Life After
Your MBA
The Ultimate Guide to Job Searching, Impressing Recruiters, and Networking

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.

MBA Concentrations to Career Map

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.

Economics

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.

  • Senior Financial Analyst
    Median Salary: $75,184
    Projected Job Growth: 12%
  • Economist
    Median Salary: $95,710
    Projected Job Growth: 6%
Entrepreneurship

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.

  • Chief Executive
    Median Salary: $173,320
    Projected Job Growth: 6%
  • Marketing Director
    Median Salary: $96,720
    Projected Job Growth: 9%
Environmental Management

With an MBA in Environmental Management, graduates are prepared to assume leadership positions, helping companies set their environmental strategy and implement sustainable business practices.

  • Architectural Engineering Manager
    Median Salary: $130,620
    Projected Job Growth: 2%
  • Environmental Program Manager
    Median Salary: $120,050
    Projected Job Growth: 7%
Executive

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.

  • Postsecondary Education Administrator
    Median Salary: $88,390
    Projected Job Growth: 9%
  • Instructional Director
    Median Salary: $61,550
    Projected Job Growth: 7%
Health Care

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.

  • Health Information Systems Manager
    Median Salary: $113,510
    Projected Job Growth: 14%
  • Hospital Administrator
    Median Salary: $92,810
    Projected Job Growth: 17%
Human Resources

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.

  • Human Resource Manager
    Median Salary: $102,780
    Projected Job Growth: 9%
  • Compensation Manager
    Median Salary: $108,070
    Projected Job Growth: 6%
Information Technology

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.

  • Information Systems Manager
    Median Salary: $127,640
    Projected Job Growth: 9%
  • Information Security Analyst
    Median Salary: $88,890
    Projected Job Growth: 18%
International Business

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.

  • International Marketing Manager
    Median Salary: $67,020
    Projected Job Growth: 12%
  • Transportation Manager
    Median Salary: $85,400
    Projected Job Growth: 8%
Marketing

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.

  • Marketing Manager
    Median Salary: $127,130
    Projected Job Growth: 9%
  • Market Research Analyst
    Median Salary: $61,290
    Projected Job Growth: 19%
Master of Business Administration

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.

  • Director of Staff Development
    Median Salary: $101,930
    Projected Job Growth: 7%
  • Personal Finance Advisor
    Median Salary: $81,060
    Projected Job Growth: 30%
Project Management

Project Management MBA graduates drive the development of products and projects across different industries, with a particular demand in information technology and software development.

  • Administrative Services Manager
    Median Salary: $83,790
    Projected Job Growth: 8%
  • Management Analyst
    Median Salary: $80,880
    Projected Job Growth: 14%
Public Administration

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.

  • International Affairs Director
    Median Salary: $104,920
    Projected Job Growth: NA
  • Director of Operations
    Median Salary: $83,790
    Projected Job Growth: 8%
Tech

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.

  • Computer Systems Analyst
    Median Salary: $82,710
    Projected Job Growth: 21%
  • Management Information Systems Director
    Median Salary: $127,640
    Projected Job Growth: 15%

Start Early: A Timeline for MBA Success

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.

First Semester

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.

Second Semester

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.

Third Semester

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.

Fourth Semester

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.

An MBA Resume Checklist

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.

  • Tip #1: Keep it to one page

    Recruiters and employers may review hundreds of applications for a position and typically don’t have time to navigate through multiple-page resumes.

  • Tip #2: Use whitespace to your advantage

    Don’t clutter the resume with too much information. Whitespace can be used to increase the readability of a resume.

  • Tip #3: Use hierarchies and formatting

    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
    • Determined the parameters for testing, including performance and scalability
    • Created and implemented project plans to track testing progress against expected outcomes
  • Tip #4: List accomplishments, not duties

    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:
    • Recruited and trained a staff of 11 employees
    • Launched new marketing campaign that increased company sales by 10% year-over-year
  • Tip #5: Demonstrate your worth

    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.

  • Tip #6: Use strong action verbs

    Strong, compelling language can catch the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s attention. Translate success into action.

    Example:
    • Instead of saying “Lead a Project,” use terms such as “Chaired” or “Orchestrated”
    • Instead of saying “Saved the Company Money,” use terms such as “Conserved” or “Yielded”
  • Tip #7: Use numbers whenever possible

    When discussing accomplishments or successes, qualify those successes with percentages or dollar amounts when possible.

    Example:
    • Launched time management system that yielded $2 million dollar per-year savings
    • Implemented new time management system that generated operational efficiency increases of 10% in the last quarter
  • Tip #8: Write a specific job objective

    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:
    • “A complex and challenging executive-level position that allows me to leverage my broad professional experience in marketing and analytics in software development.”
  • Tip #9: Reveal your character

    Use the “Interests” section of your resume to briefly show the hiring manager who you are outside of the workplace.

    Example:
    • Volunteer at Boys and Girls Club for the past 12 years
    • Big Brother-Big Sister Mentor for seven years
  • Tip #10: Start the “Education” section with your highest degree

    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:
    • Master of Business Administration GPA: 3.97 May 2016
    • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon

The Perfect Fit: Finding the Right Company

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.

