Searer traded in his aspirations for a JD to earn his MBA. As a career switcher who’d never taken a business class, he wanted an MBA program that would give him the skills, confidence and network for success.
“On every count, that school was Kelley,” Searer says.
“As someone whose entire career was set up for something different, Kelley gave me a road map for how I could be successful in this career change,” Searer says.
Kelley’s Integrated Core served not only as a rigorous introduction to business fundamentals, it showed him how marketing, finance, operations and accounting work together. The Consumer Marketing Academy (CMA) gave him insight into real-world cases and the chance to apply what he learned on consulting projects. His CMA project served as a dress rehearsal for his internship, letting him learn how to work with a brand, how to use data to craft strategies and stories and how to work with people who have different leadership styles.
“My internship project was very ambiguous and had I not been comfortable figuring out how to tackle the problem, it could have been very difficult,” he says. “Because I had already tackled an ambiguous project in the CMA, I knew where to start and was able to quickly make my project more manageable.”
But even before the Core or the first CMA session—in fact before classes even began—Kelley was helping Searer pave his path to career success. During orientation, he participated with his Kelley peers in Me, Inc., an intense, introspective workshop that helped him chart his personal and professional goals, understand his leadership style and shape his personal brand.
“Me, Inc., was a much needed wake-up call. It helps you focus your career goals and highlights those soft skills you need to work on—before you’re in the middle of recruiting,” he says.
Marketing instincts and self-awareness have served him well. After landing a coveted summer internship with Mattel, a brand he’d loved since childhood, Searer leveraged his Academy experience to make an impact from day one—and a lasting impression that got him a job offer.
As he worked on his internship project, Searer put himself in front of executives and directors, took the time to get to know his cross-function team members and excelled at his project. He was able to turn road blocks into opportunities to approach the problem from a different angle and find an alternative solution.
“It’s powerful to go into meetings with solutions rather than to accept the status quo,” he said. And because of the relationships he made, he built a team of advocates among his team members.
“Work well with others—it’s something that is often overlooked but is very important.”
Searer’s plan doesn’t stop with a job. With career coaching and development from Graduate Career Services, Kelley helps MBAs like Searer shape their career trajectory. Searer plans to build that career at Mattel, and just as he did with his internship, he’s building relationships with leaders across the company, so that when an opportunity to advance arises, he’s top of mind.
“My career coaches always talked about how you have to be good to your company—but it’s also your career,” Searer says. “You have to figure out what you want and go make it happen. It’s your job to manage your career.”