Q. I’ve had miserable luck with my PR job search and need to decide shortly whether I start work next month on my MBA. Even though I desperately want a PR career, that doesn’t seem to be happening so do you think the business degree will help me long term? -SA
A. Dont think a master’s in business administration degree will guarantee a job. Like PR, there’s plenty of competition for business jobs. Many financial institutions earlier this year reneged on once-attractive offers to graduating MBAs. About the same number of students are enrolled in MBA programs as are seeking PR degrees. In the U.S. alone, colleges graduated 110,000 MBAs this year. (In Chicago, more than 15,000 students currently are enrolled in the city’s 25+ MBA programs).
Northwestern University professor Clarke Caywood says the return on investment (ROI) for an MBA is questionable unless it is part-time. However, he believes MBA degrees from top schools still have cache and may warrant the “opportunity costs.” Dr. Caywood advocates taking some part-time evening MBA courses, which he says “may be enough to give you a competitive edge”.
Since you are interested in PR, Dr. Caywood emphasizes that MBA programs do not offer PR classwork. He notes that Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate degree offers more PR than any business school. However, he acknowledges that even the IMC degree is no guarantee for employment in today’s market. (Northwestern and other colleges offer evening IMC programs).
In this economic environment, it is wise to calculate the costs of a graduate degree to determine at what point you might recoup that investment. Clarke and I agree that part-time is a logical option for many, plus it allows you to continue pursuing a full-time position in the field you love.