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How Can You Use An MBA For A Career Change?

Considering a career change? Larry Medina from ESSEC Business School walks you through how an MBA can help


Thu Nov 7 2019

I want to make a career change. How can an MBA help?

Dear BusinessBecause,

I have just under five years' work experience, and want to work in a new industry. Is it better to pursue an MBA, or should I just apply to jobs in the new sector?

What are the advantages of using an MBA to change careers, and how can I best present my career change plans to an admissions committee?

This week's Applicant Question was submitted by an anonymous reader, hoping to make a career change.

The Answer

This week's Applicant Question is answered by Larry Medina, head of career services, and corporate and alumni relations at ESSEC Business School Asia Pacific in Singapore.

One of the top motivations for getting an MBA is to make a career change. 

In fact, employers understand MBAs will most likely be looking to make a career change. MBA programs have been a common source of talent for companies for many years, including fresh and sometimes, non-conventional talent.  

First, let’s define what a ‘career change’ means.

There are three primary dimensions of a career change: geography, industry, and function. 

In general, changing one dimension has a higher probability than changing three dimensions. Many MBAs can change one or two dimensions, and even three-dimension changes happen occasionally.

So, is it better to pursue an MBA, or should I just apply to jobs in the new sector? It depends! 

Employers are looking for transferrable skills and new skills acquired during the MBA program when evaluating career switchers.

An MBA is a good way to pick up new skill sets to make you an attractive candidate. One of the more common scenarios is engineers that are looking to make a career switch. 

By picking up new skills in marketing, operations, finance, strategy and HR, an engineer can pursue a broader set of roles after completing the program. 

This is just one example and the same applies to other categories of career switchers.  

New Networks

In addition to new skills, an MBA will allow you to develop and extend your network. 

Networking is the most effective way to find a new job, especially for career switchers. Many times, HR is not open to career switchers, but by networking within the organisation, you will be able to open doors. 

If someone in the organization recommends a candidate, HR will most likely include them in the recruitment process based on the recommendation.  

During your MBA, you will meet classmates, alumni and employers. 

We strive to maximise the networking opportunities for students as part of the MBA program. Alumni from top business schools like ESSEC are eager to ‘pay it forward’ by networking and mentoring students. 

Your classmates will be a valuable resource for the rest of your career for finding new jobs, finding business partners and finding funding for start-ups. 


One final benefit of an MBA for career switchers is exposure. 

Many times, students find their direction during the program. 

Through their classes, career services office or classmates, they discover a career path that they had not even considered previously.  

The best way to present your career change plan to the admissions committee is preparation. 

The committee understands that you many change your mind as you discover new opportunities. As part of the review, the committee is evaluating that the candidate has thought about their skills, motivators and interests; that they understand themselves. 

Also, the committee is evaluating that the candidate has thought about the job market and the skills required. 

The key is to demonstrate understanding of yourself and the market and also, to demonstrate realistic expectations. 

The admissions committee will appreciate honest, thoughtful and coherent answers to all parts of the application including career expectations.  

Finally, I notice that you that you have under five years of work experience. 

MBAs can benefit a wide range of profiles but the sweet spot for career switchers is between five to seven years of experience when exiting the MBA program.  

Wishing you all the best with your career journey and hope to see you at ESSEC! 

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question!


Next week, you'll have the chance to ask David White, founding partner at Menlo Coaching, anything you want about getting into business school.

David has been coaching MBA applicants on how to get accepted to their perfect school since 2012. His special focus is helping applicants to develop their career goals.

Prior to his work with Menlo, David's 15 year career spanned both startups like Efficient Frontier, and giants like Yahoo and Traevelzoo, in Europe and the US.

Got a question you'd love David to answer? Submit your question.

Student Reviews

ESSEC Business School




On Campus

The best intercultural university

There are more than 50 nationality in the grade, so there are opportunities to interact with people from all around the world. In terms of academics, the BBA course offers diverse courses for the 1st




On Campus

Creativity, adaptability and entrepreneurship

The Master in Management program at the ESSEC Business School allows the students to choose their courses accordingly to their preferences and their professional targets. We can also go through international exchange and take part in internships with companies that are also partners with the school. The school is also next to the city of Paris.




On Campus

Top business school in France

Doing PhD in essec took some time, to be precise about five years. But the experience was very good and cost effective too. There are opportunities for the student for teaching assistantship and that helps both financially and in career. In the final year I could manage to teach marketing to M1 students and this helped shape my career




On Campus

Great college

The program is well suited for early professionals with an engineering degree preferably or a degree in economics. I would suggest taking the ceasure irrespective of the experience level as it helps you take your time to adjust to the job market.





Good school in France

I am currently enrolled in M2 in Essec business school. I am specialising in marketing management. The Grande Ecole programme is valued in France and my school ranks very high up. There are a lot of opportunities for internships and CDD.




The program curriculum

BBA program. The program is really practical and useful, provide us many international opportunities. Like internship and humanitarian experience, and the flexibility is also really cool, we can choose different campus and tracks as we want.




International Course

This school is very international and business oriented. Highly recognized by the companies The campus has been renovated and is very functional and modern from now on. Excellent atmosphere. Reputation of essec is a plus




Friends, Career opportunities.

The program I did gave me the opportunity to start in Singapore. I got the chance to know all the students that started there and we bonded and made some friends for life. The career opportunities that ESSEC also gave me were unbelievable.




Practical and useful

I think the best thing about Essec is that it's not focusing on academics rather it emphasizes on future job mindset and professional experiences.. The classes are interesting and we have plenty of workshops attributing to different sectors.. The campus is very nice with a good cafe and wonderful library. The only problem is the location of the campus. It's quite far from Paris.




On Campus

Amazing experience! Must try

I think its a very amazing school with great and experienced faculty. Also the alumni network is very solid and useful. The school has a great balance of studies and work experience which is really essential for a student.




On Campus

GBBA: Diverse, Enriching, and Career-Boosting

My experience at ESSEC Business School has been outstanding. The Global BBA program offers a rich academic curriculum and diverse learning opportunities. I appreciated the chance to study on different campuses, including an international exchange, which broadened my perspective. The social environment is culturally diverse and vibrant, enhancing both my personal and professional growth. The administration is attentive, constantly offering new academic and student life opportunities. The campus facilities and classrooms are excellent. I highly recommend ESSEC for its excellence, global exposure, and career opportunities.




On Campus


The English track BBA program at ESSEC is simply exceptional. Courses are taught by internationally renowned professors who are experts in their field. The subjects taught cover a wide range of disciplines from marketing to finance, strategy and entrepreneurship. The English track is a major asset because it allows you to develop perfect mastery of professional English, essential in today's globalized business world. Some students love student life at Essec, which is one of the best in France, but it all depends on taste.