How an MBA helps you get the position and salary you deserve

By Liz Rosenberg

Have you ever been passed up for a promotion? Did you receive the pay bump you expected during your last review cycle?

If you feel like you’re advancing too slowly in your career, are you taking a critical look at why you’re not reaching your goals?

  • What made your coworker the better candidate for the leadership position?
  • Why did you only receive a 2% pay increase, as opposed to the 10% you were expecting?

Most employees get overlooked for title changes and pay increases because they lack experience or skills for advancement. By going through a full-time or part-time MBA program, you can prove your ability to successfully execute management and leadership tasks, gain the agility to switch functions or industries, and maybe even land a pay increase.

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How can a top MBA program help you get the position of your dreams and the salary to match?

Improve soft skills necessary for management and leadership

It’s common to think that just because you’re excelling in your current role, you’ll be a prime candidate for a promotion. However, the skills required to complete your current task list are likely different than what’s needed to manage or lead a team.

For example, your organization skills, tact, and dedication may make you successful in your current role, but your lack of practice in critical thinking, empathy, or decision-making hinder your ability to take on management and leadership tasks.

The curriculum at both Haas programs is designed to refine soft skills that are highly regarded by employers, such as:

Full-time and part-time MBA programs are a great place to seek open and direct feedback from peers, professors, colleagues, and mentors to help you foster soft skills that may otherwise be difficult to improve. Gaining insight into your ability to demonstrate soft skills is especially important if your current job isn’t transparent about why you’ve been passed up for a promotion or a raise.

Improve the hard skills needed to change functions

After obtaining your undergraduate degree, you may have entered into a sector of business without realizing more appealing opportunities exist. Heading back to business school is a perfect way to leverage your previous professional experience and spring into a new role.

Previous professional experience gives you time to reflect on what you excel at in the workplace. It also highlights areas where you can improve or extend your skills. By analyzing your workplace strengths and weakness, as well as your interests and dislikes you can find the best way to pivot into a role you’re better suited for.

Let’s say you’re currently in project management but you want to become an entrepreneur. There are gaps in your hard skillset that can make the transition difficult. In your current role, you might be adept at coordinating internal resources or delivering projects on time, but you may have less experience when it comes to product innovation or risk management. By heading back to a top business school, you have the opportunity to focus on your desired career path. You can then deep dive into developing the hard skills to propel you to the next level.

Specifically, students can emphasize the following career paths during their studies at UC Berkeley:

Connect and expand to pivot industries

Maybe you’ve spent the last 10 years in tech marketing, but you want to move into nonprofit consulting. To switch industries, you’ll need to acquire new skills, and perhaps new connections.

Apart from teaching you skills, techniques, and business trends necessary to thrive in a new industry, going back to business school can create opportunities to network with classmates, professors, and business leaders in your dream space. Strong connections can make it easier for you to find jobs, internships, or mentors to help you navigate your path in a new industry.

By attending the Haas School of Business, you also have access to a wealth of career resources:

Learn to showcase the intangibles

A typical piece of feedback managers give employees is that taking initiative is critical for promotions.

Taking initiative and being able to receive feedback and use it for positive change are difficult skills to showcase in a typical work environment. But if you don't find a way to exhibit these characteristics, you can hinder your chances of advancing in the workplace.

By pursuing an MBA, you’re automatically showing employers that you take initiative. An MBA is a perfect example of you taking control of your destiny, and not being satisfied with the status quo in the workplace.

Additionally, a top MBA program is chock full of opportunities to receive feedback. For example, conferences and competitions are a great way to engage, challenge, and deepen your business acumen while showing employers you can accept feedback from judges, business leaders, and peers.

Add experience to increase your salary

The class of 2022 at Berkeley Haas has some impressive statistics to support the notion that MBA students have high earning potential. Of the 320 students who graduated from Haas last year, 93.8% received job offers, 73.9% received a sign-on bonus, and the breakdown of earnings is just as exciting:

  • $152,831: Mean base annual salary
  • $155,000: Median base annual salary
  • $33,418: Mean sign-on bonus

While the pay statistics are favorable for MBA students, your ability to land a higher-paying job isn’t just because of the piece of paper. There is an art to communicating your strengths, negotiating your worth, and expressing professionalism throughout the hiring process; you will undoubtedly develop these skills through the course of a full-time, part-time, or executive MBA program.

An MBA from a top business school can help you grow your network and leadership skills so you can take the next step toward a fulfilling career and increase your salary. Are you ready to invest in yourself?


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Posted on August 2, 2023
Themes: MBA Benefits
Liz Rosenberg
Liz was Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Full-time MBA Program at Berkeley Haas from 2018-2019. She holds an MBA from Boston University and came to Haas after gaining years of experience in retail for Gap and Gymboree, in financial services for Putnam Investments, as well as engaging in significant non-profit volunteer work. Prior to joining the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program, she spent 7 years in admissions for Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She loves her work in admissions because of the connections she's able to develop with students, all of whom bring such amazing diversity of personal and professional experience to the program.