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I'm in my early 20's, and working for my masters degree in a technical field. However, recently I have fallen in love with project management/leadership for nonprofits - and am considering a second degree in business (my BA+MA will be done in four semesters total - yes, I'm quick).

What would you consider to be the most useful areas to study, in terms of becoming effective as a manager? HR? Marketing? Sales? Or would you advise against obtaining a second degree?

[i](Please note that there is no extra cost for the extra BA except the time, since university is free of charge in my home country. This means that a double degree is much more attractive than in the US - especially since I am way ahead of my age group in my studies.)[/i]

bflynn's picture

Degree or double degree? Yes. But don't do it for the purpose of moving into management. Companies usually do not hire first time managers, they promote them. If you have a business degree, I think you can count on getting hired as a "business technician", but not as a manager. I differentiate that in that a manager manages people. Business technicians administer processes.

If you want to be a manager, get into a great job where you can do well. Be incredibly successful at your job, let your boss know that you'd like to manage and you're very likely to get promoted into management.

Brian

magnum's picture

Thank you for replying. That's a very valid point and one that - while obvious in retrospect - I hadn't thought about.

As Mike would say: "You mean that academic qualifications alone won't make me a manager?" :wink:

On one hand, it seems that experience is irreplaceable. That implies that I should keep on acquiring more practical experience. On the other hand, if I am going to aim for the necessary papers I might as well try to find a specialty that is of high utility for dealing with people. Do you think there is such a field/specialty?

bflynn's picture

[quote="magnum"]On the other hand, if I am going to aim for the necessary papers I might as well try to find a specialty that is of high utility for dealing with people. Do you think there is such a field/specialty?[/quote]

Others may have different opinions - if I were in the role of a hiring manager in the US, I can think of no degrees that I would associate with having learned to work with people. The best might be a general business degree or psychology, but the people link is weak. I would still associate both degrees more with the technology/science behind them than with people.

Brian

Mark's picture

Glad you're thinking strategically.

Don't get a second degree. Do something else with that time. Get a job that is driven by people skills. Volunteer at a non-profit, rather than studying them. Do an internship.

TIME is the issue, not qualifications.

Mark