Tag Archives: networking
April 20, 2017
Every spring, many prospective MBA applicants start seriously considering whether this is the year to apply for business school. Before deciding what type of program you will attend, selecting your school, and determining your application strategy, you need to make the crucial decision of whether an MBA is the right next step for your life and career. Think about the reasons why you want an MBA, and what your alternatives are.
Reasons for Pursuing an MBA
Are you seeking an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While your MBA could be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.
1. You’ve learned as much as you can in your current role and crave something more. If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.
2. You have a new professional goal. Ask yourself what you plan to accomplish after your MBA. If you know what your long-term goal is, that’s a great way to start. What do you need to know to accomplish that goal? How does your resume need to look? What skills do you need to build? And who do you need to know? Think about the aspects of that future that will be developed through your MBA and your short-term post MBA career.
If you are not someone with a clear long-term goal, critically consider what you think the MBA will do for you. Business school offers clear skill building in teamwork, leadership and practical skills like accounting and finance. There is also a strong professional network you will build with classmates and alumni.
3. You need the degree to move up the ladder. If you are seeking advancement in a career where an MBA is valued, it may be an important next step. If you are simply looking for a larger salary or a change of pace, make sure that an MBA is the right professional degree for you to pursue. Applying for business school is an expensive and time consuming activity, and that’s before you even start school! Dedication and passion for the path you are embarking upon are crucial.
4. You’re missing key skills that an MBA program can provide. Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.
5. You want to significantly expand your professional network. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university and to countless professional opportunities beyond graduation. While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100K, keep in mind the network of contacts you build during your MBA experience truly is priceless.
Having a Plan B
While considering your reasons for pursuing an MBA, it will be useful to consider a common b-school interview question: “What will you do if you are not admitted this year?”
Sometimes the answer to the “Plan B” question can be revealing. If you think that you would give up your pursuit of an MBA and either return to a prior career path or pursue a completely different goal, it may not be time for you to dedicate this spring and summer to applying to MBA programs.
When you consider plan B and you find yourself answering that you will spend the year preparing to reapply and continuing to develop yourself for your future career, you are likely a dedicated prospective MBA. If you were not admitted, you might find yourself thinking that you would volunteer more, and build your knowledge and skill set in your chosen career path.
Once you have decided to pursue an MBA, the next steps are to consider your school options, develop your strategy and refine your goals as you plan for beginning your essays in a few months.
Photo credit: Eric at Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
April 28, 2016
Everyone knows that a huge part of the b-school experience is creating a network that you’ll be tapping into for the rest of your career. But what if you’re naturally shy, or simply hate the idea of networking because it makes you feel phony, opportunistic, or just plain “dirty”?
The majority of international students at U.S. MBA programs come from Asia, where the cultural differences related to networking are stark. Even European students often find it awkward to send introductory emails or chat up strangers at networking events. Career centers in turn worry these cultural differences put international students at a disadvantage during their internship and job searches.
In the May issue of Harvard Business Review, professors Tiziana Casciaro of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, and Marvam Kouchaki of Kellogg School of Management share strategies for making networking not only more bearable, but perhaps even enjoyable for the networking-averse among us.
The quickest way to flip the switch in your negative mindset about networking? Stop making it about you.
For example, at a networking event, take the focus off of yourself and instead focus on the other people at the event. The researchers discovered that when people focus on how they can help others — instead of how others can help them — the act of networking suddenly takes on a different tone.
“When you think more about what you can give to others than what you can get from them,” they write, “networking will seem less self-promotional and more selfless — and therefore more worthy of your time.”
The professors offer other strategies to help recast networking in a more positive light, including how you can make the focus about learning, identify common interests, or assign a higher purpose to the practice. Take a look at the original article on Harvard Business Review and see if their tips alleviate some of the discomfort you’ve been feeling up til now.
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Image credit: Amir Kurbanov (CC BY-SA 2.0)
April 13, 2016
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Business school graduates benefit not only from a solid return on investment through substantial salary increases, but also by deepening the knowledge, skills …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
Business school graduates benefit not only from a solid return on investment through substantial salary increases, but also by deepening the knowledge, skills and abilities they will need for future professional success.
Here are just four of the key career benefits MBA programs can offer.
1. Transferable skills: Business school gives you new skills and knowledge that will turbocharge your career. While MBA students often set their sights on a job in finance or consulting, the hard and soft skills acquired during an MBA program are transferable to myriad other roles. Today, you’ll find an increasing number of MBAs working in tech, health care, consumer goods, government and nonprofits, and many other industries.
The skills typically strengthened during an MBA – leadership, intellectual creativity, analysis and critical thinking, cross-cultural awareness, communication, even greater IT mastery – will serve you well as you find your way toward your ultimate career goal.
You may start out at a financial firm such as Morgan Stanley and learn a tremendous amount about banking and analysis before deciding that it’s not a good fit, as happened with my client, May. She built upon those skills when she eventually became involved with running a business as a gourmet food importer. Once you have a deeper understanding of the complexities of the business world, those problem-solving skills mastered during your MBA will carry over to your next position, and the one after that, too.
2. Higher employment rates: Having an MBA is a powerful tool that can increase job security with your current employer or within your current industry. When the Graduate Management Admission Council released its latest annual poll of employers, it forecasted robust 2016 hiring that reflects high demand for MBA graduates. A whopping 96 percent of responding employers agreed that hiring business school graduates creates value for their companies.
