I’m unemployed but will have my MBA about half a year from now.
I have no business experience to speak of - never worked that stuff before. My entire 12-year career up to this point was spent working at a university. What are some good business-beginner jobs for someone like that?
What, if anything, did you focus on in your MBA coursework? Is it just a general business degree, or is it in marketing, finance, etc? The answer to your question will vary, depending on what your focus has been.
Similarly, what sort of business or business-like experience did you have in your university job (which, if I remember from another of your posts, was at a for-profit university)?
And, finally, what was your impetus to get an MBA, in the first place? Was it to further your career opportunities at your now-former employer?
Yes, it was a for-profit online university, but it was just administrative clerical-type work. Examining tens of thousands of transcripts and certificates.
The MBA coursework was very general and bland, no particular concentration. Boilerplate-101 stuff. Cultural issues in management, business law and ethics, human resource management, corporate finance, marketing, etc.
My original impetus to get the MBA was because my former-employer gave free tuition as a benefit for all full-time employees. So I went for 2 free master’s. First one was in military studies, second was the MBA (since the MBA seemed like one of the more hire-able degrees despite also being extremely common.) Since I am now unemployed, I have to pay the remaining few MBA courses out of pocket, but it’s not much.
My experience is largely in marketing, and so, it may not be applicable to every business, nor in every industry.
Nearly everyone I know who has an MBA went “back to school” to earn it (as you effectively did), but after several years of working in the business world. One got an MBA if one wanted to move into management. Most of the Marketing MBAs I knew had bachelors degrees in marketing (or economics, etc.), and had several years of experience in marketing-related fields like sales, customer service, etc. With an MBA, they then could move into brand management, sales management, etc.
In my particular sub-field of marketing (market research), we might hire people who only had a bachelor’s degree – some of them had a few years of experience, others were fresh out of their bachelor’s program. But, in either case, if that person wanted to further advance in the field (i.e., become a market research manager or market research director), they would be advised that they should work on an MBA.
I wish I could give you more solid advice (or better news), but in my experience, a “general” MBA alone, without any sort of business-oriented experience, probably isn’t a good guide for what you might want to pursue as your next job, and nor will it necessarily be particularly attractive to a lot of recruiters.
I see…yeah, that makes sense. I guess the benefit that having an MBA does is that it at least lets me check the “I meet the most bottom-basic requirements to apply” box on those job apps. Many jobs say “applicant must have a master’s in business admin, or marketing, or management, etc…”
So while I’m still a long shot, it at least lets me not get eliminated before even applying.
In a normal course of a student’s life, they’ll get an internship while still a student to help them get some experience and give them some idea of what working in the field is like, and this will help inform their next job search, whether they follow up on the internship or not. I did not go that route and struggled to find a place that was willing to accept someone with no actual experience in commercial tax prep or accounting, only volunteer work for low-income people which is effectively a completely different skill set. The job I finally got I might as well say was a deus ex machina that I can’t expect anyone else would ever luck into.
What your best option is at this point might be to decide on what aspect of business you want to focus on - accounting, finance, marketing, etc. and take some additional courses at a different school while trying to get an internship through that school. If they require you enroll in a program, maybe they’ll have some sort of specialized certificate program. You may need to take a job in an unrelated field to help finance doing that sort of thing, but if you get into such a program, just focus whatever you can on finding some sort of internship.
I ended up getting into accounting because I was told by the business school I was considering going to that it was the most difficult field of study they offered and I would have the best likelihood of being able to find a job. However, high-level accounting is a very specific skill set, and what you learn about accounting in a general business program is only going to be surface level. You’re not going to be able to compete with people that have full degrees in accounting. But it’s something to consider if you’re going to go into a specialization. Certainly I’ve seen plenty of accountants with MBAs as well.
@Velocity : I’m not sure if this is good advice, or not, as you’re currently unemployed, and probably not looking to throw even more money at job stuff, but I think you might benefit from talking with an outplacement consultant or a career coach. It seems like you need someone who can help you identify what sorts of jobs and companies your experience and education make you a good fit for, as well as helping you think about what you really want to do next, and at what kind of employer.
What types of jobs do people in your MBA program typically get? Is there an alumni network that helps recent graduates find jobs? What are your classmates planning to do?
These are high-paying jobs for MBAs that lead to lots of opportunities for MBAs but they tend to go to candidates from highly-selective MBA programs.
Velocity, a lot of the MBA candidates I’ve known had entrepreneurial aspirations. They started at regular jobs (mostly as management consultants of one stripe or another) to build capital, experience, credibility, and contacts that would let them start their companies later on. Do you have any desire to start a business?
No, I don’t think I could ever do any business startup (other than being a sole proprietor as a music composer, which doesn’t really need an MBA.) I’m perfectly happy to be a drone-bee worker at some big business or company.
That sounds fairly different than my MBA; we had no law/ethics sources, no HR type stuff save a course in organizational behavior, and not much about cultural issues, except for a professor who sort of diverged from the syllabus to go into that in some detail in an international business course.
The whole thing with a MBA though is that it’s sort of the generalist degree in its base courses, and you typically take a specialization that puts you about halfway to a MS in that specialization. Among my classmates, we split somewhat evenly between people who were doing whole-hog career changes and were specializing in something they were inexperienced in, but interested in, and people who already had experience in a field, and were looking to get a leg up in that field. I fell into the latter category, having already had about six years of experience in corporate IT before going back for the MBA and a MS in IT & Management.
Without that specialization, you’re kind of in a weird position, in that you’re not locked in to any particular field, but you’re not really set up for one either.
Either way though, there aren’t generally “Entry Level MBA” jobs in most companies, save maybe consulting firms. That’s the thing they don’t ever really come out and say when you’re going in. I haven’t ever seen a job looking for entry level MBA graduates that’s not just some sort of crap sales position. Generally the degree is sort of like a gatekeeping mechanism that weeds out people aiming for higher management. They like to see that people were willing to go back to school to further their career.
I would imagine your best bet would be to figure out what you actually want to do- finance, accounting, IT, operations, purchasing/supply chain/logistics, etc… and see if you can find some sort of not-quite-entry-level type job in that field. Like maybe jobs requiring 3-5 years experience, and then get there, and work your way up from there. @msmith537 points out “business analyst” as a job- that’s a great example- it’s not a straight-out-of-undergrad type job, but it doesn’t require a MBA either. But it does help to have been a BA and have a MBA when you buck for a management position of some sort, versus having only one or the other.
For consulting, there are a lot of firms that aren’t Mckinsey, Bain, and BCG who tend to only hire Ivy League candidates. The Big 4, Accenture, Cognizant and other firms (which blur into “IT outsourcing”) have hundreds of thousands of employees. They didn’t all graduate from Wharton.
But what might be more challenging than not coming from a “highly selective MBA program” is not really having the mindset or aptitude for a professional services environment. It can be very ambiguous and entrepreneurial in that you almost need to find a “job” within the firm billing for a client once you get hired. And different firms provide different levels of support helping you get staffed.