Saleh Chowdhury, MBA ’17, On Preparing for Post MBA Employment
Saleh Chowdhury, MBA ’17, shares his experience at the Carroll School of Management and how the BC MBA helped him land a job at Amazon Web Services after graduation. He describes the most challenging aspects of searching for a job, how he prepared for his interviews, and why adaptability is key to success.
Where are you headed after graduation?
I am going to join Amazon Corp LLC as a Senior Financial Analyst as a part of their Finance Leadership Development Program, this position is based in Seattle, WA. It is a three year rotational program and my first rotation is with the Amazon Web Services organization, the cloud business of the company.
How did you prepare for the interview/job?
The interview process started in the first year of my MBA program. The process involved two stages of interview that led to my summer internship with Amazon and a final assessment at the end of my internship to determine whether I deserved a full-time offer.
The most critical part of my preparation was working on my IMPACT stories based on what we had learned in our Structure, Analysis and Integration (SAI) sessions. The acronym IMPACT stands for Individual Contribution (I), Manage or Lead (M), Persuasion (P), Analytics (A), Challenge or Failure (C) and Team (T). I identified my experiences in such situations and practiced how to tell the stories effectively and in a precise manner. The final stage of the recruitment process was my 12-week internship period. To prepare for this stage, I was asked by my mentors to simply review the Leadership Principles and try to incorporate each of those in my work. For Amazon, I felt that cultural fit is just as important as your technical skills, if not more. Coming from an entirely different work culture, I realized that keeping myself open to surprises and any required adaptation was the key to success in their fast-paced, results-oriented culture.
What classes have been the most impactful as they relate to your future position? Why?
I think all my MBA classes together have had a great impact on my overall capacity and skillset for my future position. It is more about learning how to approach a problem from an Executive’s point of view and finding a balanced solution that satisfies all or most of your stakeholders. The BC MBA taught us to be agile, effective and to-the-point, which is pretty much what you need at usual post-MBA positions.
From a strictly hard skills point of view, I would say the most impactful classes that would be relevant to my position at Amazon were Corporate Finance, Data Analytics (I, II and III), Machine Learning, Quality Management, and Risk Analysis & Simulation. These classes familiarized me with new, trending topics and gave me exposure to new analytical tools, which proved to be very useful during my internship and I believe will continue being so in the future.
What kind of criteria were you using for your job search? How did location play into your job search?
To be honest, location was not really a significant factor in my search criteria. I moved about 8000 miles for my MBA degree, and another few thousands wouldn’t make much difference as long as the job was interesting! My primary search filters were function (Consulting/Corporate Finance), sector (Energy/Tech/Financial), and needless to mention —the company’s willingness to sponsor my visa.
What was the most challenging part of the job search?
Well, there are two in my opinion—first, finding the intersection of my desired career path (function and sector), my ambition (size and reputation of the organization), and the actual niche of the international MBA students (sponsorship); and second, starting to network almost from scratch. While the MBA program design has an exclusive focus on networking, it is still difficult for international students to reach out to complete strangers in a completely different country and culture. It definitely gets easier with time, but the first few months were challenging for me.
Did you use Career Development and other BC resources?
Yes, I did. The MBA Focus/GradLeaders platform was critical in finding on-campus recruitment programs, information sessions, and other opportunities. My Career Advisor, Donna Modica, supported me every step of the search process, including resume review, prepping me for interviews, familiarizing me with various networking protocols in the U.S., and so on and so forth.
What will you miss most about Boston College? About Boston/Massachusetts?
My classmates and the beautiful campus, of course! My wife and I started a whole new journey together in this city. There are too many things to mention that we will miss about Boston. Though, it is quite likely that the Boston winter will not make that list!
Start early on your search for internship/job and give it as much focus as your academic commitments from the very beginning. It usually stacks up toward the end of your first quarter, which you don’t want. Also, make the best use of all the BC resources and the BC alumni network. I personally found the alumni to be approachable and helpful and I believe you will too.
Three words to describe your MBA experience?
Exposure. Learning. Development.