Whether it is a desired change in industry or role, a large portion of potential business school students look to an MBA to assist with a career change. They do so as the degree has a very strong reputation and is known to open doors in a number of different ways for its students and graduates. For some, career change is a moment where they decide that their role is not progressing as planned, and for others, it is unhappiness, a search for a greater challenge or just a desire to do more and keep growing.
Whatever your motivation is for change, the MBA can help get you there. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between the degree and switching careers.
Earning your MBA degree can give a serious advantage to anyone who is considering a career change – and that advantage goes beyond the piece of paper that graduates receive. Here are some of the other ways that an MBA helps with a career change.
Career change is a primary motivator for starting an MBA
When looking at what motivates students to pursue an MBA, career change or a change in role is often one of the top motivations.
While some students find themselves unexpectedly motivated to change industry or role as a result of their study, many enter an MBA with a specific career change outcome in mind. This was the case with AIB MBA graduate Zoe Kammas, who shared, “I was motivated to study the MBA because of a change in my career. Coming from the aviation industry, I wanted to pursue human resources, so I specialised my MBA degree in human resources management”.
Prior to starting her MBA, Zoe knew the new direction she wanted her career to take, and could therefore tailor her studies to do so. The new knowledge helped Zoe, and many others, to branch out and pursue a new field and role.
AIB MBA graduates report successful career change
Career change is just one of a range of reasons that students enrol in AIB’s Fast Track MBA, but successfully achieving it is widely reported as an outcome for graduates.
According to the 2021 MBA Alumni Insights Report, 76% of AIB Alumni report changing their job function since commencing their MBA. 70% of all Alumni also report moving into a more senior role. That means that a fraction of those graduates who changed function were able to make a totally lateral change – into a new area or industry.
The MBA can open new doors
As a degree that gives students a holistic knowledge of business, the MBA can open new and exciting doors for its graduates as their comprehension of the business world and various industries broadens.
Many graduates discover new things they can do after an MBA unexpectedly as their new knowledge prompts them to consider new ventures. The degree exposes students to innovative ideas and often changes the way they view their own career and future.
A 28 year-old Carolyn Stark told The Globe and Mail, “When I first applied to the MBA, I didn’t necessarily know I wanted to go into consulting,” she said. Throughout the duration of her degree, she was exposed to a range of companies and discovered her talent for providing strategic advice. “That [MBA experience] was really valuable since I was making a big switch to get that exposure to different industries and different options,” she said.
How to use an MBA to change careers
To change careers with an MBA, there are a few things you can do. A little bit of planning ahead of your MBA, making the most of the opportunities that study presents and taking the right steps after your MBA can all go a long way. Here are four tips to help you leverage an MBA for a career change.
Find a specialisation that suits your goals
One of the great strengths of an MBA is that it prepares leaders for broad responsibilities, and therefore the subjects and skills it covers is also very broad. After all, many MBA graduates will end up in C-level positions with responsibilities that span whole organisations.
However, the MBA curriculum is also designed knowing that graduates will make stronger leaders if they are especially strong in a specialisation that suits them. Fast-Track MBA students are able to specialise in subjects like Finance, Human Resource Management, Marketing Management, Entrepreneurship or Logistics and Supply Chain Management. If you’re considering an MBA for career change, review each of the specialisations available and select one that aligns with your goals.
Develop transferable skills
Many of the skills that we pick up and hone throughout our careers are very specialised, and it’s common for professionals to rise in their organisations by becoming experts at one or two particular things.
The obstacle to further progression is that many of the skills you need to lead well are different to many of the skills you need to execute well. But the good news is that most of the skills that leaders need are highly transferable from one industry to another or one type of organisation to another.
These are exactly the types of skills that an MBA can help you develop. By undertaking an MBA, you will build a broad repertoire of skills that can be applied to a wide range of senior roles.
Networking with your MBA is a must
When students commence the MBA, they may be perfectly happy in their role but are motivated by other reasons such as an increased salary or the desire for a formal qualification. Throughout the program, students meet members of the AIB Alumni Network from around the world and in a range of different industries. These interactions allow students to build relationships, which in turn can often lead to new career opportunities. Contacts are formed in industries where students previously knew no one, and before they know it, they are pursuing a new venture.
Leverage your newfound confidence
An MBA program delivers an intensive and well-rounded holistic education that gives graduates greater confidence in their own knowledge and abilities. You also pick up skills that improve your ability to communicate, negotiate and influence. These skills don’t just make you a more effective leader, you should also be applying them to secure the types of roles you want.
Consider an MBA for making a career change
Whether it’s through the application of new knowledge, or the establishment of new contacts, it is clear that undertaking an MBA can assist greatly in successfully pulling off a career change. We’d love to hear from MBA graduates who have pursued a career change through their MBA – how did it work out for you and what advice do you have to current or potential MBA students?
As AIB CEO, Jo has almost 20 years’ experience in senior operations and has held multiple c-suite positions at some of Australia’s most iconic companies including iSelect and Compare The Market. Jo’s academic qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in communications, complemented by an MBA completed in 2010. Connect with Jo on LinkedIn
*The Australian Institute of Business (AIB) is Australia’s largest provider of MBAs. Source Ready, B. (2023) Domestic Enrolments Surged During COVID After International Students Locked Out, MBA News. Available at: MBA News.