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Five alternative careers for MBAs

June 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

This post is inspired by a tweet I came across a few days ago — @batess I’d like to see a blog post about alternative career choices for MBA graduates.

When I was attending business school, one thing I enjoyed the least was the herd-like mentality –- there was tremendous amount of peer pressure to follow the crowed to pursue one of the traditional MBA career paths such as investment banking, management consulting, brand management, or high tech. So, I have developed a very healthy respect for MBAs who have taken the road less travelled by pursuing an “alternative” career path.

I supposed it’s hard to define “alternative”. For the sake for this article, when I say “alternative career choices”, I mean the career choices that are not typical for an MBA graduate.

Below is my list of five alternative career choices some MBAs have taken.

Sports Analytics

If you’ve read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, you know how important a role data analytics could play in drafting professional athletes and running a pro sports team. In this year’s NBA playoff, Houston Rocket was the only team who took the eventual champion L.A. Lakers to a game 7. But, do you know that the Houston Rocket is run by a general Manager who has never played professional basketball, who has an undergraduate degree in computer science, and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Business? His name is Daryl Morey, who puts his faith in numbers. Now he just needs to get them to add up to another title. MIT Sloan even offers a Sports Analytics Conference.

Improve public education

Take on full-time managerial role in a school district or charter management organization. The prestigious Broad Residency is a “two-year leadership development program that places participants into full-time high-level managerial positions in school districts and charter management organizations (CMOs), where they can have an immediate impact on the education of America’s students.” 89% of Broad Residency alumni continue to work in public education, and 72% of alumni work in district or CMOs.

Become a franchisee

According to this New York Times article, an increasing number of business school graduates and corporate executives are going into low-tech franchises like Dukin’s Donuts and gas station. I happened to know one of the MBAs mentioned in the article – running a franchise could be very lucrative and providing an alternative income stream to supplement (or even replace) the not-so-stable corporate gig.

Start your own non-profit organization to change the world

John Wood, a Kellogg MBA and an overworked Microsoft executive, founded Room to Read, which strives to provide children access to education, one child at a time, one school at a time, and one village at a time. John Wood also wrote a great book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, talking about his experience of starting and running Room to Read. It was a very inspirational read.

Strike on your own

From laid-off banker to Wall Street tour guide: Andrew Luan is a MIT Sloan graduate. He was a former vice president at Deutsche Bank who traded CDOs. After getting laid off, he started  Wall Street Experience LLC, which offers the Financial Crisis Tour.

Given the shortage of jobs, it’s conceivable that more and more MBAs will choose to strike on their own.

The not-alternative-any-more-career-choice: I intentionally left out working for the US Federal Government as an alternative career choice for MBA – more and more MBAs will be working for the US Government. It’s going “mainstream”. 🙂

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