In the current climate of coronavirus-related disruption, attending business school seems like a good way to gain the skills I will need to thrive in a quickly changing landscape.
I had originally planned to study an MBA, but this would require waiting for a few years while I gained experience.
Should I stick with the original plan, or consider taking a pre-experience program now?
This week's Applicant Question is answered by Susan Cera, admissions consultant at Stratus Admissions.
If you are just completing your undergraduate degree or in your final year of university, the economic climate may seem daunting.
As such, remaining in school and enhancing your academic profile may be a great option while the global economy recovers.
Depending on what pre-experience business masters you pursue now, you can work for several years then apply to MBA programs later.
The graduate employment landscape
According to a Eurostat report released on July 2, unemployment numbers for young persons (under 25) in the European Union is 15.7%.
Although this is substantially lower than the unemployment rate from 2009 to 2013, it is a sharp increase over the first quarter of 2020.
In the United States, youth (16-24) unemployment skyrocketed from 10.3% in March 2020 to 27.4% in April, and has now dropped to 20.7% in June 2020, according to a July 2 report from Statista.
Needless to say, there are many young adults who are willing and able to work but are not able to find positions.
These numbers don’t even capture those who are under-employed, having taken a ‘lesser’ position in order to be able to pay the rent and pay off student loans.
Many university students who were expecting to be gaining valuable real world experience this summer have had their internship offers rescinded or watched opportunities evaporate during the interview process.
Absent this experience, it may be more challenging to find a position after graduation.
Advantages of a pre-experience masters
If this is your situation, remaining in school for a pre-experience masters could offer an opportunity for an internship next summer or during the academic program—setting you up to be more competitive for even better roles when you complete your masters.
Similarly, recent university graduates may find themselves competing for entry level positions with young professionals who have lost their jobs after a year or two in the workforce.
These individuals may be willing to take a lesser position in order to remain employed, which may result in recent graduates with limited or no experience missing out on opportunities.
If this is the case with you, a pre-experience business masters may be the perfect way to build new skills and knowledge so you are a more competitive candidate for target positions a year from now when the economy is recovering.
There are a number of different types of pre-experience programs to consider. Finding the right fit for you depends on both your academic background and your goals.
Non-business majors looking to land entry level positions in banking, consulting or marketing should take a look at one-year general business masters programs.
These programs attract a diverse class of individuals with humanities and technical majors, often forming a very international cohort.
Top pre-experience Master's programs
The University of St. Gallen’s MA in Strategy and International Management (SIM) is the perennial favorite in Europe. London Business School’s Masters in Management (MiM) is the premier program in the UK.
Although Master’s in Management programs are less widespread in the US, Duke University Fuqua School of Business’ Master of Management Studies (MMS), Michigan Ross’ Master of Management (MM) and UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce’s MS in Commerce are the most highly rated pre-experience programs.
Specialized pre-experience business programs
If you have a targeted goal in finance or analytics, you may want to consider a Master in Finance (MSF or MFin), Master in Business Analytics, or Master in Data Analytics. For the more technically inclined, a Master in Financial Engineering might be the right fit.
Many business schools offer these programs which do not require any formal work experience.
If you have your eyes set on working in a specific industry or function (e.g. healthcare, human capital or supply chain) look for analytics programs that offer a concentration in your area of interest.
Most of these programs offer a STEM designation for individuals who are looking for an OPT extension allowing them to work in the United States for up to three years after graduation.
As a young adult just starting what will likely be a 30 plus year career, think of a pre-experience masters as an investment in your future.
You will likely find that your salary will be higher than if you started your first job right out of university.
If you complete a one-year business masters directly out of undergrad or with just a year or two of work experience, you can still consider an MBA later in your career.
Next week, you'll have the chance to ask Victoria Dudka, admissions consultant at MBA Strategy, anything you want about getting into business school.
Victoria has been working as an admissions consultant since 2013.
Over 200 of her clients have been admitted to top business schools (Kellogg, Tuck, Darden, LBS, INSEAD, Chicago Booth, Columbia), and around 80% of them are international candidates, who applied to MBA programs worldwide.
Preparation for a top school application is a time and effort consuming process, so Victoria supports candidates at every application step by giving expert advice.
Got a question you'd love Victoria to answer? Submit your question