Congratulations, you’ve earned your MBA! After all of your hard work, you already know that the Master of Business Administration is not a one-size-fits-all degree. An MBA holder may go on to become a product developer, manager of a home health care business, director of a nonprofit organization, accounts manager of a large corporation or business systems analyst of a high-tech company. Some MBA holders go into business for themselves as entrepreneurs and consultants. Overall, an MBA prepares people for management jobs and other positions of leadership in the modern business world, particularly in the realm of finance, accounting, marketing, government, human resources, general management and health care.
Earning an MBA is a good way to go from being among the rank and file to joining the supervisory and administrative levels at a company, or a means of moving from mid- to upper-level management. Because most quality MBA programs require students to have at least two years of professional work experience before they can enroll, not only will you have graduate education on your resume, but also work experience and likely an internship through your MBA to bolster your schooling. Remember that organizations are only as good as their leadership, and employers are always on the lookout for talented people with MBA training alongside work experience on their resumes.
Traditional MBA Careers
Since an MBA is most often a generalist, interdisciplinary degree, it is considered very versatile in the job market and prepares students for a variety of fields. Students may concentrate, however, in an area they are particularly interested in pursuing to gain additional preparation and boost their chances of landing a job in that industry. For instance, an MBA in finance is ample preparation for diverse financial careers in asset management, financial management, capital markets, commercial banking, commodities, financial advising and investment consulting. An MBA concentration in accounting can prepare you for CPA certification or open you up to other careers in accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, tax management, financial analysis and controller work. Marketing is another popular field for MBA holders, with available management positions in promotions, public relations, advertising and sales. Sales, consulting, general management and nonprofit management provide other traditional MBA career options.
The Tech Side of MBA Employment
Strong management is also needed in the high-tech industry and the numerous successful dot-com startups that have emerged in the past five years. Hiring managers prefer MBA holders because of their innovative thinking. Professionals are also needed to maintain and improve IT in a variety of industries. High-tech management jobs also very often go to individuals with MBAs. Information systems management may involve leading a team of software systems engineers, database developers and administrators, cyber security professionals or simply serving as one of many project managers for an IT team.
The MBA in Health Care
There is also a need for strong leadership in the realm of non-practitioner health care. The health care industry is projected to grow in the future as the overall population expands and the baby boomer generation ages and requires more health care services. As the number of health care facilities grows, MBA-trained professionals will be needed to make decisions from the top that lead to the success of various health care organizations. MBA holders use their broad financial competence to handle the business side of health care, helping to map out strategic goals to minimize financial losses and maximize efficiency and productivity while prioritizing good patient outcomes. Health care executives must also be tech savvy and ensure that the most up-to-date systems are being used at hospitals and clinics.
Different Types of Work Environments
MBA work environments truly run the gamut. Many MBA holders work in comfortable, professional work environments, typically offices where they make use of computers and various software to do their jobs. MBA workplaces are very diverse, with men and women from different cultures and backgrounds represented. Many corporations that employ MBA holders have numerous international offices, so such employees must be comfortable collaborating with foreign co-workers in different time zones.
Some positions held by MBAs—particularly in construction, sports or project management—require regular visits to project sites and extensive travel. For example, regional managers of a chain of businesses are often responsible for visiting all of the stores in their purview in a typical month, talking with the individual shop managers about any issues they are facing and providing support where necessary.
MBA holders may work independently or as a member of large or small teams. Those who lead teams or work as part of a management one must be able to delegate responsibilities appropriately, handle conflicts that arise, actively listen to suggestions provided by fellow members and work together with them to effectively push forward the organization’s mission and goals. MBA holders who work independently must manage their time effectively, as they do not have as much direct accountability. Some MBA holders telecommute, doing their work from a home office while managing teams in different cities through video conferencing. MBA holders who own their own businesses have the liberty to set their own hours, but must remain productive to ensure profitability.
The Bigger the Title, the Bigger the Responsibility
Managers in almost every industry must work long hours to complete projects, financial reports and work assignments on time. It’s not uncommon for top executives and top-level managers to work 50 hours or more a week. Managers are also at the top of the chain of command, dealing with the most complex issues an organization faces, such as placating angry or dissatisfied clients, customers or business partners; negotiating high-stakes business deals; or ensuring productivity or profit goals are met. Many MBA holders are on call 24/7 to handle the various crises that crop up in organizations. This can lead to a lot of pressure, which is why MBA holders—who have extensive training in managerial communication, problem solving and critical thinking— are well suited for thriving under such rigorous demands.
To launch your post-MBA career, consider honing some of the resume and interview skills covered in the next few sections.