10 Wishes for the MBA

I’ve been following the MBA, students and graduates for a long time. A lot of our discussions focus around things that the MBA doesn’t do. Many of these things we feel the program should be able to do but somehow it falls short of our expectations. So, instead of focusing on the shortcomings, I thought I would use this post to offer a few suggestions for improving the whole MBA experience. Imagine sitting in the front of the auditorium during your MBA orientation meeting and the director steps on stage to say a few things. Here’s what I wish they would say.

10. I wish they would tell students that specialization is not bad and is currently better than generalization. If you’ve earned the MBA and are looking to change careers, you probably already know this.

9. I wish they would tell students that they don’t provide a lot of career guidance.   It’s usually best to take advice from MBAs who’ve been in the corporate world for a while about the issues MBAs will experience. You also want information about the market as it is now and how it has been in the past few years. Getting advice from 20 years ago may not be relevant. That’s why you need to use MBA alumni groups. (shameless plug – read our ebooks at www.bt-books.com).

8. I wish they would teach students to communicate their value as an MBA.   This is important as more than two-thirds of MBAs are looking for a career change and will be asked about the value they will provide. If they can’t articulate it, it must not but be real impressive.

7. I wish they would tell students that they need to focus on differentiation. Earning the same degree everyone else is doesn’t help you take advantage of opportunities.

6. I wish they would tell students to focus on creating successes during their program. Earning the degree isn’t as powerful as they think it is.

5. I wish they would tell students to learn to work together and get to know each other. They’ll soon be asking each other for a job. So make as many friends as you can.

4. I wish they would tell students that networking is the key to finding a job. In fact, Networking is the key to just about everything you’ll get out of your career. Most of the accolades you’ll seek will come from someone else.

3. I wish they would tell students that internships are critical to getting into your desired industry. Some industries require experience, like private equity, before they’ll hire you. The MBA, without the experience, is useless.

2. I wish they would tell students that the job search needs to begin when you enroll, not when you are done. It’s so sad to see students unemployed after graduation. It shouldn’t happen. Give yourself plenty of time to get a job. Start early.

1. I wish they would tell students that the MBA is just a degree in fortune telling. Saying you know something about business is much different than proving it. You have to do some good things before people will believe in you. Remember, advice without a proven track record of success is speculation.

The MBA has greatly increased in popularity around the world. In recent discussions with companies around the globe, MBAs are graduating without the skills they need to be effective. Now combine this with the fact that most graduates don’t have a plan for their career, or even the first job, and you can begin to see why so many are struggling today. Nonetheless, the responsibility for your career is yours. Pointing fingers and assessing blame doesn’t help you any. Read, study, talk with MBAs and whatever else it takes to plan your career. You’ll pay a lot of money for that MBA and if you want to get a good return, you’ll have to plan it. Otherwise, the only thing you’ll see from it is a bill each month.

What do you wish for?

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