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09 Dec

Exploring MBA Career Paths: A Timeline

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While no two MBA career paths may be exactly the same, it can still be productive to consider some general advice for maintaining a healthy upward trajectory. It’s likely that if you are considering an MBA, you already have some idea of how you would like the degree to impact your career, whether that be in terms of a more advanced title, a pivot into a different in industry, new skills and relevant knowledge, or all of the above. But how do you get there from here? And what are some of the major checkpoints along the way at which you should take a moment to ensure that you’re still on track to achieving your goals?

Check out the timeline below for some guidelines for designing a successful MBA career path both during and after your time in business school. Learn how to navigate your career options to help you reach your dream job in a matter of years.

Before Business School: Outline the Big Picture

The first step on a successful MBA career path is to choose the right MBA program. If you know what industry you want to work in upon graduation, try to research which business schools are highly ranked in that particular field. And think about other elements of the school’s reputation as well to see if it might be a good fit for you. The Albers School of Business and Economics at Seattle University, for instance, specializes in an ethically centered, communication-driven approach to business education, and would be a business school to explore if you value cross-functional collaboration highly.

Consider the delivery method of your MBA education as well. An MBA program offered entirely or partially online might be ideal if you are worried about disrupting your current career momentum by taking time off to attend business school. Seattle University’s Online MBA program is designed for working professionals who do not wish for their career path to contain any interruptions.

During Business School: Aim High and Be Practical

As you begin your program, start thinking with more specificity about your long-term career goal and what a path to it with some realistic stops along the way would look like. Do you aspire to rise to the c-suite at a well-known organization? Start thinking about potential job opportunities that could propel you toward an executive track, and approach your MBA coursework with the intention of developing skills and knowledge to qualify you for them. Or do you hope to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur? In that case, take your coursework as an opportunity to start refining your big ideas, as well as a chance to build a network that could help support your future endeavors.1

Keep an eye out for promising career options that may arise during this time. In many MBA programs, it’s conventional to take part in an internship between your first and second years that could lead to the offer of a full-time position down the road. Alternatively, if you are working full time throughout business school, you might take the midpoint of your program as a chance to meet with your supervisor at work and discuss what the future may hold for you. If your goal is to advance within your organization, try to set benchmarks at this time for a potential title or role change that you can earn upon graduation.

At Graduation: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

Congratulations! You’ve earned your MBA and set yourself up for an exciting, lucrative new career path. If your plan is to stay at your current organization, now is the time to meet once again with your manager to assess whether you’ve met the goals you laid out a year ago. If everything has gone to plan, you should be in line for the promotion you previously discussed, and you should have a firm timeline in place for making that change a reality.

If you’re more interested in seeking a new opportunity, explore the career development resources offered by your business school or university. Seattle University’s Online MBA program connects its students to networking forums, job board, company and career informational databases, and more. An MBA program that is truly looking out for you will do everything it can to help you understand your career options and set you on the right path for you.

Remember to be focused but bold when planning your first new role. The moment after graduating from an MBA program, equipped with the new skills and knowledge you have just spent several years mastering, is likely the best time you will have to make a significant positive change in your career trajectory. Make sure the first job you take after earning your MBA is one that puts you on exactly the career path you desire.2

Three Years Out and Beyond: Keep Climbing

By the time you are three years beyond your MBA graduation, you should be seeing some real advancement. The average MBA graduate sees a salary increase of $70,000 three years after completing the degree,3 and a pay increase this significant should accompany a significant uptick in title and responsibilities.

And wherever you find yourself at the three year mark, keep in mind that your MBA education has set you up for a rapid ascent toward your dream role. By some accounts, an MBA degree is the equivalent of five years of job experience, which gives you a crucial leg up if you are striving to reach the c-suite.4 And if your career path has led you into the uncharted territory of an entrepreneurial venture, the foundation of leadership skills and business acumen that you built during your MBA coursework should be paying off by minimizing your mistakes and accelerating your progress.


Your MBA Career Path Starts at Albers

The Albers School of Business and Economics is committed to the holistic development of all its business students, offering personal growth and professional development in equal measure to help you truly thrive on your chosen career path. Our Online MBA program trains empathetic, communicative leaders with the decision-making mindset necessary to overcome any business challenge.


1 Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/articles/2016-08-26/3-reasons-future-entrepreneurs-need-an-mba-and-1-exception
2 Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2016/04/11/navigating-your-career-journey-after-the-mba
3 Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from ft.com/content/a2813230-d69b-11e7-a303-9060cb1e5f44
4 Retrieved on November 19, 2019, from shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/organizational-and-employee-development/pages/how-do-you-rise-to-the-c-suite-linkedin-research-offers-some-clues.aspx