MBAs come from all walks of life in every country in the world. They choose graduate study as a way to expand their employment opportunities. Post-MBA jobs tend to come with superior salaries and MBAs rise through the ranks quickly. But, many b-schoolers are trading in the plush packages and choosing to work with startups after graduation – or to launch their own. And, for good reason (or, rather, reasons) too.
Recruitment at b-schools is a big deal, and it takes up plenty of time. Before you even arrive on campus, you should be knee-deep in the process. And, for the most part, recruitment for MBAs what want to work at a startup isn’t very different from those looking for a corporate position. But, startups are more likely to hire through networks rather than through career services offices. MBA candidates hoping for a post-grad job with one of these companies should consider this aspect strongly, especially when choosing their summer internships.
That said, the latest survey by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance shows that 50 percent of schools reported an increase in startup companies recruiting on campus. Steady increases have been documented over the past several reports.
Despite the increases in b-school hiring, some universities still aren’t certain how to work with the specific needs of these enterprises. And, they are specific; there aren’t generic startups out there. Each one is working to solve a specific challenge – and they simultaneously demand specialised skills and talent that can work across a wide range of roles.
As with any other company, you’ll need to do your research. Startup recruiters are likely to know their business inside and out. Asking questions whose answers are easily answered through a simple web search will mean an early (and unfulfilled) end your interview.
MBAs hoping for a position with a startup must be patient, however. Small companies need to weigh their options and often can’t plan their staffing requirements a year and a half beforehand as big business can. Most startups make offers within a couple of months before start dates.
Corporations offer upward mobility, with regular reviews, and increasing paychecks. You’re not going to find those benefits as easily in small startups (though those that are bigger and further along are more likely to have these structures in place). However, large businesses are typically slower to innovate and have less flexibility by nature.
Startups tend to offer MBAs a lot more responsibility. You’ll face the challenges you learned to deal with in your studies a lot earlier than those that enter the corporate world. Independence is as key as the ability to work with a team and ambiguity is part and parcel of figuring out the challenges of growing a business and solving whatever problem the business developed around. Wherever they study, MBAs are great problem solvers.
An MBA education helps startups in some obvious ways. There’s always a business plan class, and the communication skills developed throughout the entire course. MBAs understand how to document and develop best practices; they can identify the areas of a business that can scale and push for viable growth. B-schools ensure grads can manage across industries and functions, and the rate of failure drops accordingly.
And, let’s not forget about the networks, networks, networks. Approximately 25 percent of unicorns (startups valued at over $1 billion) have MBA founders – and there is plenty of reason to believe that MBA networks are a big part of their success. While this doesn’t mean working as an employee in a startup will guarantee that business will be successful, it does make it more likely.
Increasing numbers of students are choosing to intern at startups as well. These positions offer a range of knowledge and experiences which provide leverage when interviewing for full-time positions. And, it appears that nearly 25 percent of MBAs eventually go on to found startups, even if they don’t do it in the first couple of years out of school. Clearly, b-schools are preparing MBAs for startup challenges.
And, one of the challenges b-school students are trying to solve when launching their own startups are the issues facing MBAs. Sarah Rumbaugh, a Darden MBA grad went on to found RelishMBA to help connect to grads with recruiters after experiencing first-hand the intense process MBAs go through during recruiting.
Prodigy Finance was founded by INSEAD MBAs who ran into troubles securing the necessary financing for their studies at prestigious international business school. The idea for a borderless lending model that would enable talent from across the globe to study at top universities developed as CEO, Cameron Stevens, and his co-founders shared their experiences. Startup competition prize money became the seed for an innovative platform that now allows alumni, impact investors, and other private entities to invest in tomorrow’s leaders while earning a financial and social return. To date, Prodigy Finance has helped over 6874 students, from 127 countries, borrow over $318m to fund their international graduate degrees.
These developments are just the tip of the iceberg; MBA startups are solving problems across industries and continents. But, of course, not everyone chooses to launch or work in a startup. It’s just that you’ll develop the skills to succeed in that environment or any other. And, with the startup landscape growing and changing in every area of the world, you’ll certainly have a choice to go against the grain if you want it.
Author Bio: Rishabh Goel is an Associate Relationship Manager at Prodigy Finance. He studied Economics & Engineering at BITS & Masters at London Business School. He has helped Indians excel at GMAT/GRE and mentored students to attend top schools globally.