The MBA degree is also a powerful differentiator in a crowded marketplace. Recruiters have said that some of their corporate clients will not consider any candidate without an MBA, which shows just how much business leaders value this qualification. Employers believe it vets potential hires; you can safely assume an MBA graduate from Harvard Business School or the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania is going to bring considerable skills and business acumen to the job from day one.
Without a doubt, companies appreciate managers who have risen through the ranks, know the business inside and out and can get the job done. But they also like hiring MBAs for their ability to handle complex situations, be nimble and adapt in the face of a rapidly changing global environment. As outsiders, MBA hires can provide a broad or fresh perspective to see how to improve inefficiencies or come up with innovative solutions to business problems.
3. Degree specializations: Most MBA programs offer specializations or concentrations that allow you to do a deep dive into the nuances of a particular industry. These courses provide students with an opportunity to sample a few different industries or career paths to see whether it’s a good fit before taking the plunge.
Adding a concentration to an MBA is a good move for people who know exactly what they want to do with their career and who want to build a stronger skill base in that area. If you already know that you’re interested in something really specific, such as digital marketing, real estate, business analytics, social innovation, health care and so forth, earning an MBA with a concentration can make you even more marketable.
In today’s competitive job market, listing a concentration on your resume helps you stand out. However, if you are a career switcher and still testing the waters, you would be better off focusing on a general business education instead.
4. Networking opportunities: At business school, you’ll interact closely with talented individuals from all over the globe, which enhances the experience by exposing you to different business practices, cultures and points of view.
The connections you make are, for many, the single most valuable aspect of the MBA, so make sure you capitalize on the opportunities in and out of the classroom during your MBA studies. Your alumni network helps you stay connected to the university as well as to countless professional opportunities you can tap into throughout your career.
While the quality of the education at the most elite programs is guaranteed across the board, when you’re spending two years of your life and paying more than $100,000, it’s the network of contacts you build that make your MBA experience truly priceless.
Image credit: e3Learning (CC BY-ND 2.0)
January 18, 2016
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The idea of pursuing a second MBA degree may sound strange, but it happens with a small number of applicants during every admissions …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
The idea of pursuing a second MBA degree may sound strange, but it happens with a small number of applicants during every admissions season and can make sense under the right, very specific, circumstances.
Some applicants consider a second degree after earning an MBA from a for-profit university or an unaccredited program. They may find they have hit a ceiling with their employment prospects as they vie for positions against candidates from better-known schools.
More often, people who seek a second degree are international candidates who have discovered that their professional dreams cannot be fulfilled with their current degree alone.
In India, for example, it’s common for a student to jump into an MBA program straight out of university, which makes for a very theoretical learning experience rather than a practical one in which to contextualize management problems. Once these MBA grads get into the workforce, they discover they must further develop various skills to become strong business leaders.
For professionals working in international firms who aspire to relocate abroad, a degree earned in-country will not open doors the way a highly ranked MBA from a name-brand university will. A second MBA is seen as an efficient way to move out of a stagnant career and enhance their competitiveness, allowing the degree holder to shift into a new function, industry or geography after completing their studies.
Creating a rich classroom experience through diversity is a huge focus of the top business schools, offering students the opportunity to interact with peers from an array of countries and professional backgrounds. While the educational component of the degree in South Asian business schools, for example, may sometimes rival their international counterparts, the ability to create networking ties across the globe is nowhere near as strong. For career switchers looking to break into competitive industries such as finance or consulting, earning an MBA from a globally recognized brand becomes paramount.
As with any blip or oddity in candidates’ background, they need to think through their story as they prepare application essays.
What did you not get from a prior MBA that you can get this time around? How is the target program different, or a better fit? Or maybe it’s a matter of timing, and the first one was a mistake you need to acknowledge. What skills are you looking to gain, and why couldn’t you acquire them with your first degree? An applicant needs to show why it would make sense to repeat the same degree from a different school. It can be a hard narrative to flesh out and tell in a compelling way, but it’s not impossible.
When I first read through the profile for our client Vijay, I saw strong academic numbers, volunteer involvement, an interesting entrepreneurial venture – and that he already had an MBA from one of the Indian Institutes of Management. My first question was the same any admissions committee member would ask him: “Why do you need a second MBA?”
Vijay entered an IIM program when he was a university student to supplement his engineering coursework. While he had received an MBA credential, he considered the degree as an addendum to his undergraduate diploma. Also, his degree did not provide the same career advantages he would get from one of his target schools in the U.S., which were the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
For his career goals essay, we discussed exactly what this second MBA degree would do for Vijay’s career. We also used the optional essay to clearly outline how specific coursework in entrepreneurship, international experience and networking opportunities at each program made a second MBA absolutely necessary. His hard work and compelling argument paid off, and Vijay pursued his second MBA at Sloan, where he made some great contacts for future entrepreneurial ventures.
Many top business schools in the U.S. and Europe welcome applicants who already hold an MBA degree. If your first MBA is from a smaller international school, the elite programs are well aware of their advantages over the initial degree. Fortunately, your prior MBA degree won’t be a problem for on-campus recruiting, though you should be able to explain why you needed the two degrees. Assuming you have a solid story, the emphasis will be on your work experience and skills. If you are admitted to a strong program, the degree — combined with your skills — will enable you to land a great job come graduation.
Contact the admissions department at the programs you are interested in to find out the specifics for each school, and be ready to make a rock-solid case for why a second MBA is the next logical step for you.
Image credit: KMo Foto (CC BY 2.0)