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After the MBA: Government

Posted in Test Prep on January 31, 2011 by

Welcome to another post in our “After the MBA” series, in which we chronicle a variety of post-MBA career opportunities to give you a sense of which might be the best fit for you. Whether you’re looking to make a career change or want to stay in your present field, this information will help guide you in your b-school decision-making process, as well as direct your studies once in school.



What It Is:

Government jobs available for MBAs vary widely. Many government agencies – from the Department of Labor to NASA to the US Postal Service to the Department of the Treasury – have job opportunities for business school graduates. While working for the government post-MBA might seem unconventional to some, the sheer range of jobs available makes it a logical choice for a variety of candidates. According to the Partnership for Public Service, fields currently hiring for positions include Contracting, General Business and Industry, Loan Specialist, and Realty.

Salary Range:

Salaries for government jobs are lower than many of the private-sector jobs available to MBAs; however, there are some advantages to working for the government, perhaps most significantly stability and quality of life (hours are almost always less grueling than those in popular post-MBA jobs like consulting or investment banking).

The median base salary for Class of 2009 Harvard Business School grads entering government jobs was $90,000; the number was the same for graduates from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. According to slightly older data (a survey conducted in April 2006 by the Graduate Management Admission Council), the average base salary for MBA grads in the government/nonprofit sector is $63,565.

Is a Government Job for You?

Because government jobs span such a wide range of fields, it is important to look closely at the individual agency and field in which you are interested in working. If making money is your #1 goal post-MBA, then a government job likely isn’t the best field for you. However, if you are interested in maintaining a work-life balance, and in finding a stable job with excellent benefits that allows you to influence government research and policy, a government job could be a great fit.

Be aware, too, that stereotypes of government work don’t always hold true. As Kerry Willigan, career consultant at the George Mason University School of Management, put it in this article, “I think MBAs have negative perceptions about government jobs, that it’s a type of drone mentality… But it’s more dynamic than that. You get a lot of responsibility and the opportunity to have some sort of impact.”

How to Break In

If you know going into b-school that government work is for you, look for schools that offer certificates or concentrations in Public Management. This way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take relevant classwork and network with like-minded peers and mentors.

Government agencies recruit at many business schools; be sure to attend any networking events and info sessions that are offered. There are also fellowship opportunities available for b-school students: check out the Presidential Management Fellows, which “matches outstanding graduate students with exciting Federal opportunities” and the Department of Labor MBA Internship and Fellowship Program, which gives MBA students the opportunity to serve as interns and/or two year fellows in various governmental agencies.

The stimulus plan has provided many government agencies the opportunity to open the doors to new hires–according to a survey by the MBA Career Services Council, recruiting from government industries is up by as much as 35% at many schools.