It is important to understand what an MBA can add to yourskillset before undertaking a program. Each program at different schools willrange from significantly different to essentially the same, so it is vital tolook at each one with these three factors in mind.
1. What skills will the MBA give me?
Previously, management education focused on analysis inareas such as finance and operations, with little attention paid to otheraspects of running an organisation. MBAs were often seen as out of touch withthe real world or business. Today, MBA programs have special emphasis ondeveloping leadership and interpersonal skills, providing a morevocationally-minded qualification.
You need to ask yourself if the MBA programs your consideringprovide the right type of practical training that will help your career presentand future. You may find alternative courses and qualifications are availableto develop the skills you need to succeed. An MBA is an expensive undertaking,which makes it vital to ensure you are getting what you want for your money.
2. Will an MBA advance my career?
There are no career paths where an MBA is essential. MBAsare optional degrees that are designed to give managers and executives acompetitive edge and add value to their résumés. There are many senior professionals in bigcompanies who don’t have MBAs, so don’t assume that the qualification will guaranteeadvancement in your chosen field.
You should map your intended path and see where the skillsan MBA can provide will fit. If it is something that will give you an edge inyour chosen field then it may be worth the time and money, however, don’t lookat an MBA as a silver bullet for success.
3. Will an MBA improve my professionalnetwork?
Business schools emphasise working in groups and MBA studentsoften learn as much from their peers as they do from the school itself. This makes it important to consider whoyou’ll be working alongside for the duration of the course and how thoserelationships will affect your career in the future. Schools often tout theiralumni as a selling point and it is true that access to this network is one ofthe most valuable benefits an MBA program can offer.
However, not all alumni networks are created equal. LargerMBA programs yield larger networks, but can lack the tight-knit community feela smaller one may provide. Again, you should look at your planned career pathto see where the support of an alumni network would be valuable and researchthe size, style and accessibility at each different school. Some alumninetworks are more active than others, so make sure you take a look at how, ifat all, graduates communicate with each other.