Industry Leaders
  • Is the company known for being innovative and taking smart risks?
  • Does the executive team have a reputation for being on the forefront of new ideas and industry advancement?
  • Do leaders within the company make themselves available to new hires and provide mentorship opportunities?
  • Does the organization have a good public relations system to celebrate accomplishments of their employees?
Geographic Location
  • Do you prefer to be in an urban or rural area?
  • How important is it to be close to friends, family or a significant other?
  • When picturing your first place after competing an MBA, is it a 500-square foot Midtown apartment or a house with a yard?
  • How do you want to spend your time after work? Is it hiking in nature or attending museum openings?
Size
  • Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?
  • How important is it to have access to decision makers within the company?
  • Do you prefer the energy of a start-up atmosphere or the security of a stable venture?
  • Will it be possible to make valuable contributions in a company of this size and is that important?
Culture
  • What are your values, and are the values of this company in line with those?
  • Does the company encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance?
  • Do other employees seem happy and motivated by the company culture?
  • Is the work environment conducive to how you work best?

Standing Out: Impressing MBA Recruiters

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.

  • Understand the mission

    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.

  • Complete the puzzle

    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.

  • Present a win

    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.

  • Tailor yourself

    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.

  • Demonstrate your work ethic

    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.

  • Stay on message

    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.

  • Ask 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.

  • Learn from those who have gone before you

    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.

  • Say what you want

    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.

Get Connected: Networking

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.

Alumni Associations

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Alumni Association

The MBA alumni network at GU provides an ambassador program, advisory council and career services center.

Harvard Business School Alumni Association

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.

UCLA Anderson School of Management Alumni Association

The MBA alumni association often invites alumni to campus to share their experiences and some even provide internships for current students.

Career Fairs

National Association of Women MBAs

As part of their annual conference, the NAWMBA hosts a career fair for talented female MBA students.

National Black MBA Association Inc

The NBMBAA hosts regular virtual career fairs for student members, allowing them to meet with recruiters across the country.

University of Miami MBA campus career fairs

UM provides an example of the type of on-campus career fairs available to students enrolled in MBA programs.

Location-Focused

Rotary

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.

Young Nonprofit Professionals Association

With chapters spanning across the nation, recent MBA graduates hoping to put their educations to work in the nonprofit sector often join YNPA.

The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc.

With a focus on civic leadership and community impact, Junior Leagues help women become strong leaders through volunteer opportunities.

Professional

Finance

Commercial Finance Association

CFA serves individuals working in asset-based lending and factoring, offering local chapters, publications and continuing education opportunities.

European Finance Association

Finance professionals working in the global economy benefit from membership with the EFA, which draws together both academics and practitioners.

The American Finance Association

As the publisher of The Journal of Finance, AFA is a venerable organization in the financial industry.

Marketing

American Marketing Association

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.

Business Marketing Association

With chapters throughout the country, BMA members attend events and networking opportunities to learn about business marketing.

Direct Marketing Association

Members benefit from DMA’s training programs, events, advocacy efforts, and networking opportunities.

International Business

Business Network International

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.

International Business Innovation Association

Whether hosting international conferences or offering certification programs, InBIA exists to promote innovation in business on a global scale.

International Chamber of Commerce

The ICC provides members with regular networking events, international advocacy, and global influence.

Operations Management

American Production and Inventory Control Society

With more than 43,000 members in over 100 countries, APICS is a leading membership association for MBAs working in operations management.

European Operations Management Association

For operations management professionals working in the global market, EOMA provides access to EU countries.

Production and Operations Management Society

POMS provides members access to the POM journal, regular conferences, educational opportunities, and numerous local chapters.

Leadership

American Management Association

AMA members can access a range of benefits, including podcasts, webinars, white papers, online training, local chapters, and regular events.

International Leadership Association

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.

US Business Leadership Network

This nonprofit organization currently counts more than 5,000 businesses as members, with nearly 50 affiliates across the country.

Strategy

Association for Strategic Planning

ASP is the leading professional organization for those working in strategy. The organization has 17 chapters in both the U.S. and further afield.

Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals

ASAP members take advantage of a strategic planning certification, regular events, publications, and a job board via 13 chapters representing four continents.

Strategic Planning Society

For strategic planners working internationally, this UK-based organization offers webinars, events and a magazine.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs’ Organization

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.

Female Entrepreneur Association

FEA exists to empower female entrepreneurs by providing training, mentorship, and regular events organized by local chapters.

United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship

USASBE is the largest professional organization in the world devoted to furthering the field of entrepreneurship.

MBA Graduate Talks Jobs, Transferable Skills, Advice

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.

Interviewwith Ryan Walker

What was your job search like after finishing your MBA program?

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.

How have you benefited from earning an MBA?

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.

What did you learn in your MBA program or what courses were transferable to real-life situations in the workplace?

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.

What advice do you have for a current MBA student to help them prepare for their post-education transition into the workplace?

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.