Earning an MBA can open doors to employment opportunities in nearly every sector, from finance to logistics. Yet, landing a job after graduation is not a foregone conclusion. Before completing their program, students should be sure to align their academic curriculum to their future career interests. The following guide discusses career paths for MBAs, includes an interview with a recent MBA graduate who secured employment, and offers resume tips to help maximize the chances of landing a job upon graduation.
Flexibility is one of the major benefits of the Master of Business Administration degree. The broad business curriculum, coupled with specializations in areas such as entrepreneurship, marketing, or finance, allow students to develop skill sets applicable across industries. Once the diploma is in hand, keep an eye out for the following potential career paths, salaries and job growth for related occupations.
The MBA in Economics combines the study of economic theory with broader, practical business management concepts. Graduates develop a skill set that is broadly applicable across industries, from finance to real estate, international business to government.
With the MBA Entrepreneurship degree, graduates are prepared to handle the challenges of launching, growing, or leading a business. Well-versed in business leadership, entrepreneurs understand finance and how to secure venture capital, evaluate and negotiate contracts, manage operations, establish marketing visions, and communicate in leadership positions.
With an MBA in Environmental Management, graduates are prepared to assume leadership positions, helping companies set their environmental strategy and implement sustainable business practices.
For the mid-level working professional, the Executive MBA degree provides them with new skills to navigate and manage the complex dynamics of a growingly competitive—and global—marketplace.
An MBA in Health Care prepares graduates to become business leaders, responsible for shaping the future of health care. They leverage expertise in organizational performance, team management, and operations, they work to improve the quality of patient care services.
An MBA Human Resources degree provides graduates with an in-depth understanding of human resources systems and its components, from recruitment to hiring, HRIS systems to compensation.
Individuals with MBA Information Technology degree are strategic thinkers, individuals who combine their technical skills with business acumen to solve the evolving IT needs of an organization.
An MBA International Business degree allows graduates to apply their knowledge of and skills in international marketing and finance across a spectrum of industry—from finance to software development. Trained on trade, business, and management across cultures, MBA graduates work with multinational corporations and deal with international suppliers and clients.
Professionals with an MBA Marketing can pursue executive careers in a variety of employment sectors. With advanced knowledge of consumer behavior, individuals in the field devise and implement corporate marketing strategies, whether online or in retail.
With a Master of Business Administration degree, graduates possess core business knowledge and leadership skills that allow them to deal with complex managerial issues in executive positions.
Project Management MBA graduates drive the development of products and projects across different industries, with a particular demand in information technology and software development.
With a keen knowledge of intergovernmental relations, individuals with an MBA Public Administration degree serve in organizational leadership positions at the local, state, and federal level. Working in diverse areas, they use their advanced knowledge on administrative law, personnel and human resources to initiate government and community initiatives.
The MBA Tech degree provides graduates with progressive knowledge of how technology impacts the global economy in different markets, such as aerospace, information technology, manufacturing, biotechnology, and finance.
In the midst of learning schedules and navigating campus, first-year MBAs must also begin thinking about jobs. Recruitment and networking events start during the first semester, meaning students who begin at full speed have the best chance of being hired by one of their top choices. Use the timeline below to plot a plan.
Come prepared. Many MBA departments provide resume guidelines on the school’s website to help students revise existing CVs according to a set template. Arrive to campus with your current resume ready to be reviewed by a career counselor.
Get focused. Professors often invite speakers from varied industries to speak in class during the first semester, allowing students to explore potential paths and narrow their areas of interest. Use these lectures – and your own research – to think through how goals and interests align to career options. Ask lots of questions about the ins and outs of different roles and sectors.
Resume, round two. After receiving feedback on the initial resume, take those notes and make changes before resubmitting the file to the career department. Some MBA programs produce books containing resumes of current students that are made available to companies looking to hire MBA students. It’s vital for students to meet the deadline for these publications, so start early.
Network, network, network. Recruiters begin visiting campus around October, with networking events extending until the end of the first semester. Students should use these opportunities wisely and meet as many current staff and recruiters as possible. Even if a company doesn’t sound interesting at first, it’s worth discussing available roles and company culture with visiting organizations.
Apply. After researching companies and meeting recruiters, it’s time to hit the ground running. Many internships require individualization beyond sending a cover letter and resume. Work closely with a career counselor to create applications that will grab a recruiter’s attention.
Put it on the line. Interviews for internships can take place between the beginning and end of the semester, depending on the company. Those that visited campus often conduct interviews at the school, while any companies found outside school networking events may require an off-campus interview. Use this time to showcase skills and present a clear vision for the future.
