10 Tips I Wish I’d Had Before Getting My MBA


Completing my MBA was a big step in my career, no question. But the journey to completing my MBA would’ve been so much smoother if someone had shared these 10 lessons with me before I started.

I want to save you the time and expense of learning these lessons the hard way, so I’m sharing them with you in today’s post.

First, what is an MBA? Good question, but first we need to answer another one: what does MBA stand for?

MBA stands for Master of Business Administration, a graduate degree that goes beyond the basics of business education and teaches leadership and technical skills needed to lead or manage a business. Many universities that both contain a business school and offer graduate-level instruction will offer an MBA program, often with numerous specializations to choose from.

With a basic definition in place, let’s jump into the 10 nuggets of wisdom I wish I’d learned a lot earlier.

1. Gain Work Experience First

Your MBA experience will be exponentially more valuable if you wait until you’ve gained some work experience in your desired field before you enter. Though it’s not impossible for an MBA student to enter the program straight from undergraduate study, doing so may not be the right choice.

Current career professionals who already have work experience and are seeking to further their skills tend to benefit more from the MBA degree because they have a framework and a context for applying the things they’re learning.

Many MBA programs offer professionals flexible terms and schedules so they can continue working while earning their MBA.

2. Refresh Your College Hard Skills

For some, this may mean studying for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), which is an integral element in some business school applications and may be required for admission to an MBA program. This isn’t a pass-fail exam; it’s a graded or ranked one, meaning the better you do, the better you’ll look to admissions departments. However, other schools do not require GMAT scores for some applicants – like Keiser University.

It may still be a good idea to refresh some of your college student hard skills before you start, even if you have significant business experience and don’t need to pass a standardized test. Maybe you haven’t written a formal college paper in a while, you can knock the rust off ahead of time. Revisiting research methods, APA formatting and even note-taking during a lecture can make the transition back to student life easier. Many business schools are aware of this shift for students and provide resources through their library or a writing studio.

3. Develop Your Soft Skills

Think about the most successful businesspeople you know. Are they unpleasant to be around? Hard to talk to? Bristly or avoidant?

There are exceptions to every rule, but you’re probably answering “no” to all those questions. Most people who are successful in business are (or at least know how to be) kind, empathetic, communicative, gregarious, and so on. They typically communicate effectively and are good listeners.

In other words, they have developed soft skills.

Why does this matter? Because a master’s in business administration isn’t going to spend much time teaching soft skills.

You’ll learn about analyzing data and business theory and all sorts of information and theoretical concepts that will help you excel in business. But all the business data in the world can’t make you a better communicator. It can’t make you kinder or friendlier, either. Those skills are just as vital, and we can all improve from where we are. So, start working on them today.

4. Get into the MBA Student Mindset

If you do already have career experience, you likely have some firm opinions about what works and what doesn’t. That’s good: you’ve attained some success, and you should be proud of that success.

But don’t let that experience or success stop you from learning everything you can or experimenting with concepts you’re initially skeptical of. That’s the MBA student mindset: a willingness to learn and experiment, always in search of better methods or ways to improve your current workflows and habits.

5. Network with Alumni

Many master’s in business administration graduates report that the connections they made during their studies were nearly as vital as the studies themselves. Indeed, that’s one reason the Ivy League and similar programs can command tuition north of $200,000: the networks students form simply by being in those programs (and gaining access to formal alumni networks) pay dividends for years.

Your MBA program has plenty to teach you. But unless you’re already working for your dream company, you’ll need a network of connections over the course of your career to help you reach your perfect job.

6. Lean on your Cohort

Some of the first connections you make won’t be alumni or faculty. The other students in your cohort are a resource worth investing in. Similar to your alumni network, your cohort has the potential to be your first points of connection into new businesses and markets. Some of them may even be potential employees of yours!

And in the short term, they can help you through the coursework. Learning in complete isolation is possible, but undergrad study groups exist for a reason. Imagine how much more powerful that concept can be in a graduate program where every student is intensely motivated to succeed.

7. Prepare for Your Post-MBA Career

If you’re studying full-time, make it a part-time job to prepare for what happens post-MBA. If you wait until graduation day to start exploring options, you’ve likely waited far too long.

Even if you’re studying while employed in a career position, don’t wait until graduation day to test the waters — either with your current manager or with other firms.

It’s possible to have a job (or a promotion) lined up well in advance of your degree completion. Start preparing early and keep developing and maintaining any leads you have throughout your MBA program.

8. An MBA Degree Doesn’t Equal Guaranteed Success

People make the same mistake with their undergraduate degree or their chosen institution: no degree, no connection, nothing can absolutely guarantee career success. Yes, an MBA absolutely helps numerous professionals advance, work smarter, and offer more to their employers. But success still depends on an individual’s choices.

Can a master’s in business administration give you a leg up? Absolutely. Can it do the work for you? No.

9. Utilize School Resources

Your graduate institution has a wealth of resources to help you succeed. If you aren’t sure what’s available, asking your professor or advisor (or enrollment team, if not yet admitted) is an excellent place to start. Take advantage of what you can, from your professors to your advisor to other professional staff members dedicated to your success.

10. Understand the Different MBA Specializations

While a general MBA is right for some students, many will want to specialize according to their desired career path. Institutions offer a range of MBA specializations, and not every business school offers the same ones.

At Keiser, we offer six unique specializations in addition to our general MBA program:

At Keiser University, we’re proud to offer a powerful MBA program that’s flexible to meet your needs. With online, on-campus, and hybrid study courses, we have something to fit the needs of every student and professional. In addition, we have dedicated advisors who are also professors that can guide and direct you.

Explore more about our MBA program today.



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