7 Non-Traditional Jobs for MBA Graduates August 30, 2018
Reported by Sampatti Wagh - Guest Blogger at Dongrila Inc.
While it's common for MBA recipients to work as management consultants or investment bankers, there are many other types of careers that business school grads can pursue.
"The possibilities are endless," Anna Kouzovleva, an alumna of the MBA program at ESCP Europe who now works as the digital brand lead for Europe at the multinational candy company Mars Inc., said via email. "I have witnessed students not only switching careers, but also discovering new passions that they had no idea existed. For instance, during some classes and projects, we became more aware of the career opportunities in social impact, innovation, tech and much more beyond the traditional choices."
Amanda Karr, executive director of student enrollment services at Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management, says MBA-level management training is valuable in nearly any type of business position. "You can really apply it to whatever the interests are that you have," she says.
MBA programs typically offer numerous elective courses, where students can focus on cultivating specialized skills necessary for their target industry, Karr says. And graduate business schools can not only educate students about growing sectors of the U.S. economy, such as financial technology, but also provide exposure to an eclectic array of industries, which helps students discover their professional calling, she says.
Joyce Russell, the dean of the Villanova School of Business who holds a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology, says that MBA programs can prepare students for "the jobs of the future" at technology companies like Amazon, Airbnb and Uber.
"When you think about why those businesses came to be, a lot of it was solving problems that people were frustrated with... It's always about some underlying consumer concern that influenced some great invention," Russell says. One way to tell whether a B-school is providing cutting-edge training is to find out whether the school is making a concerted effort to discover which skills MBA hiring managers consider desirable, Russell says.
According to Russell, another positive sign is if an MBA program offers a flexible and interdisciplinary curriculum, giving students the opportunity to take courses outside the business school if those classes are relevant to their career path.
Kristen Sosulski, a clinical associate professor of information, operations and management sciences at New York University's Stern School of Business, says that some skills taught at MBA programs are relevant throughout the business world. For instance, business schools teach students how to maximize a company's efficiency, which is a vital skill, regardless of the sector they enter, Sosulski says.
Ayush Shah, a Stern MBA student who recently completed an operations management internship at Amazon, suggests that students pursuing an MBA consider which career benefits they hope to get through attending business school.
"Whatever a candidate's career aspirations are, they need to have a clear idea of what they would like to do after school and the self-awareness to understand what holes in their skill sets need plugging," Shah wrote via email. "Once this is clear, they must relentlessly chase and take advantage of all the opportunities that the school offers to broaden their skill sets in the desired areas."
With that in mind, here are seven outside-the-box post-MBA jobs that aren't solely focused on consulting or finance.
Supply chain or operations management jobs. "Operations is interesting, because it's an often-overlooked area of study in the MBA curriculum, and it really speaks to the supply side of the business, and how to transform inputs into outputs and the processes used to do that. And it's everywhere," Sosulski says.
She notes that digital retailers like the FreshDirect online grocery delivery company are often eager to hire MBA graduates, because these companies are looking for cost-efficient ways to bring products to consumers.
Data analytics jobs that involve interpreting data to identify new business opportunities.Sosulski says that data is a valuable asset in the business world, so MBA graduates who are skilled at interpreting data are attractive hires in a variety of industries. Nowadays, most companies emphasize data-driven decision-making.
Employers are particularly eager to hire newly minted MBAs who have training in predictive modeling, the science of creating accurate business forecasts, since these insights can provide companies with a competitive advantage, she says.
Higher education management positions. Sosulski says that MBA-trained workers have the skills necessary to help colleges and universities compete to attract students. Higher education institutions are frequently introducing academic programs that are targeted to students with hyper-focused career interests, such as students who are interested in luxury marketing careers, she says.
"Higher education is going through a huge transformation, and I think there is definitely an opportunity for MBAs there," Sosulski says. Given the increasing popularity of online learning programs, colleges and universities are seeking accurate methods of measuring the effectiveness of teaching within those programs as compared to more traditional, in-person forms of instruction, she says. "I think there's opportunity both on the analytical side and on the marketing and finance side."
Cara Withers Shaw, the founder and president of Briteboard Marketing, a company that helps promote family-oriented and faith-based movies, who previously held marketing jobs with Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney Co., says that MBA training is valuable in the film industry.
Shaw, who has an MBA degree from Pepperdine University, says that her MBA helped her develop both the quantitative and qualitative analytical skills necessary to decipher the preferences of moviegoers and determine the types of movies that are likely to become box office hits.
Corporate jobs that focus on environmental sustainability and innovation. Many large corporations are searching for ways to make their business practices more environmentally sustainable, Russell says. She adds that numerous corporations are trying to discover and implement policies that will encourage creativity among their employees. MBA graduates can find jobs related to either of these two common types of corporate initiatives, she says.
Management roles in the food and beverage industry. Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-founder and co-owner of the Wigle Whiskey alcohol company, says that an MBA degree is beneficial in her industry.
Company founders. Aspiring entrepreneurs who elect to attend graduate business school gain valuable networking opportunities, Sosulski says. "An MBA gives you access to a diverse set of individuals, and that network is something that ... stays with you after you graduate," she says.
Rebecca Sidler Krysiak, the director of the MBA, M.S. in leadership and M.S. in management programs at Walden University who holds an engineering doctorate, says that an MBA provides valuable lessons for someone who intends to create their own company. "An MBA covers the types of business knowledge students can use to be successful entrepreneurs in various industries," she wrote via email.