Is it Wise to Opt for MS / MBA Abroad in 2021? | Studying Abroad during and post-COVID-19 Recession
One of the top questions and a constant struggle for hundreds of thousands of engineers and science major graduates on what course to pursue after their undergraduate or a few years of work. Should one go for an MBA or MS abroad in 2021?
There is no denying that the next 2 – 3 years are going to be challenging for anyone who is graduating from college or looking for a job. The world has already lost tens of millions of jobs and some of the industries such as travel & hospitality, oil & gas, retail, entertainment, manufacturing, etc. have been hit hard.
Impact of COVID-19 on Businesses and Industries
The impact has been swift and no one knows if all these jobs will ever come back. The jobs lost in these industries will slowly start having an impact on other industries such as finance, advertising, and technology. Consumers and small businesses who have lost their jobs or revenue will cut back on expenses and will start delaying loan payments, rents and even filing for bankruptcies. So, the second leg of this downturn will be an impact on financial services companies, marketing & PR companies, and technology companies.
The data over the last 100 years has shown that an average recession lasts 15 months and the deep recession in 2008-2009 lasted about 18 months. Given the actions being taken by governments all over the world, we can say this recession may be able to last between 15 – 24 months.
If you are a student who is thinking about applying for a study abroad graduate program, you need to think hard on what degree and course may position you well when you are getting close to graduate. Also, keep in mind, when you will be close to graduating in 2023, you will not only be competing for each open position with thousands of 2023 graduating students but tens of thousands of other laid off and furloughed workers. So, the key thing would be how to differentiate your profile from many other candidates in the recession-hit job market at that point.
Recommended Article: Job Tips for International Students During COVID-19 Crisis
Is it Worth Doing MS/MBA Abroad in 2021 due to COVID-19?
Many people assume that student numbers will fall in response to the current problems, but recessions tend to mean that people want more education because the alternatives – underemployment or unemployment – are worse, and having more skills can protect you against the economic chill winds.
– Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Source:Times Higher Education).
Here are my thoughts on what a young professional or a graduating student should think about in terms of deciding what degree to pursue.
Follow your interest and passion:
If you have an engineering degree and do not want to pursue a career in engineering at all, it may be time for you to either go for an MBA to switch fields, careers or just find a job that such as sales, business development or operations that may not require you to engage with in-depth engineering and science work.
On the other side, if you are significantly passionate about pursuing a career in finance, business or law, doing an MS in engineering will not be the right career choice. However, I still advise, a lot of engineering students to first come for an MS in engineering to the US, work for a few years before making a decision on MBA.
Having a strong technical degree and background always helps and will never be of waste. You do not need to look further than the career background of many of the successful immigrant CEOs and business leaders in the US. Many of them pursued an MS, worked for a few years and some of them went for their MBA before climbing the corporate ladder or starting their own venture.
Focus on developing skills, knowledge, and expertise in areas where job growth is happening or may happen in the future:
As it is always mentioned, develop knowledge, skills to focus in the fields and areas that have opportunities in the future. This is not only true for college-students but also for working professionals.
The fields that will be in demand in the future are in the areas of computer science, data science, data analytics, biomedical science, nursing, biotechnology, and many other technical and scientific fields. These areas will not only have demand growth but also higher compensation compared to many other careers and jobs.
Top College Majors that Pay Well During Recessions (Study by Yale University)
Most Popular College Majors to Study During Recessions (Study by the Institute of Labor)
So, as you can see, Engineering, Computer Science, Biomedical & Health Sciences, and Math-heavy (Quantitative) majors would be your best bets during the ongoing recession.
Companies will hire MBA graduates. But, MBA is an applied degree. To be successful in business, one does not need an MBA degree. They need to be good at sales, project management, teamwork and have an attitude to solve problems, drive innovation and be strong leaders.
It is always easier to get hired and an employment visa sponsorship if you have expertise in a specific area:
Most of the countries around the world look to sponsor immigrants who bring specific technical expertise, skillset to their country. Hence, it is better for a prospective study abroad aspirant to focus on staying in a technical field if their interest is to find a job in the destination country post-graduation.
Over the last 50 years, technical studies have been the path for millions of students to migrate and find a better job through the technical path. Thousands of students have gone for MBA programs but have over time moved into more technical fields like finance or analytics. Finding a job and getting employment sponsorship as a generalist is not easy and not a recommended path.
At Stoodnt, we always recommend a path of technical degree even in good times, not to mention when many of these economies will be going through a recession.
If you are interested in discussing more about what career and college path makes sense for you, contact a Stoodnt counselor and get guidance from an experienced hand who may have seen multiple recessions and how it will impact the job market in the future.
Author: Ajay Singh
Ajay is the co-founder of Stoodnt and spent 20+ years in senior leadership roles with companies such as American Express, Cendant and Intel prior to starting Stoodnt. He has a M.B.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Computer Engineering from U.T. Austin and B.Tech from I.I.T Roorkee (India).
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