The MBA is much more than a degree in Business and Management – it is an experience of personal and professional growth which gives participants the opportunity to explore a variety of nontraditional careers. Professionals who are committed to making the most of their studies are also able to introduce a major shift in their current lives. Whether it is to change their geographic focus and work location or to entirely switch industries, MBA participants have a lot to look forward to.
As Anna Kouzovleva, alumna of the MBA programme at ESCP Europe, told U.S. News & World Report that MBA studies make it entirely possible to discover a new passion that can be pursued professionally. “During some classes and projects, we became more aware of the career opportunities in social impact, innovation, tech and much more beyond the traditional choices,” highlighted Ms Kouzovleva about the diversity of career paths out there. Take a look at some of the nontraditional but equally lucrative job opportunities for today’s MBA graduates.
Government and public service
Many people argue that, at its core, working in government has a lot in common with running a business. Recent publications from the Wall Street Journal and BusinessBecause reveal that this career path has been gaining popularity for the past couple of years. For instance, the percentage of 2017 MBA graduates from Harvard Business School (US) entering government positions doubled from 2016. How do business school studies nurture and develop responsible government leaders?
According to Karen Marks, President and Founder of North Star Admissions Consulting, “[business schools] teach students to function under ambiguous circumstances, and to leverage key interpersonal skills like diplomacy and negotiations.” On a more concrete level, standard MBA courses such as Finance, Management, and Public Policy give prospective government officials an excellent starting point for a career in politics or public service.
Perhaps more than ever before, the world needs to invest and believe in the power of the non-profit sector. MBAs who dream big and are committed to a noble cause will find that working in non-profit is a challenging and rewarding experience which requires a versatile business and management skill set. In many cases, managing such organisations can prove even more demanding than taking on a traditional management role. According to Max Pulcini from MetroMBA, the strategic and analytical training acquired at business school, as well as potential knowledge of the private sector, are useful assets that any non-profit organisation could benefit from.
Although many people associate this field with low wages, this is not always the case. As Bethany Romano who pursued her MBA in Non-profit Management at Brandeis University (US) explained for HuffPost, “many universities, museums, and hospitals are non-profits, as well as huge international organisations like Oxfam, the Red Cross, and the Nature Conservancy.” As long as your goal as an MBA graduate is to make an impact beyond profit, non-profit organisations present more than favourable employment opportunities.
Most of us have already seen and read about the incredible interest in big data and analytics over the past few years. Kristen Sosulski, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business (US), recently told U.S. News & World Report that in our tech-dependent world “many companies emphasise data-driven decision-making.” Therefore, MBA professionals who are skilled at interpreting data and translating it into successful business practices are increasingly sought-after.
“[Analytic skills are] something that can really set you apart,” confirmed Tina McGlynn who studied in Emory University’s Goizueta Business School (US). “Whenever you’re up against a comparable colleague, if you have the ability to perform various types of analytics and not only do it but make the connection and say, this is the result of the analysis […] – it’s really a big differentiator when it comes to career advancement.”
According to Stephen Pidgeon, Associate Director of the Career Development Office at Tuck School of Business (US), healthcare is one of the top nontraditional career paths explored by professionals over the last couple of years. He highlighted that MBAs who work in the field are able to put their creativity and knowledge into practice in multiple ways – “from managing a hospital group to working at a company […] that’s reimagining the way that people get healthcare to joining a startup based around some exciting new science, device, or therapy.”
Needless to say, improving the healthcare system is a hot topic and a relevant issue in almost any region you could think of. It should come as no surprise then that MBA programmes in Healthcare Management are offered in Europe (MBA in International Healthcare Management at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management), in the US (the Vanderbilt Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare), and Asia (MBA specialisation in Healthcare Management at the National University of Singapore).
While the allure of the startup culture and entrepreneurship has long been discussed in the world of MBA education, establishing a new company or joining a startup is still a somewhat less traditional career path than climbing the corporate ladder. Similarly to the non-profit sector, working for a newly founded venture usually involves hectic deadlines and responsibility for many different stages of the work process. Fortunately, it seems the challenging nature of running your own business does not scare MBA graduates at all. Being an entrepreneur also goes hand-in-hand with the freedom and inspiration of working on a project that you truly believe in. As mentioned in a blog post by Ohio University (US), running or joining a startup “may be a better match for your personality and work style” than a traditional suit-and-tie kind of job.
Intrapreneurship is another career path on the rise for those who dare take the challenge of acting with an entrepreneurial mindset in a corporate environment. As Paul Coyle, Founder of Entrepreneurial Mindset Network, reported for the 2018-2019 Access MBA Guide: “There is an interesting dynamic in career preferences for the entrepreneurially minded MBA graduates. The Financial Times reports a peak of 22% of full-time MBA graduates who have started their own business within three years after graduation in 2015. However, in January 2018 the FT reported a decline to 16%. The reason: ‘Large companies have also made themselves more attractive to those with an entrepreneurial passion by offering them positions working on new business ideas.’”
Long story short, there are so many career options you could explore as an MBA graduate. Do not be afraid to go off the beaten track and look beyond the most common career choices, as long as you are able to find what inspires and motivates you.