Not having an exact career focus at the start of business school is normal. But by choosing to go to school you’re taking the right step: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts occupations that require postsecondary education for entry should grow faster on average than those that require a high school diploma or less.
Here are six jobs where an MBA could make a difference.
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6. Software developer: This job name broadly describes those information technology professionals who design computer programs, applications and operating systems. Having an MBA isn’t a prerequisite to find work, but employers prefer developers who have obtained one with a focus on information systems.
Visiting career services: Mark Gasche, managing director of the Career Management Center at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, says his staff begins interacting with students before they arrive for orientation. "While they're here, we encourage students to stay
connected ... via job action groups, career
seminars and workshops, one-on-one coaching and our Kellogg job board," he says.
5. Information security analyst: These analysts monitor and protect an organization’s computer network and systems. According to the BLS, prior experience in a related field is usually a prerequisite, and companies prefer to hire those with an MBA. MIT's Sloan School of Management and Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business are top-notch programs for studying information systems.
Making connections: "Be as well-versed as possible in terms of the offerings of your school," says Pamela Mittman, assistant dean of career services and leadership development at New York University's Stern School of Business. "We leverage our second-year students, refer to them as career coaches and train them to provide direct feedback," Mittman explains.
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4. Financial manager: If you have a background as a financial analyst, accountant or loan officer and want to branch out, consider earning an MBA with a specialization in corporate finance. From there you could become a financial manager – where you’d oversee all money matters for an organization. NYU Stern plus the University of Chicago Booth School of Business are good options.
Choosing a career path: For more fruitful planning, change your perspective, says Jackie Wilbur, an executive director at MIT Sloan. "Shift from thinking, 'I need a job, I need a job,' to 'What can I do that I’m interested in and where can I contribute?'"
3. Management analyst: In this field, you’ll provide feedback on improving an organization’s efficiency and profitability. Competitive candidates have a few years of experience in operations, the Certified Management Consultant designation and have earned an MBA with a focus on management. Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and University of Michigan—Ann Arbor's Stephen M. Ross School of Business have top programs.
Developing the intangible: MBA programs tune their students’ emotional intelligence, since that’s integral to career advancement. "We focus on how they want to construct their lives," Wilbur says. "We ask them, 'What are your values around careers and work? Your personal life? If you’re going to be a manager, how are you going to manage people different from you?'"
Gasche says Kellogg also nurtures well-rounded students. "Our curriculum enhances their competencies in leadership, teamwork, collaboration, negotiation, compromise and problem-solving, and equips students with a general management perspective."