Don’t panic. Not everyone finds a job by their third semester in an MBA program. If you’re one of them, try not to worry. There are plenty of resources available to help you find the right job.
Social Networking. Many employers post jobs on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. In addition, experts suggest making announcements on the appropriate website to let your key contacts know you’re searching. Be specific in your request, “I’m looking for a financial analyst position” instead of “I’m looking for a finance position.”
Direct Networking. Don’t be shy about reaching out to friends, colleagues or former classmates to see if they know about open positions. If they don’t, they may be able to refer you to their contacts who might.
Consider the options. Jobs at large companies are great. However, if those companies are done hiring, plenty of other options are still available.
Entry-Level Positions. When undergraduates go straight into an MBA program without gaining professional experience, it can be difficult to land a high level position in a company. Entry level positions offer hands-on experience with the opportunity for growth. This doesn’t mean working as a receptionist. Examples of entry-level MBA positions include financial analysts, actuaries, and pharmaceutical representatives.
Government Jobs. All government agencies need people with a management background, especially administration, budgeting, finance and accounting. Look at jobs with the local, state, and federal governments.
The most successful resume, says Walker, are easy to read, concise and descriptive. “Recruiters,” he notes, “generally scan resumes for 30 seconds, look at positions, companies, and education—and then finally dig deeper into your most recent position.” The ten tips below can be used to craft a compelling case to recruiters and hiring managers that your MBA and professional experience make you a competitive candidate.
Recruiters and employers may review hundreds of applications for a position and typically don’t have time to navigate through multiple-page resumes.
Don’t clutter the resume with too much information. Whitespace can be used to increase the readability of a resume.
Along with Tip #2, using subheads and bullets, along with formatting (bold and underlined), presents information clearly, cleanly, and succinctly.Example: Established A/B testing procedures for email marketing deliveries
To stand out, candidates should demonstrate how their professional experience benefited their previous employers. This information is used to determine the potential success of the candidate in the new position.Example:
The resume should be tailored to the role and responsibilities of the job posting. Throughout the resume, candidates should focus on showing how their job skills relate to the position they are seeking.
Strong, compelling language can catch the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s attention. Translate success into action.Example:
When discussing accomplishments or successes, qualify those successes with percentages or dollar amounts when possible.Example:
Candidates often include a vague objective, such as “Seeking a challenging, yet rewarding position that offers personal and professional growth opportunities.” Instead, focus on writing an objective that combines the needs of the employer with what you’re seeking.Example:
Use the “Interests” section of your resume to briefly show the hiring manager who you are outside of the workplace.Example:
Don’t leave the MBA at the bottom of your education section. If not completed, include the date you will receive it—and if relevant—indicate any noteworthy coursework that is related to the job posting.Example:
Although it may be tempting to jump at the first job opportunity presenting itself, it’s also important to remember how much time will be spent at work. Before accepting any position – no matter how great it sounds – consider the questions below to ensure the role is matched to specific personal and professional needs.
As the old adage goes, you’ve got one chance to make a first impression. Recruiters interview countless qualified candidates during the hiring season, making it imperative to stand out – in a good way. Use the following list to make a favorable and lasting impression in the interview chair.
Why would a company want to hire you if you can’t clearly convey why they exist in the first place? Especially for roles with client interfacing, a candidate who can’t verbalize the mission succinctly will be dropped to the bottom of the list.
How do you fit in with the company? Demonstrating your value to a recruiter shows that much thought has gone into self-analyzing and understanding the organization – both of which are impressive to recruiters.
How can you help them get a leg over on the competition? By showing that you’ve thought about both the company and their competitors, recruiters see your ability to take a holistic view of the field.
While it’s important to show up looking your best, this tip isn’t referring to that kind of tailoring. As with individualized cover letters, make sure the answers you provide in interviews show thoughtfulness about a specific company. It’s easy to start rattling off prepared answers to common questions after a few interviews, but these rehearsed responses can seem generic to recruiters, who are looking for answers tailored to their company.
How can you prove you’ll be a motivated and engaging employee while still in school? Extracurricular activities. Whether taking part in an MBA special-interest club or volunteering outside of school, these accomplishments show recruiters that you’ll be an energetic employee.
What’s your story? Interviewees who present a clear and cohesive image of themselves weave a story, making them seem memorable and put together. Whether you want to be known as a go-getter, a thoughtful researcher, or someone who is passionate about startups, keep this identity in the forefront as you craft answers to interview questions.
How can you make the interview more than a one-way interaction? Recruiters don’t want to be the only one asking questions. Most importantly, remember not to ask any question whose answer could be found through researching the company. Asking a basic question shows you haven’t done your homework, while a thoughtful query can show depth of interest.
