width=280Despite experiencing a good number of mergers and acquisitions over the past five years, notably Procter and Gamble's acquisition of Boston mainstay Gillette, Boston is still home to some of the most recognized MBA recruitment brands. Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Fidelity Investments, and Liberty Mutual, to name a few, all regularly visit campuses to recruit MBAs. These goliaths of campus recruitment, and others like them, have grown accustomed to enthusiastic MBAs knocking on their door in pursuit of positions in finance, consulting and international business.

But look beyond these renowned institutions and you'll find an assortment of interesting companies in Boston who are getting far fewer unsolicited applications from MBA students. And from the job requirements noted in the careers section of their websites, also appreciate what an MBA can deliver. Who knew these firms existed? Who knew they were in Boston?

The reality is that MBA graduates need to be more creative these days in choosing careers. Spots in the rotational programs, investment banks and consultancies are as competitive as ever, and some MBAs are deciding they don't want to play that game. If you're an MBA student in Boston thinking about taking a path less travelled, there are a few less prominent companies in the Boston area that might be worth exploring. They're global, they're medium-sized and they're, well, creative. Read this, and you'll be more clued-up than most Bostonians.
Off the beaten track

Warning! These companies may not be advertising, or even running, an MBA campus recruitment program. But so what? It's not about the campus-recruiting program; it's about the job and the company. And in this economy, less competition from your classmates is a good thing.

Let's start with robots - that's pretty creative. Headquartered just north of Boston is iRobot, an international manufacturer of robots that can help you with everything from vacuuming the bottom of your pool to reconnoitering no-man's-land in a war zone. Like many other technology companies in the Boston area, iRobot was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates and has expanded internationally. The company hires plenty of engineers, but at the moment has several business-related openings for which an MBA is preferred.

Located just outside of the MIT campus, PegaSystems builds business process management (BPM) technology that helps companies optimize the efficiency of their internal processes and retain agility as they become larger. This sounds like a lot of business jargon until you consider that MBAs are supposed to be all about process optimization, leading change and company growth. This connection isn't lost on PegaSystems as a great deal of the many positions they have posted on their website call for an MBA.

While technology is important, let's not forget that beer is also big business. The Boston Beer Company - the brewer of Samuel Adams, and the winner of a string of beer gold medals from Helsinki to Melbourne - manages a number of international consumer brands from Boston's shores. The Boston Beer Company has been known to hire MBA summer interns and product managers over the years.

Maybe you've ordered free business cards from our next company; or perhaps free logo design services. VistaPrint was recently ranked number five on the Boston Globe's 'Growth 50' ranking for 2009. An online graphics and marketing company servicing small businesses and do-it-yourselfers, it has been growing wildly over the past 15 years. Although the company isn't heavily involved in recruiting on MBA campuses, MBA grads have a place at VistaPrint. Typically candidates who hold MBAs have worked on some interesting internships that have... help[ed] prepare them for a fast-paced, data-driven environment like VistaPrint, says Stacey Schmidt, a recruiter working at the company. Lead recruiter Will Pallis adds, The business training [MBA students] receive helps prepare [them] to almost run their own business or organization internally within VistaPrint. While an MBA would not be the only deciding factor between a hire and a non-hire, it can increase the candidate's chances of receiving an offer from us. Those interested in international e-commerce may find the possibilities at VistaPrint exciting.

Finally, we come to the business of music. Founded in the 17th century by an Armenian alchemist, Zildjian cymbals now makes its home in an industrial park in the suburbs of Boston. The oldest family-run business in the United States, Zildjian is still run by the Zildjian family. Then there's Steinway Musical Instruments, the internationally famous piano manufacturer, who tout their pianos as a sound investment, and run their business from just outside of Boston. Zildjian and Steinway are not frequent visitors to MBA campuses for recruitment. But then again, many of the most interesting companies aren't.

MBA students waiting for the above companies to appear in their school's career center will be waiting a while. But the world of MBA recruitment clearly stretches beyond the borders of your campus. And for those MBA students willing to venture out, Boston holds opportunity in places they may never have imagined.

Although the unemployment rate in the US is hovering around 10%, Boston is faring better than the rest of the country. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts dropped to 8.8% in January from 9.3% in September 2009. Boston's health care and life sciences companies have been counter-cyclical players through the economic downturn, hiring more people while other businesses were forced to cut back. Technology, green energy and higher education are also leading the Boston area out of the recession.

The health care industry, the largest private-sector cluster in Massachusetts grew by 5.4% from the fourth quarter of 2007 through the first half of 2009. IT is only behind health care as the largest employment sector in Massachusetts. Software engineering already employs more people in Massachusetts than during the '.com boom' times of 1999-2001. With software engineers and computer science jobs rated one or two for job growth over the next decade - the momentum is aligned behind a good recovery in 2010.

In fact, in a recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts' Donahue Institute, researchers polled IT businesses, asking what regions of the world presented the best opportunities for growth - 51.5% listed Massachusetts.