For many graduate management education students, switching careers is the main reason for choosing to go to business school.
In the era of the gig economy, jobs are viewed less as lifelong paths but rather shorter-term experiences. For business students, the reasons for changing careers are many; 41% of students said that switching was to do with dissatisfaction with their current job; for 33%, switching was about financial discontent.
It’s easy to underestimate the challenge of switching careers—particularly a big change like engineering to business. While the industries are linked, the journey from an engineering job into the world of general management requires specific skills and retraining.
The MBA can provide the skills; a strong support network can really make the difference.
International opportunities in a new industry
Antonella Bared (pictured), following her bachelor’s in civil engineering, advanced quickly up the ranks in the engineering industry in her home country of Lebanon.
As a project coordinator for a transportation firm, Antonella found herself with great responsibility on huge construction projects including the new international airport in Dubai.
Fundamentally, she found the engineering profession to be restrictive.
“I reached a level where I wasn’t learning a lot, and I wanted to learn more about the business world,” Antonella remembers, “Engineering just wasn’t that open to this.”
With this business fascination in mind, it became quickly obvious that an MBA was the best way to make the switch. Accepted at all four schools she applied to, the Global MBA at EDHEC Business School, in Nice in the south of France, stood out for several reasons.
Her grasp of the French language was a strong asset to settling comfortably in France; but it was the international opportunities which stood out most for Antonella on the program.
For each specialized track on the program, there is a study expedition—Antonella traveled to South Africa for the sustainability track, and San Francisco for the entrepreneurship track.
Her initial interest for her role at Schneider was piqued by modules in both marketing and strategy, while support from the CareerSMART service helped her to find her current placement.
As part of the Global MBA, students have allocated a full week of CareerSMART coaching in each semester, when they are offered guidance and support in taking steps towards their future career.
“Once you have a job opportunity, they are always next to you,” Antonella proclaims, “If they know you have an interview, they make they follow up to check if you’ve had a response, what the response was, if it was positive, and if you need anything additional.”
Having graduated, she sees the main benefit of the program as the way it helped her switch careers, now working as a marketing and strategy intern at Schneider Electric in France.
Supported by a strong career service
For Triparna Chakraborty, the MBA wasn’t just about switching careers, but about discovering a different way of working on a new continent.
Hailing from India, she studied her bachelor’s in engineering before working for several years as a software developer. Within the same organization, Triparna gradually made the switch in a management direction into HR, in the learning and development department.
Yet she found her business acumen to be limited, with a desire to expand her knowledge not being met by the nature of her current work.
“If you are based in HR for a long time, you seem only to know about your area of expertise—not much about what’s going on outside,” Triparna recalls.
Europe was appealing—offering both cheaper and shorter MBA programs—and the EDHEC Global MBA stood out with its ‘comprehensive and varied’ 10-month curriculum.
In particular, the specializations which they offered were not typical compared to what she saw elsewhere. Triparna opted for the ‘global leadership’ specialization track.
Part of this was seeing how industry functioned in a completely different country. Her global leadership expedition took her to Singapore for a week, exposing her to different business perspectives and practices to that she was used to in India.
This equipped her well for her current position on the HR global leadership program at Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical multinational. Triparna, like Antonella, was supported by the career service at EDHEC, in particular preparing for the lengthy three-month interview process for Roche.
Firmly established at the center of Europe, Triparna views her Global MBA at EDHEC Business School as invaluable, deploying the skills she learnt on a daily basis, as well as grasping a new understanding of global leadership.
“Before the MBA, I didn’t think it was possible to challenge your own processes and ideas in business,” Triparna imparts, “The MBA really helped me do that.”