Who understands the interview process better than you? Aside from career counselors, one of the best assets an applicant can take advantage of is a gainfully employed recent graduate. Having recently gone through the process, these professionals have fresh insights on what it takes to get hired.
How will a company know you’ll fight for them if you don’t fight for yourself? Although it may seem bold, one of the strongest things an applicant can do is convey that they want the job. While it’s important to avoid a tone that says you’re desperate, showing confidence in knowing what you want sends a clear signal.
One of the most important components of success when it comes to landing a job is who you know. Networking is vitally important for students, but while still in school and after they graduate. The following associations provide opportunities to meet leaders in the field.
The MBA alumni network at GU provides an ambassador program, advisory council and career services center.
The HBS alumni organization provides a range of services to its 82,331 alumni, including an online community, reunions, class notes, events, and a career board.
The MBA alumni association often invites alumni to campus to share their experiences and some even provide internships for current students.
As part of their annual conference, the NAWMBA hosts a career fair for talented female MBA students.
The NBMBAA hosts regular virtual career fairs for student members, allowing them to meet with recruiters across the country.
UM provides an example of the type of on-campus career fairs available to students enrolled in MBA programs.
Although the rotary club has more than 1.2 million members, the goal of the organization is to build positive communities by developing leaders to create change.
With chapters spanning across the nation, recent MBA graduates hoping to put their educations to work in the nonprofit sector often join YNPA.
With a focus on civic leadership and community impact, Junior Leagues help women become strong leaders through volunteer opportunities.
CFA serves individuals working in asset-based lending and factoring, offering local chapters, publications and continuing education opportunities.
Finance professionals working in the global economy benefit from membership with the EFA, which draws together both academics and practitioners.
As the publisher of The Journal of Finance, AFA is a venerable organization in the financial industry.
The AMA is the preeminent membership organization for marketers today. More than 100 chapters give members access to a host of resources and special events.
With chapters throughout the country, BMA members attend events and networking opportunities to learn about business marketing.
Members benefit from DMA’s training programs, events, advocacy efforts, and networking opportunities.
As the world’s largest referral organization, BNI has more than 185,000 members based in over 60 countries. The association has more than 3,700 chapters in the United States.
Whether hosting international conferences or offering certification programs, InBIA exists to promote innovation in business on a global scale.
The ICC provides members with regular networking events, international advocacy, and global influence.
With more than 43,000 members in over 100 countries, APICS is a leading membership association for MBAs working in operations management.
For operations management professionals working in the global market, EOMA provides access to EU countries.
POMS provides members access to the POM journal, regular conferences, educational opportunities, and numerous local chapters.
AMA members can access a range of benefits, including podcasts, webinars, white papers, online training, local chapters, and regular events.
The ILA has a variety of affinity and community groups for members and also provides a leadership webinar for those looking to hone their skills.
This nonprofit organization currently counts more than 5,000 businesses as members, with nearly 50 affiliates across the country.
ASP is the leading professional organization for those working in strategy. The organization has 17 chapters in both the U.S. and further afield.
ASAP members take advantage of a strategic planning certification, regular events, publications, and a job board via 13 chapters representing four continents.
For strategic planners working internationally, this UK-based organization offers webinars, events and a magazine.
Comprised of more than 11,000 members and 153 chapters in 48 countries, EO is the only peer-to-peer network created specifically for entrepreneurs.
FEA exists to empower female entrepreneurs by providing training, mentorship, and regular events organized by local chapters.
USASBE is the largest professional organization in the world devoted to furthering the field of entrepreneurship.
In this interview, we talk with Ryan Walker, a recent graduate from the full-time MBA program at Babson College in Massachusetts. Mr. Walker shares his job search experience after graduation, what skills were transferable to his new job, and his advice for recent MBA graduates.
It’s not a ticket to a career change, as it is presented to many who consider a full-time program. I found that employers still care more about your previous experience, the MBA alone won’t get you into a new career. I had three offers and a fourth on the way before graduation, but have for the most part stayed in my previous industry.
The biggest difference is that I jumped up a few levels and am responsible for growing a new practice—a responsibility that probably would have been much harder to justify without an MBA. It also made a difference in pay as it more than doubled my salary pre- vs. post-MBA.
Although courses weren’t entirely transferrable, the business strategy is very useful. Babson’s small business focus also successfully teaches you to think about problems in a different light.
Place a lot of thought into what you want to get out of it and go in with a plan The people that benefited the most knew exactly why there were there and what they needed to get out of it. They took the classes and participated in the clubs that brought them to their end goal. The people that just wanted to do something different and take two years off are in many cases still looking for a job.