Can an MBA help my career shift from IT to the automotive sector?
I have three years' experience in the IT sector, but have always been interested in shifting to the automotive sector.
Can I use an MBA to make the shift? How, and how can I make a strong application with this goal in mind?
This week's Applicant Question is answered by Dr. Karin Ash, admissions consultant at Accepted
The good news is that, yes, you will benefit from earning an MBA to transition from IT to the automotive sector.
The challenge for you will be to communicate to the admissions committee how you will manage that transition.
Below are five key tips:
1. Convey your employment goals
Members of admissions committees do not want to take unnecessary risks on admitting applicants who may face difficulty in finding employment upon graduation.
MBA schools are ranked, among many other factors, by the percentage of graduates who secure employment within three months after graduating.
The committee will read your statement of purpose and look for solid reasons for your stated career goals and the work experience and skill set that supports those goals. Then they will be reassured that your “story” adds up, that your goals are reasonable given your background.
2. Leverage your background
As you well know, the automotive industry has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.
Most cars today, even those that are not self-driving, depend on computer technology. In fact, many cars include a computer screen where all of the critical data is located.
Your IT background is ideal to the industry. What you need to show in your essay is that you understand the needs of the industry and how you can provide value to lead them into the next generation of automobiles.
You also need to reveal your passion for the industry. When did you first become interested in cars? What motivates you? What drives your interest? How do you want to have an impact on the industry?
3. Know the program you apply to inside-out
It is also critical that for each school application you explain how that particular program will facilitate your transition.
You will want to cite the courses, faculty, research, internship opportunities, student organizations that will provide you with the skills and experiences you need.
You will want to be specific on the area of business that will become your focus. Within the automotive industry, do you want to specialize in operations, supply chain, marketing, finance, or managing the IT division?
Again, it’s important to discuss your vision—what do you see yourself doing for the first five years after graduation, and in twenty years?
The first five years should be clearer and more concrete, including your target industry and job function: the twenty year goal can be more visionary.
4. Learn from people in your new industry
To write a substantive essay you may need to reach out to individuals working in the automotive industry to learn more about the courses you should think about taking and the skills you need to develop to be successful.
You can speak with alumni from your undergraduate institution who are in the industry. In the process, you will be developing a potentially helpful network of people who can assist you in obtaining internships and eventually a full-time job.
Think of every contact you make before entering school and during your MBA program as a possible link to learn about job opportunities.
Stay in touch with your contacts, providing updates on your school experiences and sending them articles that may interest them. In other words, be a good colleague and not just limit your interactions to how they can help you.
5. Remember to keep your options open
Finally, while you may very well continue on the path that you believe you want to take as of this moment, it’s possible that—once you are enrolled and are exposed to courses, peers, new ideas—you may change your mind about your career direction.
A 2017 US News article cites a Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) study that revealed 52% of MBA alumni work in a different industry than they did prior to school.
And, two out of five alumni work in a career they hadn’t even considered prior to business school.
So, while it’s important to have a focus and direction, keep an open mind—earning an MBA experience is a unique, intense and very rich experience.
Next week you'll have a chance to ask Sophie Schaefer, career adviser and corporate relations manager at ESMT Berlin, anything you want about getting into business school.
Sophie provides career coaching and guidance to MBA students and alumni, covering topics like personal and professional development, networking, job applications, and interview technique.
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