What Should MBA (and other college) Graduates Expect From Their Degrees?

Nearly 7 years ago, I was asked the following question by BusinessWeek Online reporter Francesca Di Meglio: “What advice do you have for those who are undecided about getting an MBA?” The column was posted on Business Week Online (May 23, 2005.)

Despite the passing of time and The Great Recession interrupting and derailing many career paths, my advice to college students and young adults would remain much the same.

Below is an excerpt of the interview with a link to the full column at the bottom of the post.

Graduation Career Choices - MBA?Ira Wolfe is founder of Success Performance Solutions, a 10-year-old consulting firm in Lancaster, Pa., that offers career and pre-employment testing. At 44, after realizing that dentistry was not for him, he dabbled in consulting and discovered self-assessment tests. He soon decided that his life’s work would be to help others discover their passion. (I would note that my business is really helping employers hire people who fit the job and company culture. That purpose, of course, requires understanding what each employee values and if and how the company can meet his need. Without meeting the need, low engagement, low productivity, and high turnover generally results.

Q: What advice do you have for those who are undecided about getting an MBA?

The first question I would ask is, “What do you hope the MBA will do for you?” It’s certainly a requirement just to get your foot in the door for some jobs, but many people go after degrees without really knowing why they decided to pursue education in the first place.

Q: What should MBA students do to prepare for the job search?

A: You should think through your career path. Getting an MBA doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in a knowledge-based economy. [Students] need to look at the MBA as a way for improving their knowledge base and translating that into tangible skills.  Walk through some questions: What do you want to achieve? What are your expectations? What is it about that MBA that will allow you to be unique? How will this job make you a better employee and person?

Q: Are self-assessment tests a necessity?

A: Absolutely, they are. Intellectually, many people understand what they want but aren’t sure about the emotional factors — is this going to be a satisfying career? We help people realize whether they want to work in a large or small company, the industries that interest them, how well they will fit into different organizations.

These self-assessments look at their skills but also their communication style, ability to be a team player, preferences on company size, and the kinds of organization they would like to manage. You can be an MBA working at a small family-owned business and feel exhilarated or you can be CEO of a major corporation and be very unhappy. It depends on the person.

Read the full interview on BusinessWeek Online.

Searching for the Right Career? Visit the SPS Career Test Center.


Ira S Wolfe