How to Plan for Your Post-MBA Career | TopMBA.com

How to Plan for Your Post-MBA Career

By Temoor Iqbal

Updated February 2, 2021 Updated February 2, 2021

Sponsored by IE Business School

There was a time when the MBA was a specialist program that attracted a rarified set of focused managerial hopefuls, ready to make the jump into the C-suite. These days, while the quality of MBA programs is only increasing, there’s no doubt that the sheer scale of the MBA world is one of the biggest challenges facing candidates. This is not only due to the growing number of students, but also the variety of post-MBA options out there.

With people on your course talking about CEO aspirations, entrepreneurship, academia and a host of other career paths, it’s easy to feel a bit lost as to exactly where you’re going next. But that doesn’t make it any less important. If anything, the level of competition makes it more vital than ever to have a clear post-MBA plan in mind.

Plan of action

Ploughing ahead with an MBA without a plan can have several unpleasant consequences. For a start, it can take a lot longer to find a post-graduation job if you’re not sure what it is you might want to do – today’s business world rewards proactivity, and opportunities are unlikely to come the way of those who aren’t actively seeking them.

Related to this is the financial danger – the longer it takes you to find a job, the harder it will be to pay off your MBA fees and loans. Going in without a plan also risks reducing the overall value you get from the course, as you’re likely to pick an ill-considered spread of electives that you may regret, and it’s unlikely you’ll take advantage of career services and other added-value extras.

The most important aspect of your post-MBA career plan should be flexibility. You need to ask yourself where you want to be after the course, but without being too specific. For example, ‘working for a multinational firm with a clear path to the C-suite’ makes sense, whereas ‘working as CFO for Unilever’ is far too ambitious. Similarly, ‘running my own business, with some seed investment’ is good goal for entrepreneurs, but ‘looking at exit strategies from my unicorn startup’ is a goal likely to end in failure.

Missed targets are a real downer, so be kind to yourself and avoid making this an inevitability. That said, vague goals don’t need to stay vague. The idea is that if you have a general career direction in mind, you’ll focus your energy on making connections and utilising services to that end.

Maximising opportunities

Place yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneurially-minded MBA candidate. At IE Business School, one of Europe’s leading MBA providers, this person could work with other students at the school’s startup accelerator Venture Lab, meet investors through IE’s Entrepreneurship Center, and take the entrepreneurship elective to learn technical skills.

Through these means, the student could develop a clearer idea of what type of industry they want to enter, what product they want to sell, and how they will go about getting the idea off the ground. The same applies to those following a business leadership career path. Elective courses in financial and strategic management can help students identify their key talents and learn practical skills, while IE’s careers service can guide them towards employers that suit their abilities.

Clearly, it’s vital to strike the right balance between a sense of direction and open-minded flexibility. Of course, there are other things to consider too, such as achieving the right ROI to make sure the MBA was a progressive choice, and making sure to network broadly in spite of your chosen career path.

At the end of the day, the key is to maintain a sense of perspective. You might not end up in your dream job straight after the MBA, and you might end up making a radical career switch a few years after graduation – what matters is that you do everything you can to make your MBA a rich, rounded experience that takes you further and higher than you were when you started.

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This article was originally published in July 2018 . It was last updated in February 2021

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