Evaluating a Masters Program is never an easy task. Back in the year 2010, embarking on this very journey, I had an array of universities lined up to make one of the most important decision in my life (not really being aware of it back then). I would probably give you a different view now as opposed to then, if you asked me what influential factors go into zeroing in on an ideal MBA program.
I was a fresh graduate from college. A lot of people told me that I should immediately get into a master’s program to ensure the continuity of enthusiasm in professional education. As peer pressure nearly almost always wins, I gave in. I pictured a sense of ‘coolness’ (if that’s even a word) setting in with an MBA title. Getting this title was primarily my only motive. As a student who went to a college system where only grades defined your IQ, I thought no different about the MBA program.
However, what I learned from the MBA program put all my false perceptions at rest. Everything I assumed as the essentials in deciding what university I needed to go to were overshadowed with practical reality. I won’t go into details but here are a few key takeaways from this whole MBA experience:
1. Choose a university which thrives on diversity (doesn’t have to be in the ivy league). Understanding culture helps you do business better on an international platform.
2. Don’t even think about an MBA if you are doing it just for the title. Companies generally stress on a result driven approach from their employees. A title isn’t going to help you when it’s time for your performance evaluation (‘show me the numbers!–demanded the boss‘).
3. Gain a few years of experience before you embark on a MBA so you can contribute actively in interactions with your peers. You are going to basically be sitting ducks without the ability to challenge your peers who are more experienced than you. More ever you are not going to have the confidence to say anything against them because most of us assume people with more experience are right (right?).
4. Even with experience, go as an empty vessel and not with egos. Egos are your biggest roadblocks to learning (Period!). Why do you need an MBA if you already know what to do? In the words of my very experienced professor Dr. Robert Hanno, ‘there are no right answers in management, only a bigger picture’. Don’t try and prove yourself to anyone (you don’t need to). It’s all about what works and what doesn’t.
5. Turn everything you learn into a practical experience. Always redirect what’s been taught in the classroom to a practical scenario. Create multiple scenarios with practical applications of management techniques you learn about. Remember what you learn in B- school, are mere weapons to equip yourself with in the real world.
6. Channel your creative side (Almost everyone has an MBA, this might be your secret weapon). It’s not always the case that you implement techniques just like you learned in B-school. Every scenario beckons for you to act differently. Getting creative with the management techniques you learned will surely impress your boss and sometimes even yourself.
I came out of the program a completely transformed individual. It was evident with my friends and family back home that the MBA program made a man out of me. The international exposure and diversity only added to this enriching experience. I think the critical factor to success is to accept a change within you, a change you probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend with during the start.