This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
Business school graduates benefit not only from a solid return on investment through substantial salary increases, but also by deepening the knowledge, skills and abilities they will need for future professional success.
Here are just four of the key career benefits MBA programs can offer.
1. Transferable skills: Business school gives you new skills and knowledge that will turbocharge your career. While MBA students often set their sights on a job in finance or consulting, the hard and soft skills acquired during an MBA program are transferable to myriad other roles. Today, you’ll find an increasing number of MBAs working in tech, health care, consumer goods, government and nonprofits, and many other industries.
The skills typically strengthened during an MBA – leadership, intellectual creativity, analysis and critical thinking, cross-cultural awareness, communication, even greater IT mastery – will serve you well as you find your way toward your ultimate career goal.
You may start out at a financial firm such as Morgan Stanley and learn a tremendous amount about banking and analysis before deciding that it’s not a good fit, as happened with my client, May. She built upon those skills when she eventually became involved with running a business as a gourmet food importer. Once you have a deeper understanding of the complexities of the business world, those problem-solving skills mastered during your MBA will carry over to your next position, and the one after that, too.
2. Higher employment rates: Having an MBA is a powerful tool that can increase job security with your current employer or within your current industry. When the Graduate Management Admission Council released its latest annual poll of employers, it forecasted robust 2016 hiring that reflects high demand for MBA graduates. A whopping 96 percent of responding employers agreed that hiring business school graduates creates value for their companies.
The MBA degree is also a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Recruiters have said that some of their corporate clients will not consider any candidate without an MBA, which shows just how much business leaders value this qualification. Employers believe it vets potential hires; you can safely assume an MBA graduate from Harvard Business School or the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania is going to bring considerable skills and business acumen to the job from day one.
Without a doubt, companies appreciate managers who have risen through the ranks, know the business inside and out and can get the job done. But they also like hiring MBAs for their ability to handle complex situations, be nimble and adapt in the face of a rapidly changing global environment. As outsiders, MBA hires can provide a broad or fresh perspective to see how to improve inefficiencies or come up with innovative solutions to business problems.
3. Degree specializations: Most MBA programs offer specializations or concentrations that allow you to do a deep dive into the nuances of a particular industry. These courses provide students with an opportunity to sample a few different industries or career paths to see whether it’s a good fit before taking the plunge.
Adding a concentration to an MBA is a good move for people who know exactly what they want to do with their career and who want to build a stronger skill base in that area. If you already know that you’re interested in something really specific, such as digital marketing, real estate, business analytics, social innovation, health care and so forth, earning an MBA with a concentration can make you even more marketable.
In today’s competitive job market, listing a concentration on your resume helps you stand out. However, if you are a career switcher and still testing the waters, you would be better off focusing on a general business education instead.
4. Networking opportunities: At business school, you’ll interact closely with talented individuals from all over the globe, which enhances the experience by exposing you to different business practices, cultures and points of view.
The connections you make are, for many, the single most valuable aspect of the MBA, so make sure you capitalize on the opportunities in and out of the classroom during your MBA studies. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university as well as to countless professional opportunities you can tap into throughout your career.
While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100,000, it’s the network of contacts you build that make your MBA experience truly priceless.