Monday, November 22, 2010

Someone asked where do IMC students go after graduation?

IMC (Advertising Department) used to send almost 100% of the graduates in the late 1980s and early 1990s to marcom agencies advertising, PR and direct marketing. When these firms were merged under holding companies they still hired out students in IMC but also hired MBAs for the corporate offices.

After teaching MBAs for over a decade I found that they would and could work in any industry doing almost anything. Look around your office or room and ask if you are willing to sell anything you see and work for a firm that sells it. The inclination may define an some of the 265,000 MBAs who graduate each year. There are two attactions to hiring IMC students: 1. they use communications as a primary and unique strategic advantage to conduct business. 2. they like to work in the communications industry (agencies, media, publishing).

The 15 month degree is also a bit cheaper than some private school MBAs. All individuals considering graduate should seriously consider "running the numbers" or calculating the return on investment of the degree. You will need to search this blog site for help but also ask the schools 1. all direct costs (tuition, books, travel for classes) 2. housing costs in area as more or less costly than your current costs, 3. estimate loss of income from leaving work to return to school, not working while in school and how long it takes to find a job after graduation (a serious issue in this economy since it can be 6 months or more). What is the cost of borrowing and finally what will be the estimated increase in your salary based on earning a new degree (demand details here). Naturally you can add less economic factors like the value of pride of a graduate degree, meeting your life partner in school, taking time off from work, etc. But, please run the numbers to show that you are a business person with your own decisions.

However, at NU IMC students are educated and trained to be able to apply their in-depth knowledge of communications which is not taught in MBA prograsms to any type of company in B2B and B2C and NGOs and even government. They work in "marketing services", public relations, employee relations, branding (with some distinctions), investor relations, issues management and strategic planning and more.

While many MBAs are hired to work in brand management in consumer goods companies; IMC students are better suited to work on communications (rather than pricing, logistics and product issuues) of branding. There is some confusion in this hiring arena by HR professionals since MBAs may have taken only one or even no course on advertising and promotion, no courses on PR, media analysis and none on database customer analysis. Still, MBAs dominate the brand management hiring.

Of course, IMC students are just as entrepreneurial as as MBAs. They are able and willing to form their own companies (usually with a communications advantage). Search for IMC at Northwestern for a more comprehensive insight to the degree. If you want more information on the salaries, employers, careers of IMC students contact the school for details.

What should you ask before returning or entering graduate school?

Questions to ask (some are very sensitive but ask them anyway)
1. placement record and time to secure a job after graduation
2. scholarships or loans (not available for international students)- this will become a serious issue
3. percent of international and U.S. students (too many too few to learn from and what countries).
4. quality of placement (some call it the euphemistic "career planning") to get you a job with the companies and organizations supporting the school.
5. names of contacts of former graduates to hear the good and bad (not a short list of admission department names)
6. what has happened to the international students? Are they working in the U.S., is it even possible, does the school know where they are if they returned to their country.
7. is the program in professional education dominated by recent graduates with little or no work experience. Does this matter to you?
8. is the program a balance of men and women? Does it matter to you?
9. are they too many part-time faculty teaching in the evening (not available for meetings). Should classes be co-taught to get a mix of new research and thinking from doctoral faculty and new experience and contacts from industry faculty?
10. Is a part-time degree the best choice financially and personally to keep your hand in business? Is the return on investment (ROI) stronger?