The Fastest Path to Finding Career Fit and Your Next Job

That was the title of the workshop I presented last month at the 2016 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference in Long Beach, California.

My talk was one of the tens offered up over the three-day conference to thousands of students who are looking to advance themselves upon graduating with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree.

I showed them a slice of the career development curriculum we use for our Master of Technology Management (MTM) students each year. Although it’s only a slice, it’s one of the most powerful skills they will repeatedly use throughout their careers – not just for each of their career moves – but also for the successful execution of their responsibilities. 

Get into your Personal Time Machine

Over the past three years, I have applied this same framework to my current product – students and others who are looking to find their next job that fits their skills and sensibilities. My career with startups allowed me to build insight into the framework and the skills to understand what the revenue and product development future looks like for a product long before it is ready to be sold. 

So what did I present to the SACNAS attendees? 

I talked to them about choosing their Personal Time Machine (PTM) – literally climbing into their personal time machine - to learn about themselves. This is the best way to learning about your career, building a network of appropriate mentors, and finding your best fit in the shortest amount of time.

What do you do once you climb into your personal time machine? 

  1. Point your PTM at one of your areas of interest (e.g., job, industry, location). 
  2. Draft your simple personal introduction and request that you will slightly modify in Step Four to address your specific target. 
  3. Identify your target contact using LinkedIn, friends, colleagues, and all those good contacts you have been developing over time. 
  4. Customize your simple introduction to fit your target contact’s job responsibilities and your interests, the connection you have with them, and timing of when you can meet with them face-to-face.  Your meeting is to learn what their job entails and the career pathway decisions they made to reach their current position – you are not leading with your resume or asking for a job.
  5. Contact them via telephone (likely leave a voice mail message) and email message.  This may take a few rounds to get their attention. 
  6. Prepare for the meeting. 
  7. Get to the meeting on time!

Take Action and Move Forward

Sure, you can eschew the effort necessary to target, chase job postings and hear nothing after you apply. You can experience the anxiety of not knowing whether you need to work experience to fill the gap before applying again, or whether or not you are qualified, and you should keep trying.

Were you to use your Personal Time Machine while in school, then by the time you graduate, you will have a backlog of interest from companies that recognize you as having the drive and distinction, and you know where you will be a good fit.

You can discover what positions you want to target, what environmental elements to seek out or avoid.  You identify gaps in your experience that help you shape your next step.  You stumble early with how to express yourself and then when it’s interview time, you are polished, knowledgeable, and have a senior manager pulling for you.

The very act of reaching out and taking the initiative will mark you as one of the few individuals who demonstrate drive and distinction to set up such a meeting.  They will now be emotionally connected to you – interested in your career progress – and available as an advisor or sounding board.

These future selves will arm you with the preparation you need when you do identify a job position that you want to pursue. They also could likely be a reference and help your application get across the precarious chasm from submitted to interviewed.  Some of this help will be explicit; some will be your own weaving of the experiences and stories you collect.

I say, climb into your Personal Time Machine and be on the fastest path to finding the career fit and your next job. 

About David Telleen-Lawton, MTM Career Development Manager, UC Santa Barbara 

David works with Master of Technology Management (MTM) students to help them find a great fit with their next work situation after graduation. He develops and maintains relationships with California and national companies that are interested in hiring early-career leaders with the qualifications, education, and experience the MTM degree represents. He spends much of his time speaking with recruiters and hiring managers within companies MTM students want to work. To contact David, please email him at Click here to show mail address.


--The Master of Technology Management (MTM) program at UC Santa Barbara is designed to catapult engineers and scientists into leadership positions — within both startups and established companies. This 9-month, intensive program is designed to teach the frameworks, skills, and techniques you need to be a successful technology manager. No fluff, no filler.  The MTM degree will get you further, faster. To learn more about the MTM program, visit our website.