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4 Fun and Creative Post-MBA Jobs

Posted in Test Prep on July 12, 2011 by

We all know “fun” is a relative term – for some that might mean ruling the boardroom, raking in millions, or advising powerful executives on their strategy. For others, “fun” might mean expressing one’s self creatively, communicating a vision, helping to fuse business with artistic interests, directing an enterprise, working towards some sort of social good, or exercising a direct role in product development.

Whether you’re a non-traditional applicant from a creative background, a burnt-out banker, or someone looking for a reason other than salary boost to attend b-school, this post will run through some fun and creative career options for freshly minted MBAs. In many cases, the money isn’t bad either!

1. Brand Manager for Consumer Goods Company

A brand manager is responsible for shaping the promotion and development of a certain product or line of products. He or she guides market research, analyzes sales figures, determines product pricing and placement, manages the advertising campaign, and often over-sees the development of both product and package design. He or she may also be responsible for contacting retailers to convince them to carry a brand or acting as the sort of “owner” of the brand within a large company. In many ways, brand managers have a lot in common with the owners of small businesses. Almost every company out there–whether it manufactures packaged foods, apparel, toys, or electronics–has a “brand” and managers to oversee those brands.

Some of the specific work you might be be doing:

-Meeting with product developers, engineers, copywriters, and art directors to manage the product and package design and to make sure the brand is developing cohesively.
-Holding telephone and in-person conferences with retailers to convince them to carry the product; determining the details of shipping and supply arrangements.
-Evaluating the efficacy of past advertising campaigns and developing improvements.

Who the job is suited for:

This kind of work is suited for those who are both creative and business oriented, have exceptional communication skills, are data and research driven, enjoy conceptual and creative thinking, and have some entrepreneurial tendencies.

Some of challenges you might encounter along the way:

-Is it possible to tap into a new consumer base? What will it cost to rebuild the brand? Should it be repositioned entirely?
-Sub-brands allow businesses to downscale and upscale their brands profitably without compromising or tarnishing the entire brand (notable sub-brands include “Courtyard” by Marriott or “Holiday Inn Express” for Holiday Inn). Is this an effective move for your brand?
-Will extending the product line of your brand help it meet a greater range of consumer needs or will it merely confuse the strategic role of each item in the line?

2. Marketing or Business Development Executive at a Tech Startup

Working at a startup allows one to wear multiple hats and assume significant responsibility early on in one’s career. There are other pros to startup life as well. Since the company you work for will hopefully be growing, the work environment will evolve quickly and the job is less likely than others to become stale and repetitive. You are also likely to be exposed to an eclectic range of people who enjoy an intense, fast-paced work environment. If you’re frustrated by bureaucracy, there is generally less of it at startups, which tend to be leaner and more agile. And to the extent that the company you work for is a disruptor in its industry, you may be exposed to interesting and groundbreaking ideas.

Some of the specific work you might be doing:

-Determining the pricing and placement of various products.
-Meeting with the heads of other companies to evaluate and/or establish partnerships.
-Determining the efficacy of various marketing strategies and presiding over sales and marketing meetings.

This kind of work is suited for those who have excellent leadership ability, enjoy an intense collaborative work environment, and have the capacity to iterate and develop quickly.

Some of the challenges you might encounter along the way:

-How to scale the business
-How best to establish a new brand within the market (this will obviously be different from reinforcing or rebuilding a brand, for instance).
-How to keep the company lean and agile as it grows

Check out serial entrepreneur Steve Blank’s discussion on the specific challenges of startup vs. big company life. The big question is whether you enjoy “searching” for, “building,” or “executing” a scalable business strategy.

3. Creative Executive at a Film Studio

If you were involved in artistic pursuits growing up and can’t seem to get showbiz out of your system, you might want to consider being an executive at an entertainment studio. Note that the job will require you to focus on business and legal responsibilities, so if you want a purely creative job, you are best advised not to pursue an MBA and a business career. If, however, the prospect of being involved in all aspects of the film production process excites you enough to stomach those GMAT Data Sufficiency questions and Accounting 101, you should read further.

Some of the specific work you might be doing:

-Evaluating the market potential of certain creative works.
-Meeting with agents, producers, directors, writers to discuss projects.
-Looking for material that could potentially be a product.
-Managing legal complexities involving intellectual property.

This kind of work is suitable for people who can think like artists but also demonstrate strong business acumen. Creative executives must have a passion for the industry and possess exceptional interpersonal skill.

Some of the challenges you might encounter along the way:

-Difficulty of balancing business and artistic interests
-Since success is often subjective and harder to measure, industry can be less of a meritocracy and politics can easily arise.
-Popularity of this job leads to people who are willing to work for almost nothing just to get their foot in the door; in this sort of environment, one must be driven and aggressive to succeed.

4. Developing Strategy for a Non-Profit

Developing strategy for a non-profit is a great way to satisfy a number of your professional needs at once: you get to play a pivotal role in an organization, contribute directly to your community or society, and exercise a range of business skills. Many top b-schools even have programs to encourage students who elect this path. For example, leading nonprofit and public sector organizations are offering 8 outstanding HBS grads $45k a year, which HBS will match. Check out this year’s winners and what they’re doing to change the world!

Some of the specific work you might be doing:

-Measuring the success of the nonprofit’s programs and determining metrics of success
-Setting clear goals and a timeline by which to achieve them
-Charting resource allocation

This kind of work is suitable for those who have a desire to do good in the world and who possess the ability to inspire others through their language and ideas. Good strategists for non-profits also demonstrate exceptional analytical ability and interpersonal skill, and a breadth of knowledge about the world.

Some of the challenges you might encounter along the way:

-Focusing the mission of the non-profit and articulating it in precise financial terms (more challenging than it seems)
-Determining what the non-profit is not intended to accomplish and what trade-offs exist. For instance, if you widen the group that will benefit from the programs, will it diminish the efficacy of the programs?