The decision to transition: Doing an MBA for a career change

After completing a Bachelor of Sports Management, Greta Swift found that job opportunities in the industry weren’t quite as enticing as she expected. In order to make a switch to a different sector, she knew the best option was to do an MBA for a career change. She told MBAGRADSCHOOLS about the ins and outs of pivoting her career, giving insightful examples to learn from.

In short

An MBA for a career change: Deciding to transition

To get anywhere in your career, you need to put in hard work. However, the age-old advice of never quitting has to be taken with a pinch of salt. If you find yourself struggling to swim upstream or realizing the industry you chose isn’t everything you thought it would be, it’s fine to make a well-informed decision and change your trajectory. 

There is no point in climbing a ladder to a destination you don’t want to get to. Often, it’s better to start again on a ladder that matches your skills and aspirations.

Greta’s Bachelor in Sports Management might suggest that she would now be pursuing a career in the sports industry. However, after graduating, she recalls, “Quickly, I realized that sports is a very competitive industry. It’s just very glamorous. The employment is not as glamorous.” (00:43)

Greta made the confident decision to pursue an MBA for a career change. Motivated by the desire to get more general business knowledge, she applied to the Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University.

Gaining flexibility through an MBA

One thing that defines an MBA is the all-around business skills you gain throughout the course. This is what really separates it from a more specialist master’s degree. It is this wide understanding of a whole host of subjects that allows you to be flexible in your career. 

Greta’s plan of doing an MBA for a career change was solid evidence of this. On the transition, she says, “It was really nice being able to take my sport management degree and then pivot it immediately.” (08:20) This diverse range of applicable skills is among the best advantages for MBA graduates.

Starting out on a new career path

When you’re doing an MBA for a career change, you’re more likely to be open to more opportunities. In a 180-degree turn from her background in sports management, Greta is now a Senior Analyst at Rubenstein Partners, a private equity firm in the USA. 

Having graduated during the job scarcity of the pandemic, Greta took one of the first jobs she could find. As might be expected, she wasn’t directly applying the hard skills she had learned.  However, after switching to Rubenstein Partners, Greta mentioned her capabilities in a meeting in front of the entire organization. As a result, she caught the attention of managers in other offices who needed analytical skills. 

Describing the meeting, she tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS, “I said I had an MBA from Syracuse. I said I had Excel knowledge…I had a working knowledge of how finance, cashflows, [and] all the different income statements worked. That is everything I learned in my MBA. I did not learn that in my sports management degree.” (03:47

All of this was proof for the senior executives at Rubenstein Partners that Greta was qualified to be an analyst.

Upon receiving an offer to move into an analytical role at the headquarters in Philadelphia, she jumped on the opportunity and took a step up in the company. In her words, “I said yes. I figured being flexible would take me to the next level in my career.” (03:11) Later, she would go on to become a Senior Analyst, proving that the skills learned in an MBA and an attentive outlook can really take you places.

The value of soft skills in a career change

As we have seen, Greta has applied hard analytical skills to her current role as a Senior Analyst. However, she has also benefited from the soft skills and group work promoted during the course.

As a relatively young MBA candidate, she was able to learn at an accelerated pace by working with others who had years of industry experience. Greta reflects, “Working in those teams, facing adversity together, also learning how to leverage different weaknesses and strengths to create the best product, is something I directly saw coming out of my MBA.” (05:16)

These skills are essential for those who want to transition in their career. While the hard skills are different for every role, knowing how to work as part of a team and as a leader puts you at the front of the line for new opportunities.

What we can learn from Greta doing an MBA for a career change

Greta’s reassessment of her options shows that while planning is, of course, valuable, keeping your eyes open to opportunities is just as important. Some of the most impactful changes in your career will come to you, rather than you seeking them out. Therefore, it’s a great advantage to have a wide skill set and good experience in collaboration and leadership so you are ready to pivot when an attractive role comes your way.

In addition to the insights from her career change, Greta ended her conversation with MBAGRADSCHOOLS with a unique, yet simple piece of advice: “Buy a really nice coat.” (13:50)

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