The positives and negatives of being an MBS Staff member and a student.

Posted in MBS Careers on March 4, 2009 by edcook

When I tell people that in addition to working in the Careers Centre, I’m also a student, I generally get mixed reactions. Full-time students generally view part-time students with a certain amount of pity, having to manage a job, study and keep a wife/partner happy whilst you dedicate a large part of your life to MBA study. Whilst it is financially easier to study an MBA part-time there are also quite a few downsides. The study experience a full-time student gains is far richer, the ability to discuss, debate and carry out further research around a topic of interest, enables full-time students to do more than just scratch the surface.  Part-time students have to try and squeeze in reading and lecture preparation, fulfilling the minimum criteria of not appearing an idiot if asked a question in a lecture.

So what are the positives and negatives associated with my dual role at MBS:

Positives:

  • I understand what students go through whilst studying for an MBA, I was after all a student before I became a member of staff.
  • I don’t have to travel far to get to a lecture.
  • I know the full-time cohort as well as part-time students
  • I get to now the academics as colleagues as well as teachers
  • I get to see and hear how decisions made by the school affect the student body
  • I have a pretty nice office at the school which I can use for study at the weekends
  • I get to do the MBA for free
  • I get to build a great network as part of my job.

Negatives

  • I have to maintain a neutral position when students start complaining to me, some of my part-time colleagues find this frustrating, “Ed you’re agreeing with everything MBS is doing!”
  • Full-time students view me as a member of staff, part-time ones view me as a student.
  • I spend a lot of time advising students on their future career, I am still not sure what the future holds for me!
  • If I talk to Full-time students generally the conversation revolves around careers and the job market.

All in all, I think I have a pretty good deal!

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Employment prospects for an MBA graduate.

Posted in MBS Careers on March 3, 2009 by edcook

A few months ago I was relatively optimistic that the jobs market in Australia was adequately insulated from the economic turmoil in the US and the UK.  This unfortunately appears not to be the case, for a job seeker the financial press makes for depressing reading.  There appear to be two approaches taken by employers in the current market, either forced redundancies due to the loss of projects or the inability of clients to pay for already completed work, this has been apparent in the property market with architecture firms and construction firms facing a pipeline of work that has disappeared.  As staff are generally hired for specific projects, when a project is shelved, the staff assigned to that specific project are let go too.  Other employers are adopting the “wait and see” approach, waiting until they see whether the economy either continues to decline,  or the various stimulus packages start to have a positive effect, this is when they will start to consider hiring again.

Faced with this gloomy outlook, in complete contrast to the MBA graduates of 2008, the current class is faced with a number of options.

  • Continue to study – not appealing when they have already racked up large debts as a result of studying an MBA, but better than doing nothing.
  • Market themselves as a freelance consultant, looking for work on a contract basis, this will generally have to be in an industry similar to their pre-MBA.  Spending on external contractors increases as prolonged “permanent headcount freezes” are maintained.  As with the consulting firms, the focus of assignments has shifted from profit maximisation or new market entry to cost reduction or process improvement.
  • Take a more entrepreneurial approach and work with fellow students to identify and establish a new venture. Whilst this might not generate an immediate cash flow, by the time the research and planning stage has been completed credit is likely to be more readily available.
  • Look at overseas opportunities – consider countries that will benefit from continued infrastructure investment from the likes of the World Bank or Ausaid, i.e Vietnam
  • Consider opportunities in the public sector – reading the AFR, the number of government jobs advertised appears to be increasing, this could just be in contrast to the declining number of private sector jobs.
  • Study at PhD – focussing on an area that is in vogue with businesses leaders will help in securing work post study.

Over the past few weeks I have been speaking to many MBS Alumni, there are opportunities available, however, identifying them involves a lot more research than just using the online job boards on a daily basis. Tools such as Linkedin  make the search process much easier. Not only will this focus on building a network pay dividends in the short term,  a mutually beneficial network, that is proactively maintained will improve career prospects in the long term.