The Power of Networking and Mentorship

Written by Emil Teja, MiM2024

A career development mantra that you’ve probably heard again and again is ‘networking is key’, particularly in the context of going to business school.

Prior to joining LBS, I certainly expected that a major value-add of the MiM programme would be the connections and community I would subsequently take forward. Nine months into the programme, I can confidently say that the 2024 MiM cohort, which I’ve had the great fortune of being a part of, has exceeded those expectations; I’ve made friends I hope will be lifelong, learnt extensively from my peers, and expanded my worldview through the cohort’s diversity. However, one aspect of the Graduate Masters (GM) LBS experience that I was not at all expecting to be such a significant value-add has been my peers outside the MiM cohort, in particular, the more experienced MBAs and MiFs.

It all comes down to the fact that, in choosing an LBS GM programme (whether it’s the MiM, MFA and MAM), you’re not just joining that specific programme’s cohort but also the entire LBS ecosystem, including MBAs, MiFs (FT & PT), EMBAs, and Sloans. Having already spent an average of 5.5 years (MBAs & MiFs) working prior to joining LBS (many in the firms and industries you’ll be applying to), peers on these programmes have a wealth of experience that they are more than happy to share. Having access to their wells of insight has had a profound impact on my LBS journey and career search, so I’m pleased to share my experiences and top tips for making the most of the LBS ecosystem.

Level up with MBA/ MIF Peer Advisors

Beginning with the mentorship channel that I benefitted the most from, MBA and MiF ‘Peer Advisors’ volunteer their time through the Career Centre to provide sector-specific mentorship, coaching and advice (think mock interviews, exploratory coffee chats, CV reviews etc.). Just like the rest of the Career Centre’s 1-on-1s (I.e., with career coaches and sector advisors), booking Peer Advisor sessions is done in a few clicks on the Career Centre portal. Each Peer Advisor posts a bio, highlighting their previous employers and sector experience, helping you identify the most suitable person to book a session with.

To put it simply, this was a game changer for me while preparing for case interviews. By the end of the Autumn Term, despite doing plenty of case practice with my MiM peers, I didn’t receive an offer from either of the two consulting firms that I interviewed with. Returning from the winter break, determined not to ‘continue doing the same things while expecting a different outcome’, I completed 7 mock cases with peer advisors. While each session was with a different peer advisor, they had all either worked in top consulting firms prior to joining LBS, or, as many MBAs do, successfully applied for and completed consulting internships the summer before. The incredibly detailed feedback that I received from each session, and the challenge of casing with ‘experienced strangers’ (which mirrors the real thing) is what, I believe, ultimately what gave me the edge to successfully receive an offer the next time I interviewed.   

Boost your soft skills through the Graduate Masters Mentoring Programme

Another direct channel through which experienced members of LBS’ student body support the GM cohorts is the ‘Graduate Masters Mentoring Programme.’ In contrast to the Peer Advisor initiative, the GM Mentoring Programme focuses on ‘professional skills development,’ with 8 skills in focus: confidence building, negotiation, interpersonal skills, networking, leadership, time management, stakeholder management, and setting goals. In the year I spent working before LBS, I realised my growth had plateaued during my undergraduate studies and developing such essential professional skills would require targeted effort (part of my motivation for joining LBS in the first place). Naturally, I jumped at this opportunity for mentorship.

The GM Mentoring Programme is optional, and the graduate masters who opt-in are asked to identify which professional skills they would most like to develop over the course of the year. They are then paired with a dedicated MBA, MiF or Leadership programme mentor who has volunteered and identified themselves as someone that can offer mentoring on those skills.

 An additional, indirect benefit of the Mentoring Programme is also in learning how to be mentored and what a good mentorship relationship actually looks like. To achieve this, the programme is initially quite structured for both mentors and mentees – mentees are required to complete an ‘Action Plan’ ahead of the first meeting and guidelines are provided on the purpose and ethos of mentorship. Beyond the first meeting, however, the relationship is self-managed by mentors and mentees, with the expectation of 2-3 further meetings during the year.

Get involved in the LBS Club Network

The LBS club network is a cornerstone of the student experience – other student ambassador blogs have been solely dedicated to capturing its central role at LBS so if you haven’t already, I’d recommend giving those a read. Purely from a networking and mentorship perspective, they offer the Graduate Masters a variety of interest-sharing communities, with strong participation from experienced MiFs and MBAs. As a result, active engagement with club socials and speaker events provides an opportunity to supercharge your learning and network, either within a particular sector (for industry-specific clubs) or generally (for industry-agnostic clubs like sports clubs).

During my time at LBS, I opted to join the PEVC club given my motivation to work in VC at some point after the MiM. As I’d already done an internship in VC and been active in the VC club of my undergraduate institution in London, joining the club’s ExCo also made sense. On top of meeting numerous peers with strong ambitions and experience in the sector and attending a number of incredibly insightful events (including a dozen office visits on the London VC Trek), the PEVC club also supported me in navigating a challenging career decision- choosing between starting out in consulting or going straight into VC. With no obvious right choice, I reached out to the head of the club’s VC arm, a 2nd year MBA who’d started out in consulting and was transitioning into VC. Leveraging his experience, as well as advice I received from the LBS Careers Centre, empowered me to make the decision with confidence. 

Engage with the LBS Alumni Network

Last but not least, it’s no secret that LBS has developed a top-class alumni network which you can access as soon as you join an LBS GM programme. As early as a month into the MiM (which was probably later than some of my MiM peers), I was reaching out to alumni for coffee chats and attending networking events on campus ahead of consulting applications. The LBS alumni that I reached out to were responsive, supportive and friendly, and what stood out to me most was how invested they were in my success; in one case, I was in regular contact with two alumni at a particular firm during the application and they even got in touch with the recruiter on my behalf when the process slowed down. It’s no secret that speaking to people within the firms that you’re applying to is good practice (and in many cases essential), and the warmth of the LBS alumni community makes this significantly less challenging. Indeed, I certainly intend to give back the support I received with future Graduate Masters cohorts.    

Final Thoughts

Regardless of where you are in your LBS journey, whether that’s still deciding if it’s for you or getting ready to join the next cohort, in my experience, it does pay dividends to think long-term and plan ahead. While the LBS ecosystem is certainly one that can be “harvested” as soon as you join, for example via Peer Advisors or the GM Mentoring Programme, it also provides fertile ground for planting seeds and cultivating relationships that will likely be the difference much later down the line- perhaps you’ll meet a future co-founder or someone who at some point opens the door for a career pivot. As with all things in life, however, it’s about finding balance, and I’d be selling the LBS experience short if I didn’t mention how enjoyable it’s been developing fresh friendships, being exposed to new ideas and living through the novel experiences.

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