Careers for MBAs: Selecting the Right Employer |

Careers for MBAs: Selecting the Right Employer

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By Richard Zhang

Updated August 13, 2014 Updated August 13, 2014

Most applicants will apply to a particular business school with the aim of realizing long-aspired MBA career opportunities. But even for the most determined of MBA career seekers, there is a great deal of soul searching that needs to be conducted before transitioning from business education to employment.

Part of the reason that the top MBA programs are the best in their game is because they ensure that their students are given every opportunity to secure their ideal MBA career option.

Here, the fundamental requirement from students is that they make themselves available for school-organized schemes, whether they be industry internships, networking events, on-campus recruitment fairs, access to specialist portals catered to careers for MBAs, or leveraging the contacts from business school.

Utilizing contacts made at business school, plus those inherited through alumni networks, as well as their own and those of their classmates is the “name of the game” these days according to Paul Lindblad, assistant dean at the Paul Merage School of Business, UC Irvine.

That, and nurturing the soft skills needed to make new contacts during brief encounters such as those at school organized recruiter events.

“Developing your informational interviewing and networking skills which you will utilize over a lifetime is part of what you are gaining by earning your MBA,” says Lindblad.

“What you aren’t getting is your own personal executive search service. Anyone who thinks this is what business school can provide MBA students is living in a fantasy world, one that simply doesn’t exist.”

At the forefront of MBA career options

All of the top business schools have departments designed to give advice in MBA career options, such as honing networking and interviewing skills, helping organize industry internships, and placing candidates within a wide range of careers for MBAs.

“We encourage our students to thoroughly research all employment options early on in the course,” says Morea Josias, careers services at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB).

“To do so, we arrange sector networking early on in the MBA – where students can practice their networking skills by meeting alumni who are already working in the sectors they are interested in.

“We then arrange a comprehensive on campus recruitment program later on in the year, where students can listen to – and meet – recruiters face-to-face to find out more about their companies,” Josias says.

But while business schools excel in expanding the MBA career opportunities of their students before placing them in front of eager recruiters, they can’t ensure that their student’s make the right decisions for them when the time comes.

Getting Personal: Selecting Your Ideal MBA Career Opportunities

“Ask yourself - what is the future of this sector? What is the future of this business?” says Javier Muñoz, careers services director at IESE Business School.

“Speak to alumni working in that company and find out what the career path is like for an MBA student, the salary structure and the whole employment process – you want to build as complete a picture as possible.”

“Of course this takes additional time to your studies, but it is truly worth it – and this is what the careers service is here to help you with,” continues Muñoz.

On a personal level, graduates need to be realistic about their true motivators, be they lifestyle, security, financial gain, intellectual challenge, or any other goal in life.

Susan Masson, associate director of MBA career management, McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas, Austin points out that: “employers are looking for professionals who can successfully do the technical work required and who also fit with the culture of the organization.”

Therefore, to ensure the best MBA career opportunity, being honest with a potential employer could reap dividends.

Ian Christie, director of graduate career services at Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia points out that post-MBA learning can come from a role that stretches your abilities, where change and growth are present, where formal learning programs are in place and perhaps most importantly, from the right type of managers and leaders.

How to target your MBA career options

One of the best ways to target potential MBA career opportunities, Christie says, is to really get to know the field and players that you are purporting to be interested in and then at a more granular level, the company, job and key hiring decision makers.

And that means being truly interested.

“The only way to do this is to demonstrate it through actions and outcomes, not words. Read what they read. Attend what they attend. Be an insider. Not an outsider. The savvy hiring decision makers will see that fire in the belly.”

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This article was originally published in June 2013 . It was last updated in August 2014

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