A graduate management degree & your student’s many options

*This article is the second in a series of four, originally written for and published by collegiateparent.com.

When your student first announced an intention to go to graduate school, you were excited for them. You pictured them working on Wall Street, or becoming CEO of a company (down the road, of course). The path seemed clear and the future looked bright.

But now they say they plan to start their own company, going even further into debt. What could they possibly be thinking and how do you talk sense into them??

It’s a great idea to talk with your student about their career goals, but before you begin that conversation you may want to do a little research into the possibilities. A graduate management education offers bountiful opportunities for your student to pursue their passion, and not all those options follow the traditional route one thinks of when picturing life after an MBA degree.

For example, in addition to the “typical” jobs such as financial analyst and investment banker, new graduates can also pursue careers in:

  • Technology: According to the 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report, 84% of tech firms plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2016, and they are also snapping up graduates with masters in accounting, management and finance.

  • Consulting: This area is even more robust — 92% of employers are seeking new MBA grads!

  • Health Care/Pharmaceuticals is a solid 100%. This industry needs and wants MBA graduates.

  • Manufacturing and Energy/Utilities: 92% and 88% respectively of companies in these categories expect to hire MBAs this year.

  • Start-ups: According to a report by Poets & Quants, within three years of graduation, almost 25% of MBA grads have started their own companies.

Regardless of their interest, students pursuing an MBA will learn the management skills they need to be successful in a variety of leadership roles within numerous industries. Which means…they have a lot of options available to them and may need some guidance in understanding how their passions and interests intersect with their education.

This is where you come in. Have that talk with your student, but instead of sharing with them your vision of where an MBA might take them, start with some questions. Ask:

  • What type of environment do you want to work in? Live in?

  • What type of people do you want to surround yourself with?

  • What are some aspects of a job that might be intolerable to you?

  • What have you done in the past that makes you feel valuable?

  • What do you get excited talking about?

  • What role does a job play in the life you picture for yourself?

As your student begins to narrow down their options to what really interests them, you can discuss more specific career paths and share your own ideas about where their advanced degree could lead. Your perspective might spark new considerations for your student.

Throughout your conversations, keep in mind that your role is one of support. The graduate school decision is quite different from applying to college. Your student is four (or more) years further along the road to adulthood and full independence — they know themselves better, are more competent and self-aware, and are used to making decisions on their own.

Regardless of your student’s ultimate decision about how they want to apply their graduate management degree, remember they’re the one who will need to perform this job each day — not you. And while you may be excited about the vast opportunities in finance, if your student’s passion leans toward working with small start-up companies on the cutting edge of new technologies, assessing the performance of stocks and bonds may soon lead to career burn-out for your entrepreneur-at-heart.

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