If you’re considering an MBA or specialized business master’s degree, you likely have one of three general career plans in mind: continuing along your current career path (34% of candidates), changing industries or job functions (38%), or starting your own business (28%).1
While it’s good to have a sense of how you want to develop your career, the reality is that a significant share of grads decide on jobs that are very different from what they originally envisioned.
For example, nearly 1 in 3 (31%) b-school alumni we surveyed said their first job after graduation was in an entirely different industry from the one they planned to work in when they started their program. They changed their minds for a variety of reasons:
- 50% say there were more opportunities available in a different industry.
- 38% were swayed when they met with employers/recruiters.
- 35% changed their mind as a way to increase their salary.
- 34% said their education introduced them to industries they had not previously considered.
- 23% changed their mind after networking with classmates/peers.
- 19% were swayed after networking with alumni.2
The key takeaway is that business school is a time when your career assumptions will be challenged—you’re exposed to vast amounts of new knowledge, ideas, and networking opportunities that can affect your career decision making process. This process can be a complex, taking into account an array of factors ranging from the personal (what city do I want to live in?
), to the financial (does this job pay me enough for me to work off my student loan debt?
), to the realities of the hiring market (are there opportunities for growth in the job function I’m interested in?
Engage with Career Services Right from the Start
Your business school’s career services office will be your best resource for developing your career plans, testing your assumptions, and understanding what to expect. Engaging with the experienced staff at your career services office early and often during business school can yield some major benefits to you—and not just when you’re actively looking for a job.
Here’s five key ways career services can help develop your career potential:
- Finding an Internship – Career services offices have established relationships with companies that routinely offer internships to graduate b-school students. Internships are an excellent way to land a full-time job offer—among the b-school class of 2015, internships had the highest success rate of any job search method.3
- Skill Building Workshops – Career services offices lead workshops throughout the year on resume writing, soft skills development, business etiquette and language, negotiating job offers, and other critical career development skills. Take advantage early on—skill development takes time, and you’ll want to be ready when your job search is in full swing.
- Understanding the Market and Focusing Your Job Search – Many career services offices offer resources and one-on-one coaching to help you strategically approach your job search. Experienced staff know what techniques work best by world region, industry, job function, and more. Take advantage of their insights to gain a critical edge in a competitive, ever-changing job market.
- Recruiting Events – Coordinated through career services offices, corporate recruiters attend on-campus job fairs to recruit new talent and interview for full-time positions. When surveyed this year, corporate recruiters told us that on-campus interviews are their most effective recruiting method, which explains why 87 percent of US companies plan to make on-campus visits in 2015.4
- Connecting with Alumni – Many b-school alumni make themselves available to current students through the career services office. Alums can help you explore career opportunities, answer your questions, and put you in touch with other alums to expand your network. Our recent survey of alumni revealed that 38 percent are interested in mentoring recent graduates and 22 percent want to recruit recent graduates and other alumni for their employer.5
Make Career Services Part of Your School Search Criteria
Your career development needs should be among your selection criteria when exploring potential b-school programs. The School Finder tool
on mba.com includes more than 1,600 schools that you can search by location, program level, degree type, program length, and format. Assess which programs and schools will give you the best opportunity to succeed both academically and in your career development.
1 GMAC (2015). mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report.
2 GMAC (2012). Alumni Perspectives Survey Report.
3 GMAC (2015). Global Management Education Graduates Survey Report.
4 GMAC (2015). Corporate Recruiters Survey Report.
5 GMAC (2015). Alumni Perspectives Survey Report.