What MBA Alumni Say

You may still be wondering if the MBA is a good value to you. You have read articles and looked at some schools, but you would like to have insider knowledge about the value of an MBA degree. What if you could talk to some recent MBA graduates and alumni and learn what they think about the value of the degree? Are they satisfied with what they learned and with the jobs they are doing? What would they do differently if they could?

Twice a year the Graduate Management Admission Council surveys MBA alumni who have been in the post-MBA job market for one to five years to find out what they think about their MBA degree and what it is doing for them in their careers.

In general, MBA alumni report higher salaries than before they earned the MBA, high rates of job satisfaction, confidence that they did the right thing by earning an MBA, and satisfaction with the career opportunities that their MBA skills bring. This article summarizes key findings from the 2005 MBA Alumni Perspectives Survey.

Alumni on Post-MBA Employment

Job Satisfaction, Placement, and Advancement

The majority of MBA alumni are pleased with their jobs and their career progression since leaving business school. Most would strongly recommend their job, would decide without hesitation to take the same job if they had to make the decision again, and say their jobs are very much like the jobs they wanted after graduating from business school.

Forty-one percent of the MBA alumni got their first post-MBA job after graduating from business school. Thirty percent worked for their post-MBA employer during business school, and another 11% had an internship or work project with their post-MBA employer. Five percent of the alumni were self-employed when they graduated.

Overall, 38% of the alumni one to five years out of business school have received at least one promotion in their current job since graduation, and nearly a quarter of that percentage has received three or more. The average salary increases reported ranged from 10% for graduates with one year of post-MBA employment to 27% for graduates with four years of post-MBA employment.

Most MBA alumni say they could not have gotten their current jobs without the management education training they received as part of their MBA degree.

The Why, Where, and What of Alumni Jobs

MBAs both immediately before graduation and a few years out of school consistently cite the same top factors for taking their post-MBA jobs and staying in them: opportunities to learn new things, job autonomy, challenging work, and opportunities for advancement.

Alumni say the most important MBA skills they use on the job are the following:

• Interpersonal skills
• The ability to integrate information
• Oral communication skills
• The ability to think analytically

The large majority of MBA alumni work in their countries of citizenship (80%). Sixty-six percent works for multinational companies, 18% work in national companies, and 17% work in regional or local companies.

The following list shows what percentage of MBAs is working in various major industries:

• 22% work in products and services
• 20% work in finance and accounting
• 15% work in the technology industry
• 14% work in the consulting industry
• 8% work in manufacturing
• 8% work in the healthcare or pharmaceuticals industry
• 8% work in the nonprofit or government industry
• 3% work in energy and utilities

Satisfaction with MBA Choices and the MBA

Most alumni say they definitely made the right decision about pursuing their MBA degree (75%). They were less sure about their choice of schools; 53% said they definitely made the right decision about their schools, and 36% said they probably did. Eleven percent said they probably or definitely did not make the right decision.

With regard to choosing the right type of programme (e.g., full-time, part-time, or executive), the large majority of MBA alumni”78%”say they definitely did. Finding the right MBA concentration is another matter; only 55% say they definitely chose the right concentration, and 37% say they probably did. This result suggests that these alumni may not have had a good enough sense of what they wanted to do with their degrees when they chose their concentrations.

MBA alumni generally express a high level of satisfaction with the benefits they gained from their graduate management education. They express the most satisfaction with the following five benefits of the MBA:

• The opportunity to improve personally
• gaining desired credentials
• An increase in career options (this is historically the number-one reason people go for an MBA)
• Development of management and technical skills
• Preparation to get a good job in the business world

What They Would Have Done Differently What You Can Do Better

We asked the MBA alumni what knowledge and skills they wish they had acquired (or acquired to a greater extent) as part of their MBA education. In retrospect, MBA alumni say they wish they had received more education or training in the following areas:

• managing their careers
• conducting financial analysis and preparing budgets
• developing a strategic plan
• developing their networking skills
• recruiting, managing, and maintaining staff

These hindsight observations by MBA alumni can help you make better educational choices in your MBA programme so you will have fewer or, we hope, no regrets about what you should have learned when you were in school.

The good news for the alumni is that MBA learning never stops; with new degree and non degree programmes being offered all the time by business schools and corporations, MBA graduates can gain the knowledge and skills they need to continually stay ahead of the knowledge curve in their jobs and industries.

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