I'm a Computer Science major, working as a programmer. I'm also finishing an MBA, and would like to gain some experience in that direction: management/human resources/business development.

I've spoken with the VP of HR and she will be keeping an eye out for such opportunities on my behalf. In the mean time, however, I want to also speak with the VP of my own department and ask him if there's any way in which I might gain some relevant management experience.

I worry what would be inferred from the question(that I'm not interested in my job, or will soon quit, etc.).

How could I formulate this question in such a way that I won't bring negative consequences onto myself?

  • great! negative vote without a comment. – ejboyd Dec 10 '15 at 15:54
  • 4
    Not my down vote, but your question sounds like borderline personal career advice, instead of a general question. Do you want to know how to ask for more responsibility in your current job? Cross-train? Is management aware of your impending MBA? Have you had discussions with anyone about this? Do you have a more specific question related to how to handle obtaining an MBA mid-career? Add some details or modifications please. – Jim Dec 10 '15 at 16:06
  • I'm not looking for career advice. Just how to pose the question without it being interpreted the wrong way. I'm not looking for a raise, promotion, or to leave the company (at least not immediately), but I fear that it might be come across as that. – ejboyd Dec 10 '15 at 16:36
  • 2
    after thinking more about your question, you might want to re-word the question as, "I'm in a job and about to finish an advanced degree (MBA). What can I do to gain related experience and still stay with my current employer?" or something like that... – Jim Dec 10 '15 at 17:44

I'd be direct about it. "Hey, boss, you know I've been working on n MBA... I'd like to start applying some of what I've learned. Canyou think of any tasks that need to be done where we could take advantage of this training?"

Since I'm still not convinced I see the value of an MBA, I can't advise re what kinds of tasks go look for.

|improve this answer|||||
  • I'm not looking for any specific tasks. I've talked with the V.P. of H.R. in person, but I know her and I think it is easier to convey that I'm not trying to leave the company with her. The V.P. of my department has been in that role just 6 months and he works in a different state. My direct boss is pure software, but the V.P. is business development. I just worry what could be inferred. – ejboyd Dec 10 '15 at 16:48

As a programmer finishing an MBA you will need to switch jobs to gain MBA related experience. Your VP should know this. While some jobs require splitting time between management and technical skills, those roles don't always naturally exist and sometimes need to be created. This means the issue is whether your new job will be with the same company or not.

Set up a meeting with your VP to remind him/her that you are about to complete your MBA. Assure the VP that you are interested in staying with the company. Ask what the VP sees as possible during the meeting. Maybe offer suggestions. Active engagement from the VP is required if you want to both stay with the company and use your new skills.

If you are met with resistance or no action is taken after some time has passed (even a follow-up call or note to assure you that steps are being taken), then you should plan to find a job with another company if you want to use your new skills. It might be a long time, if ever, before a role is found or created for you. Your "new" MBA could become a relic on the wall instead of a career change after a few years.


Based on your comment that the direct boss is pure software and your VP is "business", this is still valid although you may want to talk to your boss first. Inferences aside, the fact remains that you are getting an MBA and likely will be overqualified for your current job. Their best moves are either to do nothing or advance you. If this threatens your boss, then it is not a new threat. The news here is that you are about to complete your goal, while before you may have failed.

A conversation with your boss about what this means to your boss is polite. Mention that you want to put your skills to use and intend to talk to the VP about opportunities. Assure your boss of your dedication to the team and project and ask if there are options within the team.

Your only other option is to look for another job without these conversations, but to most managers that would be just as obvious due to the lack of communication and questions about internal opportunities.

|improve this answer|||||

You have to play political. That's a good thing, as the position you're looking for is much more political than your current one.

  • Get friends in different teams
  • Use them to know what kind of open positions in their team could be of interest to you
  • Get friends in the hierarchy above positions that are of interest to you
  • Advance.

A direct, standard approach to your boss might work, but it"s far less likely. You can ask him first what kind of more business-oriented openings there are. But don't expect miracles there. Prove that you're good at managing humans by managing humans...that are not(yet) under your command.

|improve this answer|||||

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.