Much of the conversation regarding the MBA centers around its value for career-switchers. Yet, the fact that many applicants pursue the degree to advance within their current field often gets overlooked. Your career after an MBA can really take off as you grow within your industry. Let’s explore why that’s true.
Q: If your reason for applying to business school is to move up within your profession rather than switch occupations, how can an MBA help you achieve that goal?
The MBA degree offers better professional opportunities, even within the same industry or employer. Often, MBA graduates secure a more rigorous role and title and a higher salary after business school.
Examples could include moving from a middle-office position pre-MBA (from corporate finance, treasury, or risk) to a strategy position post-MBA. The professional role, job title, responsibilities, and impact all improve significantly once the person holds an MBA degree.
In addition, the MBA is often a requirement for consideration for higher-level employment positions within top employers. We often see clients move to “front of the house” roles after their MBA education from a “back or middle of the house” position pre-MBA. Type of career path, pace of promotions, and visibility by senior management all improve for professionals with a top-ranked MBA.
There will inevitably be multiple students from any given industry within the MBA program. Therefore, networking among like-minded, high-performing peers is another benefit for students looking to move up within their profession. Additionally, students benefit from learning from professors whose cutting-edge research and subject matter expertise synergize with the student’s career path.
A recent SBC client got into Stanford’s MBA program and had these thoughts about the value of the MBA.
“I think I am just most drawn to the personal development I’ll get out of the degree. As with many type-A students and high-achievers, we never stop to evaluate the reason why we work so hard. The MBA program will be a great time to reflect on my sense of purpose and motivation for why I do things. Hopefully, that will also help me refine longer-term career goals.”
Career After an MBA
Q: What aspects of an MBA are most valuable to career enhancers?
We interviewed several corporate recruiters in recent months to answer this question. The resounding feedback we received was that top employers rely on MBA holders for their analytical, evidence-based training. Also, recruiters appreciated the MBA grad’s ability to make informed business decisions amid uncertainty using proven tools, frameworks, and models.
Uncertainty and change were the prevailing business realities throughout the pandemic months. For that reason, top employers will seek MBA grads to create sound predictions and recommendations within this new normal ahead. The analytical, adaptable, and innovative mindset are the benefits of the MBA education for all its students.
Q: What should someone look for in a b-school if their goal is to get promoted at their current company or secure a higher-level job with a similar firm?
Not all business schools afford the same value for every student. Similarly, what an applicant should prioritize in a b-school varies. Applicants should decide what areas in their professional or academic background they hope to enhance through their business school experience.
Next, they need to research and determine which programs will deliver optimally for their long-term needs and aspirations. For example, an applicant who comes from a purely liberal arts academic foundation and wants to move into a finance position within his or her employer would prioritize an MBA program strong in finance.
On the other hand, an applicant who wants to transfer to an international office within their company may want to get an MBA abroad to build a global network.
Our advice: Think carefully about where you plan to be long-term. Consider each program’s reputation and network, both now and where you believe it will be in 10 or 20 years.
Q: What advice would you give to prospective MBA students hoping to use business school to rise within their field?
Find mentors within your career path and set goals around your career trajectory based on informational meetings, networking, and constant diligence and evaluation.
Second, stay at the forefront of industry developments. That way, you can continually assess the value of an MBA degree to fuel your short and long-term professional aspirations. “With our clients, we really dig into actual career goals in deciding which MBA program applications are worth pursuing,” shares Caryn Altman, a Senior Consultant on the SBC team.
“We do an in-depth discussion of post-b-school location preference, as that can be a huge factor. We counsel our clients to network with those who have an MBA in the chosen field. That way, they can frame not only short-term career placement but also longer-term career trajectory and the importance of a particular MBA program in their successes. Also, we encourage clients to engage with current MBA students to define the MBA’s value for their needs further.”
My Career after an MBA
Former SBC consultant Sara Cherlin Diniz, a mid-career professional who holds an MBA degree from HBS, had this to say about the value of her MBA.
The brand name credentialing, the life-long career support resources, and the extensive alumni network were instrumental in enabling me…along my career trajectory.
“I am certain that the course of my professional advancement would have been different without these priceless benefits,” Diniz says.