Home Online Business Blog Maximizing MBA Graduate Potential: Skills, Strategies and Opportunities for Career Advancement

Maximizing MBA Graduate Potential: Skills, Strategies and Opportunities for Career Advancement

07 Dec
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The demand for business and finance professionals has been rising steadily. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that approximately 911,400 new jobs will open annually in these fields between 2022 and 2032.1 Many of these positions—especially high-paying leadership roles—require a master of business administration (MBA) degree.

An MBA enhances your resume and allows you to develop your business acumen further. But you shouldn’t rely on this degree alone for career advancement. The business job market can be highly competitive due to the popularity of MBA programs. In 2022, around 250,000 people were enrolled in MBA programs, according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.2

This article explores essential strategies and skills you can develop to stand out, achieve work-life balance, realize your career aspirations and unlock career advancement as an MBA graduate.

Embrace Skills Development for Career Advancement

According to a 2022 study by the Harvard Business Review, companies increasingly prioritize social skills when hiring employees for C-suite jobs and other leadership roles. You can prepare for career advancement by pursuing skills development in these areas:3

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making
  • Empathy
  • Leadership and management

Navigating the Job Market as an MBA Graduate

An MBA can boost your credibility, but it doesn’t guarantee a job. A 2023 survey by Intelligent.com found that 68% of MBA students don’t have a full-time job when they graduate.4 Choosing an MBA program that demonstrates alumni have found career success beyond graduation is important. You can also use the following strategies to navigate the job market.

Understand Job Market Trends

Research the latest job market trends in your chosen industry to learn about in-demand careers and roles. The BLS provides job outlook projections for the next decade. You can also join professional organizations and browse postings on job websites to stay updated on current hiring trends.

Leverage Networking Strategies

According to a 2022 study of LinkedIn users, networking with acquaintances and other “weak ties” increases job mobility.5 Effective networking strategies include:

  • Connecting with other professionals over social media
  • Reaching out to alumni
  • Attending networking events or industry events, such as conferences
  • Learning how to leverage virtual networking strategies

Use Personal Branding for Professional Success

Personal branding can help you demonstrate your expertise and stand out from other applications. Here are some strategies for personal branding:6

  • Define your unique value proposition, such as your interests and skills
  • Create an online presence with a personal website that highlights your talents
  • Use the same color scheme, logo and messaging on your website, social media and other materials

Explore Career Paths and Specializations for MBAs

An MBA is a versatile degree that you can use to pursue a broad range of careers, such as:7

  • Traditional corporate roles: Many businesses employ MBAs as asset managers, financial analysts and other roles
  • Consulting: Consultants help companies improve their operations and performance
  • Startups: Tech firms and other startups hire MBAs in managerial roles
  • Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs use their business expertise to launch their own company

Pursue Continuing Education and Skill Enhancement to Meet Career Goals

The business landscape evolves rapidly. A lifelong commitment to learning ensures your skills stay relevant and position yourself as a strong candidate for advancement opportunities. You can learn about the latest industry developments by participating in conferences and professional development training opportunities like seminars and workshops. Additionally, you can pursue advanced certifications and specialized courses in niche areas, such as digital marketing, business strategy and project management, to set yourself up for long term success.

Identify Mentors and Mentorship Programs

Mentorship programs offer many benefits for MBA graduates. The right mentor can provide career advice, networking strategies and emotional support.8

Many MBA programs and professional associations offer mentorship programs for students. You can also search for a mentor by attending professional events and contacting older colleagues. Once you’ve found a suitable mentor, you can establish a productive relationship by communicating regularly and setting clear expectations for what you hope to achieve during your meetings.

Maintain Work-Life Balance as an MBA Graduate

Some careers for MBAs can be fast-paced and time-consuming. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can help you manage stress and avoid burnout. Techniques to balance your priorities include:9

  • Practicing self-care by exercising, eating healthy and socializing
  • Setting clear boundaries, such as not answering emails at night
  • Taking regular vacations and mental health days to destress

Find a New Career Path: Entrepreneurship Opportunities

According to a 2021 study by Illuminate Ventures, over 80% of MBA students want to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities.10 Launching a business can be a complex process, but essential steps include:11

  • Conducting market analysis to identify entrepreneurship opportunities
  • Creating a business plan to outline your goals and financial projections
  • Seeking venture capital funding from investors or applying for a small business loan

Networking with startup founders and searching for mentors with expertise in this area can help you learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship.

Thrive in the Global Business Landscape

Changes in the global business landscape have led to new career opportunities for MBA graduates. Notably, the rise of remote work and other technological advancements has made pursuing careers in other countries possible. For instance, you might work as a remote business consultant for European clients.

Additionally, business professionals must navigate new challenges, including increasingly diverse and multicultural work environments. Here are some strategies for developing cultural competence:12

  • Critically reflect on your biases and how they impact your decision-making
  • Educate yourself on different cultures and their norms
  • Use active listening to understand your colleagues’ perspectives

Case Studies of Successful MBA Graduates

You can learn strategies for career advancement by studying the journeys of successful MBA graduates. Here are some famous leaders with this degree:13

  • Tim Cook used his business expertise to help Apple grow into a leading tech company
  • Mary T. Barra’s MBA helped her climb the ladder at General Motors to become the company’s first female CEO
  • Marvin Ellison was the first African American CEO of J.C. Penney and currently serves as the CEO of Lowes

Prepare for Career Advancement Opportunities With an Online MBA Program

Leverage job market trends and gain the skills you need to become a top leader in the global business landscape with William & Mary’s Online MBA program. Online MBA graduates have experienced demonstrable success through their MBA experience:14

  • Over 70% experienced a salary increase within three years of graduation
  • Nearly 50% saw a salary increase of 25% or greater
  • Around 80% received a promotion either during or upon completion of the program

This innovative program at the Raymond A. Mason School of Business revolves around “wicked problems,” or complex business issues. You’ll strengthen your critical thinking and problem-solving skills as you create solutions to these challenges. You’ll learn in-demand business skills by taking Global Managerial Economics, Integrated Technology and other classes. The program also offers a Graduate Career Management Center and networking opportunities to help you with your career advancement and new skills development.

Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today for more information.

  1. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm
  2. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from poetsandquants.com/2022/05/01/in-u-s-online-mba-students-now-exceed-full-time-mbas
  3. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from hbr.org/2022/07/the-c-suite-skills-that-matter-most
  4. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from intelligent.com/two-thirds-of-graduating-mba-students-still-jobless/
  5. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abl4476
  6. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from businessnewsdaily.com/5500-career-success-tips.html
  7. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from mba.com/business-school-and-careers/career-possibilities/mba-jobs-what-can-you-do-with-an-mba
  8. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2023/05/04/the-mentorship-full-circle-help-your-career-and-others-too/
  9. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from health.clevelandclinic.org/work-life-balance/
  10. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from illuminate.com/whitepaper/
  11. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from sba.gov/business-guide/10-steps-start-your-business
  12. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from hbr.org/2021/12/are-you-prepared-to-lead-a-diverse-team
  13. Retrieved on October 6, 2023, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/slideshows/mba-programs-that-trained-fortune-500-ceos?onepage
  14. Based on a limited sample of self-reported data from alumni of W&M’s Online MBA program from graduating cohorts between 2019 and 2022