The job market isn’t what it used to be for MBA students; the days of going back to school with a virtual guarantee of a six-figure job are no more. If we’re being completely honest , there’s no guarantee of any job after going back to school full-time for your MBA.
When I was in business school part-time, things got so bad that Kellogg had to relax its requirement that part-time students maintain full-time employment. That says a lot about the state of the job market. While there are still jobs to be had, many current openings require a specific technical skill set such as statistics or tax, and this shift in the marketplace should inform how you choose your curriculum. Taking classes similar to the ones below (links to course description included in case titles are different) will shift the odds in your favor.
|Photo courtesy of twitter user @clairedemy|
Accounting is a core class but I want to emphasize the importance of not blowing this off as just a requirement to get to the degree. It’s funny to me how many people “hate it” before they’ve even taken an accounting course. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s a reason accounting is referred to as the language of business. You’re doing yourself a disservice as a business person if you don’t understand the fundamentals of accounting. No, I’m not just saying that because I’m a CPA, but the business foundation being a CPA provides is a big part of why I wanted to become one.
Entrepreneurial Finance teaches you how to assess cash flows generated by a business opportunity. While introductory finance also teaches this, entrepreneurial finance eliminates some of the “fluff” associated with textbook answers and limits scope to only the most practical finance techniques and information.
International Finance is a topic that has gone from a “nice to know” to a “must know” due to the fact that the global marketplace is shrinking and thriving in a global economy and requires looking at how markets interact in a completely different way. Dealing with transactions in highly volatile currencies can be an overwhelming task. I saw this recently at a client worked with who refused all intercompany invoices that weren’t in Japanese Yen. He knew this was outside of policy but he had not yet learned the skills to protect himself from foreign currency risk. International finance helps to ensure that you don’t find yourself in this situation.
Empirical Methods is stats on steroids. This course is all about how to handle massive quantities of data. Google “big data” and see what you find. Here is an article from the New York Times discussing the surge in “big data” that is available for consumption and the demand for people who can performance advanced statistical analysis on this data to come up with meaningful, actionable insights. This need is going to continue growing with no end in sight.
Strategy & Organization is one of those “soft” courses that I normally wouldn’t consider a critical course in the business world, but understanding the topics in this type of course sets you up to manage the performance of a business of any size. By taking this type of course, you gain an understanding of how to ensure that incentives are aligned with desired behaviors. Understanding this concept gives you the ability to align and move many people toward a common goal with limited day-to-day management. And who wouldn’t want an army at his/her disposal?
Would you swap out any courses on this list or add to the list? For what it’s worth, a friend of mine said his two most valuable MBA courses were real estate investment analysis and strategy,which I’d argue fits the same overarching theme of the courses above: building strong technical skills of some sort and trying to understand what drives people’s behavior.