Jobs clinic - May 2009 Q&A

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If you are an MBA student wanting an internship, or a company hoping to recruit an MBA intern, get the latest news and views from the FT’s monthly online Jobs Clinic.

This month’s FT Jobs Clinic took place on Wednesday May 20 between 2pm and 3pm BST. Answering questions this month, on http://www.ft.com/businesseducation/jobsclinic/may2009, are Bruce Lane, Vice-President of MBA Focus, the US-based recruitment organisation, and Rosie Innes, Associate Director of Career Services at Iese Business School in Madrid and Barcelona. Iese offers one of the few two-year MBA programmes in Europe.

If you wish to submit a question for the next Jobs Clinic, please post a question now to ask@ft.com or use the online submissions form below. To find out the date of the next Jobs Clinic, please visit http://www.ft.com/businesseducation in the middle of June 2009.


What are the future growth areas where MBA graduates can potentially expect job growth?

Mohsin Baig, Glasgow

Bruce Lane: I believe future job growth for MBA graduates will be in the areas of health care, biotech, energy (green, sustainability, new) and accounting. Entrepreneurial opportunities for MBA graduates are also becoming more prevalent. Opportunities in Consulting, Marketing, Supply Chain and Technology will also be available, although not as many as in the past.

Rosie Innes: We see two fundamental areas where MBA Graduates can expect potential job growth. One is the Energy, both oil gas and renewable energy. With renewable energy, until now it has been technology driving the business - as technology in these areas matures, having strong business skills to develop the business will define each company’s success in the market. The other area of growth is emerging markets. As OECD countries’ markets become saturated, growth will come from developing business in these markets. Initially the growth focus has been with the BRIC block (Brazil, Russia, India China) but increasingly other emerging economies as well.

I am going to start a part-time executive MBA in December 2009. My background as a manager in construction industry has left me with virtually no options for scholarships or sponsorships for my MBA. Added to this, is my overseas status... I have somehow managed to procure funding for fees through loans but I would definitely be grateful if I get an opportunity to obtain an internship or a list of companies hoping to recruit an MBA intern. My interaction with such companies will allow me to manage expectations from both sides.

Anish Deshchougule, London

Bruce Lane: Over the past several years, part-time students have received more services from their school’s Career Services office. I would check with your program to determine the type of career services available to you. You also may wish to ask if/how part-time students can be included in on-campus internship recruiting or if that is reserved for full-time students.

How do you recommend conducting a job search in the field of sustainable investing? Have you seen demand for MBAs from this field?

Bailey A. Stoler, Ithaca, NY

Bruce Lane: Green or Sustainable jobs are becoming more relevant but are not yet that numerous. This is also true of sustainable investing. There are a few career sites and job boards that cater to green/sustainable opportunities. Over the next several years there will be more opportunities for MBA students in the green/sustainable area as demand grows.

Rosie Innes: The MBA is certainly an attractive qualification in the field of sustainable investing but it wont guarantee getting you a job in the field. Prior work experience in financial services is seen as far more essential than the MBA degree itself. Sustainable investing is still very much a niche market. In terms of how people get jobs in this field, it works far more strongly on the basis of networking than on companies coming on campus to recruit. Hence would recommend three things in terms of going about your job search:

1) If you don’t have the background (or even if you do), join an investment bank or stockbroker in a mainstream MBA position and, once in (and having acquired the necessary skills / experience required for the position), network your way towards the department that deals with sustainable investing;

2) If you already have the skills and background, talk to as many people working in the field as you can. Do this effectively: do your research beforehand so that you can use that information to sell your skills and knowledge when you speak to them.

3) Consider joining the investor relations department of a large corporation. They are increasingly having to submit information to sustainable investment firms and this experience could prove valuable to a sustainable investment firm at a later stage.

I'm currently studying for an MBA and am in the process of organising an internship. Before starting my programme I was working in Marketing but I'm now keen to change sectors. I'm particularly interested in working in consultancy. So far I'm finding it hard to get an internship in this sector. Should I hold out for the right internship or revert back to marketing for the time being and hope to find a consulting job once I graduate?

Gem, Barcelona

Rosie Innes: There has been a marked shrinkage in the number of opportunities available in consulting this year. At this point see two options. First, is to go for a less well known consultancy - either a small local firm or a niche player - firm focussed on marketing assignment for instance. An internship with them will give you exposure to working methodology and developing the necessary skills. This will allow you to put some consulting experience on your CV. The second is, as you say revert back to marketing, ideally with a well recognized firm.

