5 Questions You Must Ask About MBA Career Services
When we choosing an MBA program for our carears, experts say evaluating the quality of a business school’s professional services should be high on potential students’ lists.
Career services centers can provide a variety of assistance, such as interview preparation, resume analysis, and career planning. Many career service centers help students find jobs by maintaining relationships with local and national employers, especially those with a large alumni presence. These relationships can connect students to internships and full-time jobs.
“Business schools are not just about academic learning, but also about preparing students for the real world of work,” Kim Lewis-Collins, executive director of full-time MBA career services at the School of Business, wrote in an email. are.” New York University. “A well-staffed career center helps students develop their career goals, identify their strengths, and align their educational experiences with their career goals.”
Susan Serra, director of MBA admissions at Streets Admissions Counseling, previously served on the admissions committee at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina, where students are required to visit Career Services to discuss their goals. was
One example she remembers was a career services meeting with a student business owner. Although the student was finding success, he wanted to make sure that if his business failed, he would have a backup plan. Serra says a successful MBA program and career services center invest in ensuring that graduates are employed throughout their careers, not just in the first three months after graduation.
“The curriculum will prepare you in some ways,” he says, “but if there aren’t comprehensive resources that will prepare you to find the job you want, why are you going?”
For students considering an MBA program, here are five questions to ask career services.
What Type of Career Support Is Offered?
Prospective MBA students typically consider business school for one of three reasons, experts say: They are leaving a profession to enter the business world, they want to advance to an executive or management role, or they want a new role within their company. .
An individual’s personal goals generally dictate whether they enroll in a part-time or full-time program. Typically, part-time MBA students are already working in a business-related job, while full-time students typically leave a career to enter the business world. Different objectives require different support from professional services, with some programs taking a more practical approach than others.
At Wake Forest University School of Business, a part-time program, the career services center focuses less on job placement and more on helping students pivot within their current company, says Mark Noonan, associate director. of preparation and participation in the school market. The school offers a personalized “concierge service” to assist students with their specific career needs.
“There are some students who just want help reviewing their resume or profile,” he says. “There are students on the other end of the spectrum who want to take advantage of their MBA to do something completely different.”
At Stern, the career center begins working with students the summer before their first classes begin. Students then participate in the “IGNITE” career education program, which guides them through the recruiting process, providing resume critiques, networking tips and mock interviews, Lewis-Collins says.
“All incoming first-year MBA students take the CliftonStrengths assessment to help them discover and articulate their talents and how to turn them into strengths,” she says. “At the beginning of the MBA experience, we also require students to develop odyssey plans to visualize and detail multiple paths their next two years may take.”
Do You Have an Industry-Specific Career Services Center?
Students often choose a specialization within their MBA program to tailor their studies to their desired industry. Students should also consider whether the school has a business-specific career services center that can further support their goals, says Dan Moshavi, dean of the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University in California.
These types of professional service centers will be directly tied to specific business industries, which can help with networking and employment.
Moshavi says he previously served as a dean in a program that did not have a university-specific career services center, so students used the university career center. The latter can be helpful, but typically provides less industry-specific guidance since it is geared toward serving the general student population, he says that.
How Successful Are the Program’s Recent Graduates?
Industry-specific career services centers often collect data on job growth and market trends, including sectors that are growing or declining, as well as where graduates with specific degrees are working. . This data can be extremely valuable to prospective MBA students.
Fowler surveys alumni twice a year to find out where they are working, what their starting salary was and whether they changed jobs after graduation, Moshavi says. Lewis-Collins says Stern publishes an annual MBA employment report, “which provides a comprehensive look at employment rates, compensation, industries, functions, geographies and more.”
Serra says prospective students should ask career services about this data and do their own research. She also encourages prospective students to look at employment data in their desired industry that includes people without an MBA.
“If you want to go into tech, the people you want to work for at a tech company might not be MBAs,” she says. “They might be people from the engineering program and be just as willing to help you.”
She says it’s also important to look at the raw numbers of people in specific industries because percentages can be misleading if not put into proper context of class size.
Are Career Services Available to Alumni?
A career service center can be an excellent resource for MBA students while they are in the program, and some schools do not deprive students of these resources when they graduate.
For example, Stern alumni receive free career services for life, Lewis-Collins says. Others may offer free services for a set period after graduation, but then charge for counseling at a specific point. Others may refer graduates to the alumni office after a certain point.
“The NYU Stern Career Office employs a team specifically dedicated to supporting working professionals, including alumni,” she says. “Hard graduates can take advantage of a wide array of services to manage their careers for life, including career coaching, professional development events, job postings and more.”
Serra says career support for alumni can be a major selling point for some prospective students.
“Three or five years from now there might be a time where you’re ready for the next thing,” she says.
What Unique Opportunities Does Career Services Provide?
Wake Forest emphasizes partnerships with the local corporate community to bring in business leaders to speak and host workshops. MBA students there can have one-on-one, hour-long consultations with local business executives to pick their brains about a specific job or industry.
Experts say prospective students should ask about these types of events and what other opportunities career services can provide that may be unique.
Serra says one way some MBA programs provide networking opportunities and open doors to potential employers is by arranging visits to companies through career services or clubs. Students interested in a specific business field may want to ask if they will have opportunities to visit companies in their field of interest.
For example, a student interested in working on the technology side of business may want to visit companies in Silicon Valley. Serra says it helps students “get their feet on the ground” and network with alumni and potential employers.
“These are the kinds of events where you can make a personal connection with someone who is setting you up to find the job you want.”