At the Rotman School of Management we pride ourselves in preparing our students for their next career move, whatever that may be. The support needed to achieve this varies from program to program, and from individual to individual, which is why we have a dedicated member of the careers service for each of our programs. In this post we hear from the Professional Coach for the MMA program, Diana Byers.
Diana stands as a key career point of support and contact for Master of Management analytics students of all stages and disciplines with career and self-development. In this blog, Diana shares with us her background and journey to her career in coaching, as well as valuable tips for career search. This blog is the first of a three-part series about our Career Services at Rotman.
Could you tell me a little bit about your background?
My background is an interesting one. I come from industry, and I’m also a career changer. I really can identify with the students who are not sure where they want to go, or those who currently are doing one thing, but want to change to something else.
I worked for almost a decade in client services, focusing on digital marketing and client services. I led teams to build websites and apps for client products, and worked with developers, designers and product managers. I then decided I wanted to transition into coaching to make a 1:1 impact with others.
“I really wanted to work with students, I even worked as a recruiter for a tech start-up – I actually helped to build their Data Science team!”
These different experiences are helpful to my role now. I can leverage my experience from client services – how to put your best foot forward and use your strengths – and from the recruitment side. I understand what companies, particularly tech companies are looking for, and why they need what they are seeking. I’m also an ICF certified coach which gives me skills to coach in a more impactful way.
As an ICF certified coach I’m able to help our student understand who they are (their strengths and weaknesses), what they need, and how to get there.
Tell us a little bit about your role as a Career Coach and the Career Service team at Rotman?
My role is about ensuring that we offer the right support to our students so that they can find a job after finishing the MMA program that sets them on the career path they want to follow. This means a lot of conversations with MMA faculty and our Program Services team to develop career programming that ties in well with the other elements of the program. It also means speaking to and working with employers to make sure our students are well prepared for the job application process.
We are always adapting what we offer based on the needs of the students, and the requirements of industry. For example, there has been a lot of interest in the past few years in roles in technology, along with consulting. Due to this we’ve shifted some of the focus of our activity to prepare students for these fields.
“We are constantly looking at where students want to work geographically, organizationally and in terms of industry.”
You’re part of a wider careers team at Rotman. Could you tell us about how the wider team benefits the MMA students?
The Careers Services team at Rotman is incredible. We have a full team of Career Coaches, looking after our specialized programs and MBA’s. While I focus on MMA, I work with my colleagues from other programs; we are always sharing best practices and learnings from our students and looking for ways to collaborate, such as the Career Discovery Week.
There is also a team of Industry Advisors who look after a specific industry, and have close connections with the organizations, partners, and alumni who do the hiring. They are making sure that the activities and sessions we’re offering match what employers need and the employers are well aware of the skillsets of Rotman students and alumni.
A good example is my colleague on the Industry Advisor team who has the relationships with the consulting firms. They know and understand the hiring cycles for the different firms, the details of the recruitment process, and what the company are looking for. They are then able to give that information to me, and I can work with students interested in that area on what they need to do to be successful in the process. Students can also book a 1:1 appointment with an Industry Advisor to dig deeper into their industry of choice.
“You could look at it as myself and the Career Coaches are experts in developing you as the student as career-ready individuals, and the Industry Advisors are experts in what the market wants and needs. By working closely together we make sure the student and employer experience is seamless.”
We can’t also forget my colleagues who support the practicum projects! There is a lot of work that goes in to making sure the projects run smoothly, from helping to set up the opportunities to making sure the students have completed all the correct paperwork and running the events and session related to the project. We also have a fantastic Operations team who provides technical and event support for all things related to Career Services.
The Rotman MMA program has a relatively small cohort. What does that mean for Career Services support?
The small cohort is one of the things I love! The smaller size means I really can get to know the students well, which has a positive correlation with how I can support them meaningfully. Every week I have a conversation that goes along the lines of ‘Hey Diana, such and such company are looking for someone interested in these areas, to do this role’. It is common for me to know one or two people straight away who could be a fit for that type of opportunity, based on how regularly I connect with the MMAs.
“The cohort size means I can be much more responsive and curate the support they need.”
How often do you typically interact with a student?
At the beginning of term, I meet with every student individually in an Introduction meeting. Some students may delay their job search until after at the end of the program, however I want to get an understand of what everyone is interested in and where they may need support so we can offer them the most valuable connections and opportunities.
After this, I recommend students meet with me every two to four weeks throughout the program. It will also depend how much support they require with their job search. Some students are more active and I may see more frequently.
“As the cohort is small, it’s easier for me to connect with everyone and know where they are in their search and how I can best support them”
What top tips would you give to someone, so they are able to make the most of working with you and the careers team at Rotman?
Come with an open mind.
Make sure you read the communications sent early in the program carefully, be as prepared as possible and be careful not to overcommit and say ‘yes’ to everything as it’s easy to overwhelm yourself with all the possibilities at Rotman. That’s where I can help.
Gather information, we can meet, see where you’re interested in going and we can discuss what is best to do in any given situation. Think of me as your one-stop-shop career resource.
What has been your personal highlight so far, what have you really enjoyed about the job?
I can honestly say that every meeting with the students brightens my day. That’s not an exaggeration. The students, their success, their passion, their energy – it gives me energy.
The feeling that I’m making even just a small difference to the students is very inspiring. When they call or email me to say they are accepting an offer, and they say they couldn’t have done it without my help, my heart just glows.
“Even though I’m only a small part of their success it helps me to know I’m in the right place and having an impact on the success of the MMA students.”
The Master of Management Analytics is designed to give students the advanced data management, analytics, and communication skills needed to become an analytics professional.