also critical. I was able to secure three interviews through reaching out to BC alumni, and ultimately I strongly believe that the BC alums who are at J&J helped me land my job there.
What will you miss most about Boston College? About Boston/Massachusetts?
I’ll miss many things about Boston College. It’s a special place for me and always will be. The feel on campus is very comforting—it’s hard to describe if you haven’t been a student here. It really feels like a large, extended family. The faculty, the staff, the students—we share a common connection. It’s no wonder the alumni are so engaged with BC. I’ll miss the beautiful architecture and grounds; the passionate, supportive professors; and of course my talented, friendly classmates. As for Boston, I’ll miss the great food, beautiful beaches nearby, amazing museums, and breweries.
Any advice you’d like to leave for future BC MBAs?
First, use your time at BC to do some deep self-refection as to what truly excites you, what you’re passionate about, and what you could see yourself doing with your life. Education provides a unique opportunity to step back from life a bit and reflect on the past and the future. Secondly, make sure to work for a company whose values, culture, and mission align closely with yours. If they don’t, don’t go work there. Third, while I know the academics are really hard, remember to start your job/internship search early, and force yourself to set aside several hours per week to job searching. At the end of the day, what matters more, your grades in business school, or the job you got heading out of business school?
Three words to describe your MBA experience?
Transformational. Challenging. Confidence-building.