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Don Trynor is enrolled in the executive MBA program at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto.

Swire Chin

Don Trynor is a product management executive with more than 15 years of experience managing technology-based products and services. He is enrolled in the executive MBA program at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto. This is his first submission to EMBA Diary.

Getting to the next level in your career can be a challenge, as experience sometimes is not enough in an increasingly competitive job market. One way to raise your game and improve your chances of getting to the next level is to complete a master of business administration degree from a highly-recognized university.

For me, my MBA journey started in November of 2015, when I was accepted to the executive MBA program at Rotman, which is touted as offering Canada's top-ranked MBA program. I had decided I wanted to improve myself as a leader, so I could best leverage my more than 15 years of product management experience.

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I felt that the Rotman EMBA program would be a perfect fit – the program is 13 months in duration, and I could still work full-time while going to school. In addition, the Rotman facilities are conveniently located on the University of Toronto campus, making it easy for me to attend classes, since I live in downtown Toronto.

The hardest part for me was that I needed to wait 10 months until the program started in September of 2016. A lot can change in 10 months, and during that time, change did indeed occur. In June of 2016, my employer was acquired and went through a restructuring in August – resulting in me being laid off for the first time in my 22-year career. I had always joked about how many restructurings I had been through over the course of my career. This one hit me personally, throwing me into a transitional period.

Before the EMBA program began, I started applying to positions with little success, which was not surprising, given the state of my résumé and social media profile on LinkedIn. One of the great things about the Rotman EMBA program is its preprogram sessions to help the soon-to-be student begin the process of leadership transformation. One of the most valuable sessions taught us how to perfect our LinkedIn profile and develop a highly effective résumé.

In addition to these sessions, Rotman has a fabulous career services team dedicated to assist the EMBA students every step of the way of their career journey. This includes one-on-one coaching and facilitation of regular career transition meetings with other Rotman EMBA students and alumni, where we got to practise our pitch and help one another expand our professional connections. On top of this, we learned how we could leverage the extensive Rotman MBA alumni network, which consists of more than 13,000 professionals around the globe.

Armed with all this professional advice, over the first half of the program I set out to recreate my professional image on LinkedIn, develop a better résumé and hone my interviewing and overall presentation skills.

By mid-February of this year, I could not believe the positive response I was getting to my new profile as compared to the material that I was using before. I've been getting next-day responses to job applications and multiple in-person interviews, and recruiters are finding me on LinkedIn as never before.

While I am extremely buoyed by the effectiveness of my new professional image, I haven't landed a job yet, as potential employers seem to be hesitant because of the time commitment that the EMBA program requires of me. Of course, as the program proceeds toward completion in October, this will soon become a non-issue.

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Given my success so far with getting interviews with hiring managers, I have no doubt that the degree from Rotman will bring value to my career, including helping me to secure my next big opportunity in the short term and to help my career flourish over the long term. Taking this program was one of the best decisions I have made, and I very much look forward to becoming the leader that I have always aspired to be.

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