By Amelia Hopkins
An MBA is a huge investment, and for what it’s costing you, you want to get as much as possible out of the course.
You might think that, having studied at undergraduate level, you already have a good idea about how to make the most of higher education. But, studying for an MBA is entirely different and requires a different set of skills and preparation.
Here are our top MBA tips for choosing the right business school and making the most of your time when you get there:
Getting the most out of your MBA experience
Applying to business school is a very time-consuming process. MBA candidates have to research numerous MBA programs, cram for the GMAT, write multiple admissions assays and prepare b-school interviews.
With so much to do in the admissions process, it’s easy to forget that it’s only just the beginning of your MBA journey. To make sure you get the most out of your MBA experience, here are a few tips:
- Come up with your financial plan
- Focus on the full MBA experience
- Network anywhere and everywhere
- Be proactive during your MBA program
- Evolve your career goals as you go
- Apply for as many summer internships as possible
- Don’t get intimidated
But before you land a spot on the MBA program of your dreams, there are a few things you can do beforehand…
Visit business schools
The best way to understand the culture of an institution is to visit it. By looking around the campus, speaking to current students and faculty and seeing the facilities in person, you’ll be able to assess if the school fits with your personality and goals.
If you live too far away to visit, a virtual tour, coupled with thorough research, will give you a fair indication as to whether the school is a good match for you.
Speak to MBA alumni
No one knows an MBA course better than alumni, so try to speak to several ex-students about their experiences. Given the way we all feel about our alma maters, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s not willing to share their experiences. Try to pick those whose interests match your own, to provide you with an accurate vision of what could be in store for you.
Research yourself online
Before applying, look at your public profiles — how are you representing yourself? Either make all your social media profiles private or clean them up so that you’re presenting yourself in a mature and professional way.
Find your way around campus
There’s nothing worse than getting lost on your first day, so avoid that fate by looking around your institution before your classes begin. Take your timetable and walk to every class beforehand, so you’ll be able to find your way there easily when you need to. Most institutions offer tours of the various departments and facilities, so take advantage of these too.
Start growing your network
A big part of an MBA course is the non-academic side of things. Networking and making contacts are a major reason for attending business school, so make the most of the opportunity. Introduce yourself to everyone you can, and spend time getting to know your classmates and professors. Particularly seek out those with different backgrounds to your own. This is one of the best chances you will have in your life to meet such a diverse range of people.
Extra-curricular activities are not only an enjoyable way to meet people and break up your school-work schedule, they also help to impress potential employers. Most clubs will have a ‘try it’ session, so attend all the ones you’re interested in and pick a number to actively participate in. If you can, secure a leadership position in a society, as this looks fantastic in future job applications.
Think about your career
It’s easy to get swept away by the MBA experience, but remember what you’re there for: to advance your career. Make time to research your course options early on and ensure they will help in the pursuit of your goals. Speak to the careers department often and attend recruitment events to meet with potential employers.
The internship portion of your course is also very important for career progression, so prepare for it thoroughly and select a company you’d be happy working for — they might just offer you a job once your MBA is complete.
Practice your interview skills
Informational interviews offer you the chance to get a feel for the kind of interviews that you will be dealing with after graduation. They also provide the opportunity to explore different companies and introduce yourself to recruitment staff. Many MBA courses include classes which include informational interviews.
Make sure you’re organized
An MBA course requires a significant amount of juggling tasks, events and classes, so organization skills are essential. Before beginning the course, familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll use to organize your study, including study apps, planners and calendars. Once your course has started, make a timetable to plan out your time and stick to it — procrastination is your worst enemy. No period of your life will depend on your organizational and management skills more than studying for an MBA.
Engage, but don’t force your opinion
Contributing in class is essential, but that doesn’t mean you should railroad the group. If you have something to add to the discussion, do so and if you disagree with something, make that known, but don’t attempt to dominate the discussion. You’ll learn more by listening than you will by speaking, and you’ll make more friends that way too.
Find a way to relax
MBA courses are stressful, so offset this by finding a healthy way to relax. For some, it might be jogging, for others painting or reading. When you’ve found what works for you, set aside time each week to do it. Your anxiety levels will thank you.