A few years ago, I spoke at a conference of the African American Student Union, Harvard University. During the question and answer session a young man asked: “Why would someone with a Harvard MBA choose to go into the janitorial business instead of a more sophisticated profession?”
After taking a deep breath I responded. “I admit there is nothing glamorous about my industry. You’re right, it is not an industry where you will find many MBAs, much less a Harvard MBA. But I’ll let you in on a secret: It’s better to own the mop than to push the mop.”
As youngsters, many future entrepreneurs have vivid dreams of being business owners. They envision their product or service and sometimes try their hands as entrepreneurs by creating childish items to sell.
Such was not the case for me. Growing up in a sleepy farming village in Virginia, I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur. Everyone I knew worked for someone else. My unexpected entry into the world of entrepreneurship happened years later, after graduate school.
Getting my MBA from Harvard Business School, I anticipated becoming a corporate executive. Little did I know that corporate America was not breathlessly awaiting the arrival of a young black woman with a Harvard MBA, even if she was the first black woman to get such a degree. Not one corporation recruited me, and I did not rush to seek them out. During the six years after graduation, I held four jobs. From time to time I wondered, “When will I get to use this MBA?”
Ann Fudge, who rose through the ranks at Kraft General Foods before taking the helm at Young and Rubicam, explains how she approaches hiring and layoffs.
Ann M. Fudge is the Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Young & Rubicam Brands, a global marketing communications network. Fudge received a BA degree from Simmons College and an MBA from Harvard University. She served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Young & Rubicam from 2003 to the end of 2006. Prior to joining Young & Rubicam, Ms. Fudge worked at General Mills and at General Foods, where she served in a number of positions including president of Kraft General Foods, Maxwell House Coffee Company and president of Kraft’s Beverages, Desserts and Post Divisions. Ms. Fudge is a director of Novartis AG, the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation and is on the board of overseers of Harvard University.
According to a recent CareerBuilder college survey, one-in-four hiring managers say relevant experience is the top thing they look for in a new graduate. If you can find a paid internship or can afford to take an unpaid one, more power to you. You have a head start on the job market. For the rest of you — even if you’ve never worked in an office — your college days have given you more experience than you might think. You just need to strategically market your campus activities.
Engineering and technology dominate the highest-paid majors in 2011, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, Bethlehem PA.
Chemical engineering majors are at the top, with an average salary offer of $66,886. Computer science majors are at #2, with an average offer of $63,017. Information sciences majors were offered an average $56,868.