For 2020’s MBA graduating classthe year’s achievement has not only been particularly memorable, but also hard won. Embarking on the challenge of demanding and career-changing course only to have it disrupted by a global pandemic is a shock: it takes exceptional resilience and courage to maintain focus 

Julia De Vargas-Marquez and Natalia Milani Andreu, Directors of the MBA Career Development Center at IMD, were impressed with how well the Class of 2020 MBAs adapted to the switch to online recruitment processes and also how the IMD alumni community rose to support them.  

Interviewing over Zoom 

Describing the way the coaching process was modified to account for Zoom recruitment, De Vargas-Marquez said: “We started from scratch: how to use the camera, lighting options, how to be seated and how to engage people onlineThe interview simulator aided us in refining interview skills and we also trained the MBAs on how to excel in the different tests that companies are now heavily implementing.”  

Building networks 

The IMD alumni response to a call for support was a game changer, said Milani Andreu. “We received 500 emails with offers of help. In some cases, alums shared the links to open roles at their companies, and we surveyed them to identify who could help in particular sectors, roles or even geographically, and it lead to some very positive outcomes. It was a wonderful community endeavor,” she said.  

Virtual reality 

For now, virtual is the reality for most parts of the world. However, many of the tools used to support recruitment during the pandemic proved so beneficial that the team plans to deploy them in the future.  

Indeed, virtual recruiting strategies utilized during the pandemic are likely here to stay, said De Vargas-Marquez. And one silver lining is that the virtual format enables a wider net to be cast, especially in those industries committed to finding solutions to the pandemic and its repercussions. This year’s MBAs, for example, benefitted from being connected with global partners in tech, life sciences and pharmaceutical companies across the world. Both career development experts believe that this trend is likely to continue.  

Adaptation is key in disruption, and the two are pleased to have played a positive role for this year’s graduates. “It’s just as emotional for us as it is for them because, having worked with them for a year, we got to know them really wellKnowing that that we have played a role - added our grain of salt in their search - is wonderful,” said Vargas-Marquez.