Students contemplating the pursuit of an MBA degree need to be heedful of rapidly changing dynamics in the business sector. Many students graduating with an MBA degree are finding themselves on the outside looking in. MBA candidates need to analyze the current business climate and choose the right elective courses to land that dream job in the business community.
A poor labor market and a surplus of MBA graduates are leading to fewer opportunities and lower salaries for students earning this professional degree, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
The median salary for recent MBA graduates has flat-lined between the years 2008 and 2011, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council. Graduates with fewer than three years experience saw a median salary of $53,900 in 2012, which is down 4.6 percent from 2008. This downward pressure is especially prevalent for graduates from schools that are less prestigious.
All this is occurring while MBA graduates are assuming greater debt to earn these degrees. A GMAC survey found that the average student debt after graduation had soared to $81,758. This is in comparison to 2007 when the average debt load was $55,594.
MBA Students Must Choose Wisely
Corporate needs are evolving while some MBA programs are stuck in the past and aren’t teaching what the corporate world requires. A trend among employers is to hire undergraduates at lower salaries and train them in-house, said Camille Kelly, the president of Universum, a corporate advisory company. MBA schools that internationalize their studies are leading the way to help graduates land jobs.
In the end, it falls to the MBA candidate to make wise choices in course electives.
Students in business schools tend to focus too much on the short term, according to James Dean, the dean of the Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. In an article in usnews.com, Dean warned students that finance courses may help students in the corporate world initially, but leadership and management will become more important as they climb the executive ladder. Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors, said that many skills can be learned on the job, but people skills are critical.
In addition to leadership, management, and people skills, the following were also identified as wise course electives.
Studying international trends prepares a student to deal with the globalization of business. “I always encourage business students to take elective courses that expand their geographic scope,” said Duncan McCampbell, a professor and director of the MBA program at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn. Courses to consider are global technology management and international laws and regulations.
The corporate trend is to embrace professional and ethical business practices, and more and more MBA programs either offer, or even require, enrolled students to take them. Much of the material may seem like common sense, but it never hurts to get a reminder on the difference between right and wrong, even in the business world.
Few like it, but most realize its necessity--the ability to present ideas to others is a critical skill. A skilled manager must make these presentations with both the written and spoken word, making courses in presentation and public speaking absolutely critical for the MBA student.
MBA students must adapt. They need to watch business trends and choose the appropriate elective courses. Globalization in the business world will continue to be a dominant trend in corporations. Understanding these trends will increase the odds of landing that first MBA job.