What To Do After an MBA Degree: Next Steps

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Thinking about how to get a job after graduation? Read more to find out what to do after completing an MBA degree!

While completing an MBA program doesn’t automatically guarantee a hike in your salary or job status, it can definitely improve your chances of getting hired in your ideal industry, advance your status in your current field, and create opportunity for a totally new career path. Whether you are a seasoned professional or just enrolled in your first semester, follow this guide to learn what to do after an MBA.



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What you get from an MBA degree

Leadership, communication, problem solving, risk management, etc. are all skills learned through MBA programs. Once you are accepted into a program, you will likely start thinking about your specialization. Many MBA students specialize in fields like technology, finance, or entrepreneurship. Whatever you choose, you can be sure to enhance both your personal abilities and, of course, your earning potential.



Some Common Types of MBA Degrees


Accelerated MBA


If you are under time pressure, the accelerated MBA might be a good fit for you. Students can typically expect heavier course loads, summer classes, and less time for breaks in between semesters. The positive side is the programs typically last one year, which could save you thousands in tuition costs.



Distance Learning MBA


In lieu of interactive activities in the classroom, students enrolled in online MBA courses will learn via pre-recorded videos, teleconferencing, and offline courses. Although some students might prefer a more hands-on learning experience, this type of MBA benefits those who cannot commit their time to a full program.



Executive MBA


Designed for those who cannot afford to take time away from their career, the executive MBA is typically delivered in a part-time format, over a period of 12 to 24 months. Admission into these programs typically requires not only professional work experience, but specifically managerial experience. Students often require financial support, which makes the executive MBA a great option for those who already work for employers who are willing to sponsor the degree.



Professional MBA


Similar to the part-time MBA, the professional MBA provides even greater flexibility, allowing students to complete the degree within 12 months. Because of the modular design, students can choose to switch between full-time and part-time course loads, as suitable to their current situation.



Full-time programs

For those looking to make a drastic career change, you might consider enrolling in a full-time program. Engage with your professors and fellow students, letting them shape the future of your own career. You can find traditional two-year programs or accelerated one-year programs, often suitable for those with family obligations.


Not only will you open doors to new job opportunities, but you will learn valuable skills to take with you later in life, like leadership, communication, problem solving, and risk management. Part of becoming a profitable business leader means learning to collaborate with your peers. Pursuing an MBA degree will give you the opportunity to work with different teams on projects and mock simulations, preparing you with one of the most powerful skills demanded by modern businesses.



Part-time programs

Many times, if enough trust is built between employer and employee, and the degree opens new business opportunities, companies will pay for their employees to earn an MBA degree outside regular work hours. This way, employees can continue to earn regular incomes while studying, without the sacrifice of enrolling in a full-time degree. University of the People, for instance, offers tuition-free online education, meaning you can enroll in courses and complete your degree on your own time.


Though the amount of time spent in school will be longer than a full-time degree, you will appreciate the financial payoff. Given that the prospects for salary increases are the same whether you earn your MBA full-time or part-time, once you graduate you will still be more visible to employers as a specialist in your field.



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So, you completed your MBA. What are the next steps?

1. Set realistic career goals

The first step in success is knowing yourself, what you want, and what skills you have to pursue your interests after completing your MBA degree. Knowing what you can offer employers will help you narrow your job search to those most suitable for you. And knowing what you want out of a job will help you navigate the web of companies and interviews, selecting the one that satisfies your needs the most.


Maybe you are someone who wants to help others with their finance struggles, in which case you might consider careers in accountancy or tax regulation. Or maybe you prefer analyzing long sets of data and presenting them in a clear, concise manner. Many MBA students struggle to create their own career path, rather than following the crowd. Make sure you start thinking early in your MBA program which courses come the most naturally to you. Talk to professors about areas in which you can improve. And, most importantly, be confident in communicating your natural abilities.


According to the Princeton Review, some of the most in-demand specializations include:

  • International Management
  • Strategy
  • General Management
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Finance Leadership
  • Operations Management
  • Technology Management


2. Apply for jobs

The demand for MBA degrees continues to grow, and employers from every industry imaginable are looking for talented and skilled candidates. Narrow down your job search first to the industry of interest, e.g., healthcare, technology, management, finance, etc. Research available positions within companies of interest and contact HR professionals directly through Linkedin.


