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Gillian Mager was in the midst of updating her MBA job club members on her networking efforts last June when she broke down in tears. Like most in the support group at the University of California at San Diego’s Rady School of Management (Rady Full-Time MBA Profile), her job search had extended beyond graduation and she spent her days sending out reams of résumés, often getting no response back. Making matters worse, she learned shortly before the meeting that a promising job opportunity she’d pinned her hopes on had fallen through.

“I remember talking about it and I just started crying hysterically,” she says. “My friend just hugged me and was like, ‘You know what, everything is going to work out.’ ”

For the rest of the hourlong session, her business school classmates discussed what might have gone wrong during her job interview, critiqued her résumé, and gave her ideas on what she could do differently next time. The group’s encouragement and advice paid off; by August she landed a job as a marketing data analyst at Petco. Says Mager: “I just think if I were doing it alone, it would have been a lot harder. Having that shoulder to lean on really helped.”

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