Thanks to a wide range of available MBA opportunities, those who dare face the challenge of the degree get to achieve their ultimate career goals, reach professional and personal highs, or look for new horizons.
A defined career goal and a plan to achieve it is a must for MBA students. Business schools want to know why you want to pursue an MBA degree and how their programme will help you achieve your goals. What will be the real value of the degree to your personal and professional growth? To put it simply – what motivates you?
Be the change you want
The motivations that drive a student to consider an MBA can be vastly different. “After programme quality and reputation, career outcomes rank as the second most important factor in determining which business school a candidate will choose to attend, ahead of other factors such as costs, specific programme aspects, curriculum, school culture, and class profile. The importance of career outcomes in a prospect’s application decision has only increased over time,” according to the 2017 GMAC Prospective Student Survey.
Read: Why Do an MBA?
Though prospective students may enter business school with an idea about the industries and job functions they plan to pursue after completing their degree, most of them – 85% – perceive graduate business education as an opportunity to actively explore what they want to do with their future careers.
For Eva Bartok, INSEAD (France) MBA 2018 class, the MBA is a means to upgrade the knowledge needed for her current jobs as a consultant. “Working at McKinsey as a consultant in the Operations Practice unit has been a great experience but, with my engineering background, I felt that I lacked some broader business knowledge. I knew there was more I could learn about leadership and people management. Additionally, I wanted to live abroad and explore other cultures,” she says.
Her plans after the MBA are to go back to her current job but with a wider set of business skills. “After my MBA, I am going back to my job. I have a true passion for operations, and my role allows me to work on a range of topics, in different industries and countries. […] I have yet to discover another job that offers me the same growth opportunities and the extent of flexibility as well as professional and personal development,” she adds.
Eva’s case is just one of the possible scenarios for career development after an MBA. Staying in the same industry, often at a higher post or in a different role, is just one of the paths the MBA offers. Changing industry and starting a personal business venture are the other two most common paths.
Nearly two in five alumni (39%) are currently working in an industry they never considered before business school and most are satisfied in their roles, the GMAC survey shows. In addition to job functions and industries of interest, prospective students typically have one of three career paths in mind for their postgraduate employment: enhance their existing career (38%), switch careers (38%), or start a business (25%).
Prospective students who plan to remain with their current employer tend to have different motivations for pursuing a business degree than other aspirants. They seek ways to take their careers to the next level without making major career shifts. Thus, they are more likely to be seeking salary raises, promotions, and career acceleration.
Learn, teach and grow
MBA students are usually expected to have several years’ work experience before embarking on the study. Business schools usually require at least two or three years of full-time work, but often the actual average work experience in the MBA classroom is higher.
Prior professional experience, in addition to a university degree, is a key requirement across MBA programmes and for a good reason. First, the MBA teaching methodology aims to enable participants to use their own knowledge and skill set as a stepping stone for mastering the managerial toolbox and academic disciplines. Second, the diversity of knowledge, lessons learned, and challenges of MBA students creates an unparalleled peer learning environment in the MBA classroom.
Heading to an MBA programme requires an awareness of one’s portfolio and potential contribution to the learning environment, in addition to having a clear idea of the desired takeaways.
Make a difference
In recent years, the question of whether having an MBA is key to career success has been revisited. Some believe that on-the-job training is enough and the MBA is not a must. Others point to the various ways the degree helps business professionals thrive. Usual highly praised takeaways from the MBA experience are building business partnerships and a support network, career growth, and remuneration boost.
One of the best features of the MBA degree is that it will help you build a network of lifetime connections upon which you can rely for every aspect of business. The relationships created with classmates, faculty members, guest speakers, and others are a prized lifelong asset. Having a wide net of business contacts is just as important as your skills and expertise.
In all cases, the MBA puts a permanent gold star on your CV/resume. It is an internationally recognised degree, well-established in developing skills for successful careers in business and management. It offers an opportunity to deepen knowledge and expertise, providing an overview of all the main aspects of business management and a perfect balance in mastering hard and soft skills. The MBA is a career accelerator in your current or desired new role or industry, but also in helping you establish your own business venture.
According to the 2017 Forbes Best Business Schools ranking, which is a biennial ranking solely based on the median five-year MBA gain achieved by graduates, the average five-year gain at the top 25 schools in the US was USD 70,100 – USD 8,400 more than two years ago – while outside of the US the average five-year MBA gain for the top nine two-year programmes is USD 73,400 – up 9% from 2015.
The MBA is the opportunity for a desired transformation. It can take you to storm your current industry or business sector, switch to new ones, or launch your own business venture. The MBA equips you with all the tools you need for any of the scenarios. The MBA gives you choice.
This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2018-2019 annual Access MBA, EMBA, and Masters Guide under the title “You Will Reap What You Sow”. The latest online version of the Guide is available here.