10 tips I wish I had before getting my MBA
Completing my MBA was definitely a career milestone. But the journey to completing my MBA would have been so much easier if someone had shared these 10 lessons with me before I started.
I want to save you time and money learning these lessons the hard way, so I’m sharing them with you in today’s post.
First of all, what is an MBA? Good question, but first we have to answer another one: what does MBA mean?
MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, an advanced degree that goes beyond the basics of business education and teaches the leadership and technical skills needed to lead or manage a business. Many universities that contain both a business school and offer graduate-level education will offer an MBA program, often with many majors to choose from.
With a basic definition in place, let’s jump into 10 nuggets of wisdom I wish I had learned much sooner.
1. Get work experience first
Your MBA experience will be exponentially more valuable if you wait until you have gained some work experience in your chosen field before entering. Although it is not impossible for an MBA student to enter the program directly after their undergraduate studies, it may not be the right choice.
Current career professionals who already have work experience and are looking to further their skills tend to benefit more from the MBA because they have a framework and context to apply the things they learn.
Many MBA programs offer professionals flexible terms and hours so they can continue working while earning their MBA.
2. Brush up on your college tech skills
For some, this may mean studying for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which is a standard part of some business school applications and may be required for admission to an MBA program. This is not a pass or fail exam; it is a graded or graded program, which means the better you do, the better you will go to the admissions departments. However, other schools do not require GMAT scores for certain applicants – such as Keiser University.
It may still be a good idea to brush up on some of your student’s technical skills before you start, even if you have significant business experience and don’t need to take a standardized test. Maybe you haven’t written an official memoir in a while, you can get rid of the rust in advance. Revisiting research methods, APA formatting, and even note taking during class can ease the transition to student life. Many business schools are aware of this change for students and provide resources through their library or a writing studio.
3. Develop your relationship skills
Think of the most successful businessmen you know. Are they unpleasant to be around? Difficult to speak? Spiky or avoidant?
There are exceptions to every rule, but you’re probably answering “no” to all of these questions. Most successful people in business are (or at least know how to be) kind, empathetic, communicative, gregarious, etc. They generally communicate effectively and are good listeners.
In other words, they have developed soft skills.
Why is this important? Because a Masters in Business Administration won’t spend a lot of time teaching soft skills.
You will learn to analyze data and business theory, as well as all kinds of information and theoretical concepts that will help you excel in business. But all the business data in the world can’t make you a better communicator. It also can’t make you nicer or friendlier. These skills are equally vital and we can all improve where we are. So start working on it today.
4. Get into the mindset of MBA students
If you already have work experience, you probably have strong opinions about what works and what doesn’t. That’s good: you’ve achieved some success, and you should be proud of that success.
But don’t let that experience or success stop you from learning all you can or experimenting with concepts you were initially skeptical about. This is the mindset of MBA students: a willingness to learn and experiment, always looking for better methods or ways to improve your current workflows and habits.
5. Network with alumni
Many Masters of Business Administration graduates report that the connections they made during their studies were almost as vital as the studies themselves. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why the Ivy League and similar programs can charge tuition in excess of $200,000: the networks that students form simply by being in these programs (and accessing formal alumni networks) pay dividends for years.
Your MBA program has a lot to teach you. But unless you’re already working for your dream company, you’ll need a network of connections throughout your career to help you land your ideal job.
6. Lean on your cohort
Some of the first connections you make won’t be alumni or professors. The other students in your cohort are a resource worth investing in. Similar to your alumni network, your cohort has the potential to be your first points of connection to new businesses and new markets. Some of them may even be your potential employees!
And in the short term, they can help you throughout the course. Learning in complete isolation is possible, but undergraduate study groups exist for a reason. Imagine how much more powerful this concept can be in a graduate program where every student is intensely motivated to succeed.
7. Prepare for your post-MBA career
If you’re studying full-time, make it a part-time job to prepare for what’s to come after the MBA. If you’re waiting until graduation day to start exploring options, you’ve probably waited far too long.
Even if you’re studying while working in a career position, don’t wait until graduation day to test the waters, whether with your current manager or with other companies.
It is possible to have a job (or promotion) long before you graduate. Start preparing early and continue to develop and maintain any leads you have throughout your MBA program.
8. An MBA doesn’t mean guaranteed success
People make the same mistake with their undergraduate degree or their chosen institution: no degree, no connection, nothing can absolutely guarantee career success. Yes, an MBA absolutely helps many professionals advance, work smarter, and deliver more to their employers. But success always depends on individual choices.
Can a Masters in Business Administration give you a head start? Absolutely. Can it do the job for you? No.
9. Use school resources
Your graduate school has a wealth of resources to help you succeed. If you’re not sure what’s available, asking your teacher or counselor (or the enrollment team, if not yet admitted) is a great place to start. Take advantage of what you can, from your teachers to your advisor to other professional staff dedicated to your success.
10. Understand the different MBA specializations
While a general MBA is suitable for some students, many will want to specialize based on their desired career path. Institutions offer a range of MBA specializations, and not all business schools offer the same ones.
At Keiser, we offer six unique specializations in addition to our general MBA program:
At Keizer University, we pride ourselves on offering a powerful and flexible MBA program to meet your needs. With online, on-campus, and hybrid courses, we have something to meet the needs of every student and professional. In addition, we have dedicated counselors who are also teachers who can guide and direct you.
Learn more about our MBA program today.