Margaret Jones: Coaching Graduate Students to Career Success

Margaret Jones smiles while posing for a photo

Ask Margaret Jones, senior associate director of Babson College’s Graduate Center for Career Development (CCD), about her popularity among graduate students, and she likely will demur, crediting her co-workers for also creating close relationships with the students, some so strong that they have been invited to student graduations, weddings, and baptisms.

Ask students and alumni, however, and many will name Jones specifically for her transformative touch.

“She helped me begin to see my skills as an educator and activist as transferable into the world of business,” JerDrema Virginia Flynt M.Ed., MBA’22 said in a recent survey. “She patiently waited as I expressed my thoughts. She provided me with new vocabulary and introduced me to other alumni who could talk to me about their job history and pathway. She coached me. She created doors and windows for me to walk through and look out of to see myself in different lights and chisel out different lanes for myself.”

Sukreet Singh MBA’22 thanked Jones for being “nothing short of a mentor to me, and a gem of a human being.”

The CCD is clearly doing something right, according to data from the Babson MBA Class of 2022. Babson’s latest MBA graduates earn an average U.S.-based salary of $116,935.

As Babson’s 2023 Commencement approaches, Jones talked about helping graduate students market and brand themselves—a role that she loves “even more now than when I started, and I loved it from the beginning.”

The Q&A

Why do you think students respond so passionately to Babson’s Grad CCD?

“One thing that, I believe, sets Grad CCD apart from other institutions is that we are very high touch, and we don’t try to treat everybody the same when it comes to a job search. Everybody has different needs and comes to the table with different strengths.”

You’ve clearly made an impression on students. Were you surprised when you saw their comments?

“I was blown away. I worked so closely with these students, but it still took me by surprise in a very positive way. It’s overwhelming, and I feel so honored, but I have to say that I have a great team to work with.”

Can you share one of your favorite experiences on the job?

“One of my favorite stories is about a student who graduated in 2015. He and I still keep in very close touch. I’ll never forget it: I was working late one night, and he stopped by my office to show me an engagement ring he’d just purchased for his girlfriend, who is now his wife. He hadn’t shown it to anyone else, not even his parents, and he was so excited. My husband and I both attended the wedding, and it was wonderful.”

“We are very high touch, and we don’t try to treat everybody the same when it comes to a job search. Everybody has different needs and comes to the table with different strengths.”
Margaret Jones, senior associate director of the Graduate Center for Career Development

What’s a key piece of advice for recent graduates looking for a job?

“We stress the importance of networking and staying open minded about what kind of job you want. When networking, even if you don’t get a job referral, you can still walk away having learned something valuable about different job functions. While it’s nice to have a focus, if you stay flexible you might learn about a position that would be a better fit.”

What’s one of the biggest mistakes graduate students make when shifting careers?

“Many students don’t understand the value that they actually have. They sometimes think because their experience is in another industry or job function, that they’ll have to start in an entry-level role. The experience they gained, even if it’s in another area, still provided valuable skills that can transition into a new career. They have to learn how to articulate that value.”

Two More for Margaret

What does Babson mean to you?

“To me, Babson is so much more than just my place of employment. It is where I collaborate, learn from, and have fun with the most amazing colleagues; engage with interesting and dedicated students from around the globe; and enjoy new and inspirational insights on a regular basis.”

Right now, what are you …

  • Reading? “I just finished Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and am now starting The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.”
  • Watching? “I am not a big TV watcher, but did indulge in ‘Yellowstone’ during the pandemic and loved it! While flying overseas earlier this month I watched the prequels ‘1923’ and the first few episodes of ‘1883,’ so I am definitely interested in finishing ‘1883.’ ”
  • Listening to? “I enjoy various types of music, but I most frequently listen to country music.”
  • Doing in your free time? “Spending time with our grandsons. Almost anything outdoors—walking, biking, kayaking, golfing, going to the beach, and recently started playing pickleball!”

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