A Spotlight on the Career Management Office: Jean Gekler, Senior Associate Director, MBA Career Management and Liaison for Evening MBA Career Management

Can you tell us about yourself and how you started working in the Career Management Office and with the Evening MBA Program?   

I love gardening, going to the beach, and traveling. My favorite place is Paris, where I can practice my French. I also love all kinds of sports, notably college football (go Huskies!). Personally, I love fitness–running, cycling and Barre3. My favorite time of the year is when the cherry blossoms bloom on the UW campus. I was an English major as an undergraduate student which helps me review all types of personal marketing communications for our MBA students.

Talent and leadership development has always been a theme in my own career journey. My experience has been focused on recruiting, human resources, training and leadership development, both in the private and public sectors. One of my earliest experiences was in MBA Admissions and program management before I moved to private sector roles in HR, talent acquisition, and leadership development. I transitioned back to the public sector when I was recruited to develop and launch Evening and Executive MBA career services at the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. I enjoyed that role so much that when we decided to relocate to Seattle, my first choice was to join the University of Washington, Foster School of Business, partnering with a great team to foster career outcomes for MBA candidates.

Photo of Jean Gekler, gardening

How is Career Management different for the Evening MBA Program vs other MBA programs? 

The main difference is that Evening MBAs have a choice on when and how to partner with our office. As most Evening MBAs are working full-time, their path to augmenting and progressing in their career can take on many different time frames and activities based on their goals. 

What is the biggest challenge you’ve seen students face in career management?

Pursuing an MBA is a transformative experience. All students have goals when they “arrive on campus” and they soon learn that the offerings are so limitless and rich, that the challenge becomes identifying the career outcomes and options they want to pursue, creating a plan and then executing it, while being open to tweaking their plans as they learn, develop and explore. With so many options and finite time, the limitless opportunities can be mind-boggling. 

Photo of Jean Gekler and Cherry BlossomsWhat are the most common questions you get asked from Evening MBA students? 

There are so many! 

How to navigate their MBA journey, how to partner with our team, how to make a career transition 

How do I decide what to pursue? What are some options I may not have considered? 

How to stand out, how to communicate their brand, how to tell their story in a compelling way. 

What are the expectations of an MBA Candidate?  

What do you enjoy the most about working with Evening MBA Students?

Photo of Jean Gekler and Family at UW game

The enthusiasm, the drive to excel in their career and the MBA program, typically simultaneously!  I admire their ability to juggle both as well as their personal and family life. Their resilience, commitment, talent and courage. Their appreciation and gratitude is valued by me as well as our whole team. Lastly, I learn so much from them all the time. Thank you.

 

Photo of Jean Gekler and partner in Paris

What advice would you give someone who is interested in personal development through the Evening MBA Program and seeking career development at the same time? 

Engage with our resources and our offerings as soon as possible so that you are aware of what is available. Attend events, join MBAA clubs and participate in what works for you.  MBA Career Management along with the MBA Program Office, the broader Foster School and the UW offer infinite possibilities and opportunities.

Take advantage of the career development while in the program, even if you are not changing companies or roles. Remember that everyone has different bandwidth and priorities when it comes to the time they have to devote to career aspirations, their current professional situation and the academic components of the program. Even if you cannot participate as fully as you may like, 100% of the time in your program, being aware of what is available will help you to make choices along the way to maximize your experience and will add to your development as an MBA now and in the future. The MBA enhances and multiplies your career trajectory.