January 2015

4 Ways an MBA Will Jumpstart Your Consulting Career

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that career opportunities in consulting are expected to grow at a higher-than-average rate between 2010 and 2020. Not only are consulting careers increasingly available, they are also one of the most coveted jobs in the business world, as they provide financial security and a sense of professional achievement. Having a degree is essential to landing one of these competitive careers, and MBA graduates are aggressively pursuing consulting jobs now more than ever. Aspiring consultants may want to earn a master’s degree in business administration which will provide the following four benefits that allow for promising and competitive careers.

jump starts

Qualifies You for High-Paying Jobs

MBA graduates are in high demand by some of the country’s top consulting firms. Even in the midst of a tough economy, starting salaries for MBA graduates continue to grow. Those who have earned an undergraduate degree typically have starting salaries ranging from $60,000 to $70,000, while MBA graduates can expect to earn as much as $135,000 in their first year. MBA graduates are also offered generous signing bonuses at top consulting firms such as Deloitte and Accenture. These companies offer bonuses as high as $35,000 to MBA earners fresh out of college. With MBA graduates in such high demand, it is no surprise that the financial investment of earning an MBA, including all tuition costs, is typically earned back in fewer than four years. The Washington Post reports that the those earning executive MBAs can expect an even quicker return, as the payback period has recently decreased to a meager 17 months.

Gives You an Advantage for Moving up the Ladder

When it comes to consulting, many companies require an advanced degree such as an MBA before they will consider an employee for a promotion or advancement. Even if you are otherwise qualified, senior level managers in charge of approving promotions may not know you on a personal or professional level. In these situations, your resume must speak for itself, and having an MBA is often imperative for proving that you are worthy of moving up the ladder. While an MBA may not guarantee a promotion, it significantly increases the chances of landing high-level positions. Beyond simply writing “MBA” on your resume, a master’s degree in business will give you actual experience that is transferable to the workplace. Through earning an MBA, you will gain specific casework knowledge, become technologically savvy and learn the interpersonal skills that are essential to a career in consulting. All of these qualities will greatly improve your chances of standing out as an employee worthy of earning a promotion.

Helps You Establish Credibility in the Workplace

According to Forbes, establishing your own personal credibility is one of the greatest advantages of investing in an MBA. Having an MBA gives standing to employees in the consulting industry, and those who have pursued this difficult degree have already established a level of integrity and perseverance, as well as a strong work ethic.  Through the process of earning your advanced degree, you will have the opportunity to make connections in the consulting world that will give you an advantage while trying to establish yourself as a credible and competent consultant in the real world.

Provides Opportunities for Hands-On Experience

While working toward your MBA, you will have countless opportunities for hands-on experience with real-world consulting. To get the most out of your advanced degree, take every opportunity to join consulting clubs, attend forums and network with the most reputable firms in the business. MBA programs frequently connect students with alumni who are now working as consultants. Throughout your MBA career, you will have the opportunity to intern for and learn from these consulting companies, giving you a chance to delve into real-world cases. Additionally, MBA programs offer assistance in landing consulting jobs through intensive mock interviews and resume-writing courses. The application and interview process for landing a job in the consulting world is rigorous, and receiving this kind of assistance from knowledgeable professors and businesspeople is invaluable.

To land a job in the highly competitive field of consulting, standing out from the crowd is essential. Consulting firms are recognizing the value of hiring MBA graduates because of their work ethic, knowledge and hands-on experience. Consider pursuing an MBA to give you the additional tools and competitive edge you need to score one of these coveted positions.

Image by Millenia47 from Flickr Creative Commons 

 

About the Author: Tara Jones is a contributing writer. She has worked in the business world for 20 years as a consultant, senior manager and professor.

4 Steps to Becoming an Effective, Sought-After Business Mentor

 business mentor

Mentors are the cheerleaders, the leaders who show new talent the way. They pave the way to success and encourage others to follow in their footsteps — or to go their own paths to achieve individualized successes. A business mentor relationship can be just as rewarding for the mentor as it is for the mentee. Become an effective mentor and give back to the business community. Your guidance can make a real difference.

1. Earn an Advanced Degree

Although there are always exceptions, the majority of mentors in the business world are educated, experienced people with resumes that can hardly be contained on a single page. The higher and more specialized your degree, the more interest you’ll have among people looking for a business mentor.

Demonstrate your extensive knowledge and learn mentoring tips by earning an advanced degree in a program such as organizational development and leadership. With an emphasis on leadership, your graduate program will prepare you for becoming a more-effective mentor, not just to your chosen mentee, but to all of your younger or less-experienced colleagues at your company.

2. Sign Up With an Organization

As a businessperson looking for mentees, you’ve probably had access to a number of worthy candidates in your company or field. However, there are plenty of opportunities for establishing a mentor relationship outside of your network. Volunteer for mentoring through an organization, particularly the ones most relevant to your experience.

The U.S. Small Business Administration  provides resources for a number of government-sponsored mentor organizations, such as Women’s Business Centers and Veteran’s Business Outreach Centers, which are always in search of experienced businesswomen and veteran businesspeople, respectively. With various chapters across the country, these organizations may make you a more sought-after mentor because of your particular expertise. You can also explore organizations exclusive to your community if such places are available.

3. Strive for a Meaningful Relationship

When you choose a mentee, try to establish a meaningful connection. This doesn’t mean you have to find someone at the same company or in the same industry. A businessperson with ambitions somewhat related to your experience, even if she doesn’t work in the exact field as you, can make as productive a connection with you as someone in your field. For example, if you’re a minority business owner, another minority businessperson striving to start a business will look up to you, even if you work in finance and he wants to start a restaurant.

So long as you find someone who shares the things in business you most value — hard work, taking calculated risks and innovative ideas, for example — the possibility for an effective mentor-mentee relationship is present. Before you establish a long-term relationship, review prospective mentees’ resumes and take them out on an interview meeting. Part of becoming an effective sought-after mentor is realizing you can’t mentor everyone who’s interested because it takes work to create meaningful relationships with those few you choose.

4. Engage in Dynamic Activities

Meeting for coffee or a meal is one way to touch base with your mentees, but it’s not the only or most effective. Do something fun and active with your mentees, and word will get around that you’re not like the other mentors who just occasionally eat with people. Ideas for a mentor-mentee meeting, before, during or after which you can discuss business issues, include:

  • Playing a sports game
  • Attending a conference
  • Going to a theme park
  • Meeting in the park
  • Going camping together
  • Taking kids or grandkids out for a play date

To make sure your legacy lives on after your retirement, you need to do more than just focus on your career and business goals. If you’re interested in leadership, and if you’ve shown talent as a leader, do service to yourself and to the business community at large by becoming a business mentor. Look for mentees in your company, your industry or even in an entirely different field. Wherever there’s a budding young businessperson with drive and a passion to succeed, you’ll find your mentoring talents valued.

 

About the Author: Shonna White is a businesswoman and mentor with over three decades of experience at a Fortune 500 company.

 

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