School’s Out: Job Strategies for MBA Students and Grads
As summer break and graduation approaches, MBA students are thinking about what they’ll be doing outside of class.
While the end goal might be the same for all students — get a job that utilizes newly acquired business skills — full-time MBA students and those currently employed need to use different strategies to climb the career ladder.
Here are some tips to help MBA students and graduates in their career strategy.
- Expand your circle. Your family, friends, managers and co-workers may know you are pursuing your MBA, but you should also let people outside your inner circle know. A wider professional network can provide you with information, encouragement and other support throughout your educational experience and beyond. This network can include professionals at work who are not on your team and members of trade associations and MBA organizations you can join.
- Keep up-to-date on industry news and trends. Stay current on topics related to the positions you are seeking. MBA students and grads can spot trends and find opportunities before they are posted on job boards. To keep up with trending topics, you can follow specific keywords on Twitter, set up Google alerts or customize personal news feeds on LinkedIn.
- Involve your employer. If employed, tell your employer your exact plans after earning the MBA and how you will apply your new skills to company goals. State your commitment to the company and your industry. Explain the return on investment (ROI) with your employer in terms of professional development and how an MBA program has or will establish you as a foundation in management. Keep in mind if your company has offered to pay tuition assistance for your MBA, they will probably want something in return — an extended employment contract, for example.
- Tap into alumni network. Use alumni resources to locate job opportunities in your chosen industry. Connecting through alumni associations and professional networking websites can help students and graduates develop relationships throughout their job search. Reaching out to alums may not result in a job, but you can gather information and build your network in the process.
- Consider the value of internships. Internships can be important in shaping the career paths for MBA degree students and recent graduates. Internship programs are still a favorite screening mechanism of MBA recruiters, according to the QS TopMBA.com Global Employer Survey. An internship can provide you with an opportunity to discover, ask questions and take risks you might not be able to later in your career.
Employers are seeking MBA students and graduates with specific examples of management and leadership capabilities. You should show how experiences in the MBA program translate to work. MBA students can track their activities while in school, keeping in mind the situations or problems they had to overcome, objectives, actions taken and outcomes. They can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique on resumes and in interviews to illustrate school and work activities to show employers what they can do for them.