Mendoza School of Business

Great Leaders Begin by Looking Within

Published: July 31, 2017 / Author: Ryan Millbern

With the introduction of Career Leadership, a seven-week course for MBA students, the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame has enhanced an already robust leadership training program.

The results after just one year are stunning: Since the implementation of Career Leadership, the program has experienced 100 percent placement with internships, received a record number of offers from national hiring conferences and recorded the highest average internship salary in the program’s history.

The course’s success is a testament to the power of storytelling. Career Leadership equips MBA students to tell—and sell—the stories of themselves to potential employers in a manner that enables candidates to connect their passions and their values with the organizations that need them the most.

Career Leadership builds on the insights students gain during the Integral Leadership Development (ILD) program, a five-day intensive course that helps MBA candidates discern their most important values, strengths and weaknesses.

Students emerge from ILD ready to understand where their unique skillset fits in the current MBA hiring landscape. Enter Career Leadership.   “ILD is Notre Dame’s signature brand of leadership training, which focuses first on the inner game, and then on the outer game,” says John Rooney, director of graduate business career services. “We want our leaders to go through a robust internal analysis to understand who they are, what they’re good at and what they value. Then, we help them figure out how those manifest into a career development strategy.”

Phase 1 of Career Leadership: Understanding the Marketplace 

Career Leadership staff at Mendoza guide students through an in-depth analysis of the MBA hiring landscape, focusing on the industries, functions and companies that value MBAs the most. In addition, candidates attend career panels hosted by companies ranging from Amazon and SAP to Bank of America and Deloitte.

During these immersive career panels, employers offer professional insight into potential career paths—like how to manage brands or develop sales strategies—and share what they’re looking for in potential hires.

Equipped with this information, students revisit the insights from their ILD programming and connect the dots between their strengths and marketplace needs, ultimately compiling a target list of potential employers.

“Understanding the MBA hiring marketplace was very beneficial,” says JC Raney, a first-year Notre Dame MBA student. “This allows MBA students to effectively pursue the job search in a more efficient manner.”

Phase 2: Learning how to tell your story

Once they’ve identified best-fit companies, Career Leadership students learn how to tell the story of their distinctive business strengths to potential employers using the CAR method.

“We ask students to tell us three or four stories about when they were at their best,” Rooney says. “We ask them to break these stories down into Context, Action and Result (CAR). It helps students connect their success stories with skills and experiences that are valued by MBA recruiters. In the end, you have students who really understand – and can clearly articulate – their core positioning points in an interview setting.”

Phase 3: Matching your gifts to the needs of the world 

The results of this three-phase approach to career development have been astounding. “Recruiters tell us that this is the most prepared our candidates have ever been,” notes Rooney. “They’re more targeted in the jobs they’re pursuing, they’re more knowledgeable about their personal values, and they can more clearly communicate their skills and experience in job interviews.”After students receive coaching on how to tell their stories to recruiters, Career Leadership participants work with Career Services professionals on everything from résumé writing to interview skills.

Most importantly, Notre Dame students have been extremely satisfied with the course. “The first cohort of one-year MBA students at Notre Dame to participate in the course rated it a 4.4 out of 5,” Rooney reports. “And that’s the most important thing: ensuring that we’re delivering an experience that equips our students to serve as a force for good in the business world.”

To experience Career Leadership, join the Notre Dame MBA class by applying at