MBA aspirants need to understand post -MBA career opportunities

In my 20 years of experience as an admission consultant, I have seen that glossy and shiny websites available for prospective MBA applicants may seem to indicate that a 1 or 2 year tour at a leading business school is necessary and sufficient condition for significant boost in one’s career. Each business school, whether in the Top 20 or the Top 100, entices candidates with promises of international careers, cutting-edge job opportunities, and the unstated assumption that graduates will soon be managing entire phalanx of workers. Indeed, B-schools spend an inordinate amount of time arranging a full array of corporate presentations, coaching students on interviewing techniques, and assuring that each student has full access to alumni databases and proprietary information in order to make such promises realizable. However, there needs to be a rational consideration of what different career paths are available after earning an MBA degree, especially for Indian candidates who are not completely aware of what a business school education entails.

What follows is some sobering advice on assessing post-MBA career opportunities. Is earning the much-wanted MBA degree all about the lucrative $200,000 job offers, General Manager Titles and “corner office” perks? To sum it up in one word, ‘No’. First, Indian MBAs may not enjoy as many job opportunities as nationals of Western Europe or the USA, given the reduced need for staffing in India and Asia. Second, the top strategy consultancies (McKinsey, BCG, Bain) and leading investment banks (JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch etc.) establish pre-determined hiring needs for MBA graduates on a worldwide basis- and it’s only such jobs that make the aforementioned $200,000 job offer cut. Third, the notion of graduating from business school and being hired as a “General Manager” of a major company is uncorroborated. With a few exceptions, the major multinationals, investment banks and consulting companies hire all candidates at the same level, albeit with some salary considerations.

While an MBA is often at times a necessary precondition for being accepted into the upper ranks of management, it is not true that MBA grads are hired immediately into these positions. Instead, companies provide generous training and career development opportunities that provide a sufficient base for making a subsequent “lateral” move into senior positions in industry or the services sector. The usual path from business school requires 4–8 years to make the move to “partner” or “managing director.” The promotion path may be more rapid for an older, highly experienced candidate, but in general, the 25-year-old whiz kid and the savvy 35 year-old will both inherit the same title after their B-school degree.

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