How to narrow down a career with an MBA

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A Master of Business Administration degree can take students in a variety of directions after graduation. The management-specific skills and knowledge cultivated by program participants can be applied to a wide variety of contexts, from health services and marketing to an untold number of other industries and positions. Beyond the focus of the MBA program on leadership, there’s no specific career path or industry that graduates are expected to enter. Instead, they have a wide range of potential opportunities.

The many different opportunities associated with an online MBA degree are certainly an advantage for students pursuing this opportunity, but many learners enter the program with specific career options in mind or develop them while in the program. How can those in the MBA program narrow down their choices and focus on the areas of the economy and roles that are the most relevant, interesting, and potentially rewarding? Narrowing down a career path is an important part of making the most of an MBA degree.

Strategies for narrowing a career path with an MBA

A student reviewing course material at an outdoor table.

Draw on past experiences

There are a variety of different strategies for prospective and current students to consider as they determine what their post-graduation career plans will be. One of the simplest and most direct is to consider past work experiences and research career paths and topics connected to past roles. For example, an especially enjoyable previous role in a specific field — whether information technology, life sciences, marketing, or something entirely different — can help students choose where to focus their job search upon graduation. Although the specific roles being sought out by MBA holders will be more advanced than the positions held before earning a master’s-level education, specifics related to those industries can remain attractive throughout a career.

Engage in self-led research

Independent research is also an important concept to consider. It’s impossible to gain firsthand exposure to all industries and roles, so learning more about the basics of a given role through online searches and conversations with contacts in a specific industry can go a long way toward steering graduates. It’s a simple enough task to seek out more information, but it’s a vital first step for narrowing potential career choices and finding an option that makes the most sense for individual skill sets, desires, and competencies.

Leverage new and existing contacts

One of the strengths of an MBA program is the networking opportunities participants enjoy as they form relationships with educators and fellow students. Current program participants can turn to their professors as well as students who have already graduated. Students can also consider the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s broader alumni network and the school’s Career Center as resources for learning more about potential positions and the specifics of a variety of career roles.

Consider career path assessments

Outside testing can help students and graduates alike determine their specific interests, abilities, and priorities in a way that self-reflection can’t. While reaching a personal consensus is always a critical consideration for students and graduates, a dependable testing protocol can reveal reasons why a certain career path can be a great fit. That’s true even when a specific field might not have ever been a consideration. Certain testing programs are widely used by institutions offering MBA degrees to help students gain more perspective on potential career paths. Investing the relatively small amount of time required, often just a few hours or less, pays off by providing a new and insightful perspective on possible employment options.

Utilize the concentrations in the UAB MBA program

With a potential career path in mind, students can use the UAB MBA program to further define their preferred area of focus and develop relevant skills. The curriculum includes four concentrations, along with the more basic general track. Students can choose to learn more about finance, marketing, management information systems, and health services. This quartet of specializations ties into a far greater number of specific careers and roles. Whether a program participant wants to take a leadership role in a highly technical aspect of IT or focus on general leadership and business-focused decision-making in the healthcare world, opportunities to learn more about these fields are a key component of the overall MBA experience offered by UAB.

Students who choose to participate in a concentration benefit from an additional nine credit hours of courses targeted squarely to their chosen field. That includes traditional classes as well as directed study options in both the marketing and health services concentrations that allow students to choose a relevant topic not covered in an existing course. The benefits of combining a strong, general MBA education with more targeted learning lead to students who have a grasp of broadly applicable management principles as well as more unique skills and knowledge tied to their chosen profession.

Graduating from UAB with your career-focused MBA

An MBA degree that gives students relevant industry experience is a major asset, no matter the specific post-graduation plans or first role taken on by a student. This kind of focused learning is beneficial on its own. Combined with the asynchronous learning environment offered by UAB’s MBA online degree program, the high-quality faculty and ability to structure higher education around an existing schedule, students realize a variety of advantages that help them do the most with their degree. To learn more, get in touch with an enrollment advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

What sets the online program at UAB apart from the rest?

What is the general industry outlook for MBA graduates?

Sources:

UAB Student Affairs: Career and Professional Development

MBA.com: Decide on Your Career Path

UAB Collat School of Business: Course Descriptions MBA

UAB Collat School of Business: Online MBA Degree Program

UAB Collat School of Business: Brochure