September 26, 2019
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr Bradshaw,
I am a sophomore at Northwestern University. I am thinking about pursuing a career in business. What are the job prospects for MBAs given the current state of the economy? An MBA takes two years to complete and I hear horror stories about students graduating thousands of dollars in debt and with weak job prospects. If I don’t go to grad school, what are my chances of finding a good job?
MBAs Not required to
succeed in the business world
The answers to your questions are all quite subjective. If you are a top student with high SAT scores (yes, many companies require them) and possess strong analytical skills, the chances are that you will have multiple job offers when you graduate with your undergraduate degree. That is my first option to recommend if you feel you need to take some time to adjust to the real world of work.
If you are a plodder and plan to take five years to graduate, you face a very poor job market. Predictably, most students at Northwestern do not fall into that category or they would not have been admitted. Many students flounder as undergraduates at less competitive colleges and end up not being good candidates for either the job market or graduate school.
You are lucky in that NU has an excellent Career Management Center with strong connections to corporate recruiters. The two-year course of study at most schools allows for an internship period and this is invaluable when it comes to your employment prospects down the line.
Newly minted MBAs are flooding a shrinking job market in record numbers. Should you get a master’s degree in business administration? The Wall Street Journal reported that 85% of U.S. employers planned to hire MBA grads in 2018. That is a decrease from 91% in 2017 and the largest drop in business school recruitment in years.
Applications are even down at Harvard Business School and Stanford. According to the WSJ “median pay today for new MBAs is down 4.6% from 2007-08. Pay fell at 62% of 186 schools examined."
In addition, the WSJ reported that, "The number of GMAT test scores sent to two-year, full-time MBA programs has plummeted since 2015. Last year 70% of two-year MBA programs saw declining enrollment; in 2014 it was only one-third."
That leaves you facing some pretty daunting decisions on whether to consider going on to earn an MBA after you graduate.
There is a third alternative. After earning your undergraduate degree, go to work.
If students are aggressive in their job search and come with a strong undergraduate academic record, today’s employers are often ready to take a chance on you.
A student comfortable working with computers and spreadsheets will have a lot to offer potential employers. I encourage my clients to stay current with smart phones, tablets and technological advances. If employers feel you have the basic technology skills necessary to start right away, it increases your employment opportunities.
After a few years in the workplace, the world will look a lot different and your career aspirations may be clearer. That might be right time to think about earning a professional degree.
Gerald Bradshaw is a top US college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting.
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