IMPORTANT: Throughout the entire article and part 2 of this article, when I use the acronym “MBA,” I mean the “full-time MBA” programs of a top-level business school in Europe and the United States. (see the classifications updated here: BusinessWeek or Financial Times). When I mention an MBA here, I do not mean any of the following: Online MBA, part-time MBA, executive MBA, other master’s degree or MBA from schools that are not in the first-mentioned classifications.
Career choice after MBA graduation: one of the most important decisions in your professional life
Doing an MBA is a dream come true for many professionals. The reasons for doing so are as diverse as the backgrounds of the people who are finally accepted: change in the industry, higher wages, access to the best multinational companies, increased opportunities for future promotion, work in a different country, exponential increase in your professional network, etc. and … of course … to learn about Business Administration in the process.
However, one thing is true for everyone:
It is probably the only time in your professional life that, if you really want to, you could work practically in any company in the world. In most cases, you do not even have to actively apply because most companies will recruit you on campus.
Depending on the economic cycle and its background, it is not uncommon for you to see yourself in a position where you have more than one offer and you have to choose the one you like the most. Can you think of any other point in your professional life (in the past or in the future) where you have two or three incredible job offers at the same time? If you can, you are a really lucky person. For the rest, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you have to choose wisely.
There are many things to consider when choosing your career after the MBA, but I will not go into details here; This would be material for another article. The only thing that I think is worth mentioning here is that for me the most important factor is that you really like what you will be doing. From my personal point of view, if you get into an industry or a job that you really like, you will end up being very good at that, and you will probably earn more money in the long term than your colleagues who chose with a different criterion (high level). initial salary for example) as its most important factor.
That said, if what you like to do or what you’re passionate about is the Internet / Technology / Media industry, the rest of this article can give you some advice to decide and help you evaluate some advantages and disadvantages of participating in this. The private sector where MBAs are not so common. The objective here is to give you reasons for and against accepting a job in this industry (by someone who made this choice a couple of years ago) so you can make a better-informed decision.
The internet industry for an MBA
At first glance, it may seem that there are not many reasons for an MBA graduate to enter the Internet/media industry. The opportunity cost is too high: you know you will earn less money (than your consulting / banking colleagues), your degree has much less value (in an industry driven by “engineering/technology”) and it will be much harder to find work. So … why should an MBA from a top-tier school consider the Internet industry?
First let’s look at some of the drawbacks …
“MBA Culture” ?? … Does not exist
It is no secret that this industry is governed by technicians, engineers and programmers. This is reasonable given that most of the first innovations in the industry have been driven by the “technical” side rather than by the “commercial” side of the industry. Just look at some of the most important names in the industry in the last 20 years: Sergey Brin and Larry Page (creators of Google), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), etc., all of them where programmers or mathematicians (Maybe the only exception here could be Jeff Bezos, Amazon).
These companies, with Microsoft and Google at the top of the list have created corporate cultures where the programmer is the king, who has all the other functions considered secondary. Many smaller smaller companies have followed the market leaders who develop their own similar corporate cultures creating a complete industry in which the Business People (ie Marketing, Finance, Sales and other functions) are secondary. In this MBA configuration they are not an exception.
There is no tradition in hiring an MBA (the industry is still very young), there are no resources specially dedicated to this type of professionals, there are very few MBAs that are already working in the industry and, in general, I could summarize saying that No is an “MBA Culture” in the Internet industry.
MBA in hiring experts … There is still no
The Internet industry is new compared to other demanding MBA industries, such as banking or consulting. These industries have worked with MBA in the past and know the value they can obtain from them, so they have specific hiring programs for MBA, human resources personnel specially trained to hire MBA, internship programs, rotation programs for MBA, etc. This means that they have a lot of experience in hiring MBAs over the years and also that there are many MBAs that are already working in these companies. Usually, the big consultancies (Bain, McKinsey, BCG, Booz Allen, AT Kerney, etc.) and the investment banks (or what remains of them) are the first to come to the campus to recruit, even 2-3 months before any other company. The big salaries and the opportunity to eliminate the uncertainty of getting an early job in handling many people, Usually many bright people, to these industries. But that’s how it works for the Consulting / Banking industry … on the other side of the spectrum is the Internet industry
As mentioned earlier, this is an industry clearly led by engineers/programmers, in which Business People tend to be a necessary but not vital part of the company. From here, it is natural that most of the resources and recruitment efforts are aimed at hiring the best programmers and the brightest engineers who leave the university. As a former MBA student, this is something you can see clearly while looking for a job during the second year. Just to give an example of the “three big” names on the Internet and their hiring processes while I was on campus 2005-2006.
Yahoo: Did not come to any Career Recruitment events, did not post any Internship or jobs but at the end hired one person for an Internship. This is one of the different types of mistakes when recruiting on campus: Not posting publicly available jobs/internships. If you want to get the best candidate, the usual path is to post it through the Career Services Department so the position is available to all the students. This creates more applications, more competition and the possibility for the company to choose the best candidate from several different applicants.
eBay: this company had some MBA alumni in its staff, but during the two years of my MBA they did not publish any work or internship, so I can not say much about their recruitment process. Maybe in his case, it was just a question of demand and supply: they already had the necessary part of the MBA they needed for their current structure.
Google: Google was the funniest case of the three. They just did not want to show up at our racing fairs or company presentations, but somehow, our Career Services staff managed to convince them. They came, made a presentation of the company and brought nine people, most of the companies that year (usually the companies bring the main recruiter and one or two students). In the end, they did not have any internship program to offer, there were no MBA type positions and there was nothing clear. They ended up hiring anyone from our school that year … which, judging by the resources invested, was not a good strategy.
As you can see, in general, these companies do not have a well-organized process for hiring an MBA. To some extent, this is understandable because the industry is still very young (more or less 15 years). My hope is that this will change in the near future. As blood reaches the positions of Chief of the Recruitment Departments of other industries, special MBA internship programs will be designed and more resources will be devoted to hiring MBAs on a regular basis. For now, we can only hope that the few MBAs that managed to join these companies do well in their careers, achieve a prominent position in their organizations and can prove their worth to an industry that is still skeptical of MBAs.
Value of an “MBA” for the Internet industry
It is well known that the MBA degree has a different perceived value in different industries. As mentioned above, the experience and knowledge that a top-tier MBA program can offer you are the most valued in industries such as consulting, banking, private equity, and other financial organizations. A lower perceived value means lower starting salaries after graduation and this is another disadvantage of choosing to work in this industry.
If you are not in the United States, you are not really in the Internet industry.
This drawback only applies to European MBAs (like mine, for example). Like many other industries, the Internet industry also has a geographical concentration. Like banking (London), Luxury Goods (Paris), the Internet industry is highly concentrated in the United States, and especially in the Palo Alto / Silicon Valley area. This is bad news for European MBA students. Also, when the US Internet companies UU They will recruit MBA, most of the recruitment will be done within the US. UU., Not in Europe or anywhere else, leaving few opportunities for European MBA students.
The question here is obvious to an MBA graduate considering going to the Internet industry: Why would I choose an industry where there is no MBA culture, my degree is not recognized as in many other industries, there are far fewer positions available and of that, wages are lower?
It seems difficult to overcome all these problems, but there are also some very important reasons in favor that I will explain in the following part of this article: MBA on the Internet
Pedro Neira is an Internet Marketing Manager MBA. Independent consultant and online entrepreneur with experience in strategic consulting, startup fundraising and general management. Expert in online marketing with special skills in SEO and SEM.