Use recruiters to gain access to new opportunities. Run a quick search on LinkedIn for companies in the fields that interest you most, and search through the current employee lists. If an HR professional is not immediately accessible, try reaching out to other employees in departments that match your background and skill set. Often, with a positive message and energy, they will put you in contact with the right people to help you boost your career.



As a brief overview, some common post-MBA professions include:


Computer & Information Systems Manager


Plans and manages computer-related activities of an organization, implements software and hardware, and develops the use of computer networks.

  • Education: MBA graduate with concentration in information systems
  • Median annual salary (2017): $135,800
  • Employment outlook: 15% projected growth from 2014-2024


Financial Manager


Oversees financial activities and transactions, cash management, and investment planning of companies. Creates financial procedures and budgets, helping companies meet their fiscal objectives.

  • Education: MBA with concentration and certification in finance
  • Median annual salary (2017): $121,750
  • Employment outlook: 7% projected growth from 2014-2024


Health Services Manager


Expands and diversifies healthcare procedures, monitors the adherence to government healthcare reforms, oversees the work of doctors, technicians, and clerical workers.

  • Education: Master’s degree or MBA with concentration in health services management
  • Median annual salary (2017): $96,540
  • Employment outlook: 17% projected growth from 2014-2024


Investment Banker


Helps companies, organizations, and government agencies raise money by providing strategic advice regarding mergers, acquisitions, and other types of business deals.

  • Education: MBA with concentration in finance
  • Median annual salary (2017): $78,480
  • Employment outlook: 10% projected growth from 2014-2024



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3. Use your internship and hands-on experience to your advantage

Internships can be a very effective way to find a job as an MBA student. Not only will you gain hands-on experience and a chance to evaluate yourself as a future employee, but, often, student internships lead to full-time employment after graduation. According to a recent corporate recruiters survey from GMAC, 85% of the surveyed companies who had MBA interns ended up offering them full-time positions.


You can complete an internship simultaneously with your studies, or you may choose to spend your summer break interning — even better if you can get reimbursed financially or with course credit! Investing your time in an internship during your summer break might inspire your plans for your future career, and refocus you before the upcoming semester.



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4. Take advantage of your school’s resources

Pretty much all esteemed business schools have some sort of career development center available to its students and alumni. Before graduating, ask an academic counselor to review your overall academic performance and discuss possible career paths based on your natural abilities. Once you have a field or industry in mind, you can utilize the keyword search in your university’s job board.


Additional services often include leadership development seminars, networking events, and a vast alumni network. Even if you have already finished your MBA degree and are looking to boost or change your career, tap into your university’s alumni network and find out what your previous classmates are up to now! Get inspired about your own development and take advantage of free resources available to MBA students.



5. Start a business

Many MBA students are inspired by the prospect of starting an independent business. If you are entrepreneurial, think about starting a business on your own or with your classmates. In 2015, the Financial Times reported that the number of MBA graduates who started businesses within three years of graduation had increased by 22%.


Entrepreneurs are known for being creative risk-takers; and MBA programs typically teach strategy, educating students on implementation planning and the process of entering different markets. They also teach differing alternatives of running a business. Your MBA degree will teach you how to get into the heads of leaders of small and large companies, and how you can replicate their successes and improve from their mistakes.



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Wrapping Up

Define your own abilities and think about what differentiates you from the rest. Why are you the best candidate for the job? What are you short-term and long-term career goals?


If you find difficulty answering these questions right now, don’t stress. You can always take some time off to travel or volunteer. Make time for yourself amidst your busy schedule and plan a trip if you need a longer break to re-energize. You might even be more motivated by degree programs overseas. Living in a foreign country will open your eyes to new cultures and lifestyles and knowledge of new languages that may help you later in your career!


For those who prefer studying online, you might consider travelling abroad while earning an online degree. You may even find cheaper options by studying in another country. The good news is, with so many ways to earn your MBA degree, you really can’t go wrong. Remember that MBA programs are becoming more accessible and affordable around the world, which means no matter where you are, you will be apart of a diverse and international network of entrepreneurs.



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