Post College Plans
The question I most often get asked by readers of my HT column is about what to do after college – MA, MBA, work experience? As I see it, these queries stem from 2 different situations – 1. Students who joined a course in a subject, which, after 3 years of study, they have discovered they do not enjoy, and they do not want to pursue higher studies or work in the same field; and 2. Students who want to pursue a route consistent with their college studies, but who do not feel they have enough experience or knowledge to get the job they want after college.
The good news is that most international, post-graduate programs are flexible in who they accept – i.e. whether you studied engineering, science or journalism, you can still pursue an MBA. The discouraging news is that most traditional business school programs abroad, unlike those in India, require a minimum of 2 years of work experience, and top programs average between 3 to 5 years. It is nearly impossible to be admitted to a reputable business school abroad without work experience.
But if a graduate does not want to work in the field they have studied and cannot work in a field in which he or she is has an interest but no educational background, there are a couple of interesting options. First, there is the Master’s in Management (MiM) also called Masters of Management Studies (MMS) or MSc in Management. MiM degree programs have been established by several brand name universities abroad such as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Warwick Business School. The programs are typically designed to add a business dimension to the skill set of students who have not studied business during their undergraduate years. Graduates of MiM programs are usually required to have little or no work experience upon entry and should not have studied business as undergraduates. Upon completion, MiM graduates are generally placed in roles slightly more senior than fresh graduates, but below MBA graduates.
However a total shift to business studies is not for everyone. A lot of students also wonder how their post graduate education can broaden their undergraduate interest, yet they do not want to commit to the pursuit of a Ph.D. or research-based Master’s degree. For these cases, there are some exciting programs to parlay their intersests into a marketable career path. These programs are called P.S.M.’s or “Professional Science Master’s.” The New York Times reported that the number of P.S.M programs almost doubled between 2008 and 2010. The P.S.M. degree combines post-graduate study of math or science with business management and offers a bright career path as employers increasingly require technical knowledge in business roles. In these programs you can combine an interest in biotechnology or environmental science with lessons in project management and communication. P.S.M.’s are offered at several well-known universities in the US and a few in Europe. Northeastern University had a recent class where 68 of the total 154 students were from India.
As business becomes more interdisciplinary and education remains subject-based, post-graduate programs that teach students how to effectively combine the two will add the most value to student career paths. Students seem to worry that a lack of enthusiasm for chosen subjects means there is something wrong with them. But they should not despair – studying for 20+ years does precious little to prepare graduates for the workforce. Master’s programs that help build a bridge between academic knowledge and skills needed to develop a successful career offer practical solutions. Furthermore, these programs should encourage students who have a passion for less “professional” subjects, such as sociology or literature, but worry they will have no career options. You never know – study philosophy, follow-up with a MiM degree and you maybe become a successful book store owner, museum curator or investment banker in the future.