Consulting firms are renown for taking people from all sorts of backgrounds. Generally speaking, while the internship can be a stepping stone for those changing careers, consulting firms will not be taking a decision on whether they would like to hire you full-time on the basis of a 3 month project. Your background prior to doing the MBA will be far more significant to them. Factors such as academic excellence, the level of the company/ies you worked for and career progression within the same firm will carry more weight than what you did during your internship.

Bruce Lane: Great question. Career switching in this economic environment is tough. The MBA program helps level the playing field but there is still more competition for a fewer number of jobs. Companies tend to look for candidates with a background that best fits their need. This is also true for internship opportunities. Here are a couple of options to consider:

1. Look for a consulting job where your marketing background can be an asset. There are consulting firms that specialize in marketing.

2. Look for a consulting opportunity at a Marketing firm or inside the marketing department of a large organization.

3. Find an opportunity to do consulting work pro bono at least to get experience. If neither of these options works out, I would opt for an internship in marketing so at least you have something to put on your resume and discuss with recruiters.

I have recently done my MBA from the University of Aberdeen Business School. Prior to this, I completed my undergraduate in Business Studies. I was thinking of doing a PhD in Management as I want to work for a consultancy firm. I am 23 years old and not sure which area of management to choose for the PhD

Arsalan Shah

Bruce Lane: You are not alone in your desire to enrol in a PhD program. Many programs have seen a 40% increase in applications this year. And, nearly a third of PhD graduates will work in private industry and consulting. The area of management to chose depends on what area of consulting you are considering. Finding a program with a discipline in Strategy would be your safest bet but getting a PhD in Finance or General Management are also good options.

What role do you think social networks will play in recruiting top talent in the future?

Marina Gordon, unknown

Bruce Lane: Social networks are becoming an important part of the overall recruiting strategy for companies today. Companies need to identify and attract candidates in more virtual ways than in the past. Many are using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to brand their organization to potential employees, post jobs and/or recruit passive candidates. I believe this trend will continue especially as the job market improves.

Rosie Innes: Social networks are certainly currently playing a role in official recruitment. Recruiters tell me that they check applicant’s profiles and have also used them to identify potential candidates. As people see the importance of social networks and hence condition the information placed, I have my doubts whether this will continue to be the case. My impression is that recruiters will continue to source top talent on the basis of referrals by their own employees, applications or through advertising their opportunities where there is a recognized talent pool.

More than a place where official recruitment takes place, I see increased opportunity for people to get jobs in the so called hidden market. Social networks already hugely enhance people’s capability to identify the ideal people to network with a view to learning about a given sector / function or discussing job opportunities.

I am interested in studying for an MBA that includes an internship with an NGO. Please, do you know of any business schools that delivers such a programme? What are the prospects like for MBA graduates who wish to work for NGOs?

Bruce Lane: More MBA students are considering internships and full-time opportunities with non-profits and NGOs - not sure if this is strictly due to the economy or the fact that they have a strong social awareness. Opportunities with NGOs will become more available through on-campus recruiting but you may also need to spend time networking on your own to find the best fit.

Rosie Innes: Every year we have a lot of internship opportunities with NGOs - usually more than students are willing to fill, given that most are unpaid. Doing an internship with an NGO will certainly not undermine the value of your CV. Companies looking at candidates for full-time positions value the NGO experience like any project you may undertake with a corporate: they will be looking at project content but also at other factors which may denote adaptability to different cultures, cross-cultural management skills or resilience.

In terms of job prospects with NGOs, over the past 7 years I have seen an increasing level of business expertise in the way these organizations are run, and a greater appreciation of how business graduates can help them operate in a more effective manner and hence accomplish their mission better. Large organizations are increasing their intake of employees with a business rather than technical background (irrigation engineers, health or educational experts, etc). That said, work experience is still important: functional expertise is looked for as well as previous experience in developing countries, languages, as well as a proven motivation for their mission. Salary is still a challenge for attracting talent to the sector though again, I have seen that there is a gradual increase in the salaries being offered.

Is it worth studying for an MBA in this current economic climate? Will it be worth the time and investment considering fees are so high? Also, what are the differences between a one year and two year MBA?

Bruce Lane: Regardless of the economic climate, what you learn in an MBA program and the network you build are very valuable. You need to look at the ROI of the MBA over your entire career not just the first several years after graduation to determine its worth. You also need to determine why you want to get your MBA and what you intend to do with it.

Rosie Innes: Studying an MBA is always useful in terms of developing business skills and concepts as well as the experience of spending time with people from over 45 countries and different business backgrounds. When the market gets tough, you need to be even better qualified. That said, an MBA has never been a ticket to all job opportunities. If you want marketing for an FMCG you are better off joining them directly. This is the same whether there is an economic downturn or not. Differences between a one year and two year is essentially that the two year provides more opportunity to develop yourself and explore the opportunities out there.

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