Five Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your MBA
Mary Reinhardt, the recently-retired director of Baylor’s Online MBA program, shares her best advice for making your MBA experience successful.
Five Tips for Maximizing the Value of Your MBA
From lifelong friendships to greater confidence at work, an MBA degree confers a wealth of intangible benefits. But let’s face it: The tangibles matter too. An MBA requires a significant investment of time and money, and you need to ensure that it is time and money well spent. If you approach your program without a game plan for making your investment worthwhile, you risk looking back and wishing you had done things differently.
Mary Reinhardt, who served as director of Baylor’s Online MBA program until her recent retirement, is dedicated to helping students make every day of their program count toward their future success. Here are her top five tips for maximizing the value of your MBA:
1. Put networking at the top of your priority list
Mary sees countless students miss out on valuable networking opportunities because they let networking fall off their priority list. If you are juggling a few too many balls and have to drop a few, make sure networking is not one of them.
Whether you are looking for a job now or a few years down the road, you need to accumulate industry contacts as well as company knowledge. Keep in mind that networking is not a one-size-fits-all activity. It may look like attending a group “Meet the Firm” event and taking the time to spark conversations that lead to interviews later on. It may look like adding your classmates on LinkedIn so that you have a potential resource when you are hiring or looking for a new opportunity in the future. It may look like joining a Baylor Professional Group or the MBA LinkedIn group to identify alumni who are willing to share their experiences and connections.
While networking can be uncomfortable at times as you stretch yourself beyond your normal social routines, it can also be enjoyable. If you find yourself dreading a standard coffee conversation, consider attending alumni watch parties or other social gatherings. People will usually be open to connecting when they are at their most relaxed. Football can be just as effective as coffee at building connections that lead somewhere.
2. Learn from your classmates
You will not make the most of your MBA degree if you view the experience as a zero-sum game in which your classmates are competitors. Instead, try to view them as collaborators with something to teach you. One of the primary advantages of learning shoulder-to-shoulder with people from a diverse range of industries and backgrounds is the opportunity to watch how someone else thinks and works. Notice how your classmates approach problems. Sign up for office hours to connect with other students in the same boat. You never know how you can help each other reach your goals more quickly. If possible, join one of the many study groups that form organically. At the Hankamer School of Business, several MBA programs maintain a map with pins with student locations so that you can more easily connect and form groups. One of the mantras of the online MBA program is “Be the classmate who helps.” If you do not need help in one class, you may need help in another class. The more you are open to helping and learning from your classmates, the higher your chances of success.
3. Show up as much as possible
MBA programs are about more than just assignments and exams. They are about connection. Take every opportunity you can to show up and visit campus. If you live out of town and happen to be driving through Waco, take an hour to stop by and meet a professor in person. Attend a football or basketball game. Stop by the bookstore and pick up some swag. Participate in your hooding ceremony. Bring your family so that they can celebrate your accomplishments. While technology has made it possible to receive high-quality education from a distance, physical proximity will help you buy into what you are doing.
4. Seek out experiential learning opportunities
MBA courses are not designed to be a theoretical exercise. To make the most out of your MBA program, do everything you can to connect the dots between theory and reality. If you are working full-time and studying part-time, this is not the time to compartmentalize. Use your job to test drive new skills and concepts, and, conversely, bring your experiences into the classroom to help others.
If you are studying full-time, seek out part-time jobs and internships to apply what you are learning, but do not stop there. The Hankamer School of Business offers incredible opportunities to hone your strengths and teach you how to work effectively on a team through case competitions, consulting competitions, international trips and volunteer opportunities.
5. Become a regular at Career Services
Whether you are just beginning your career or you have been in the workforce for 20 years, you can benefit from what our Career Services team has to offer. If you are interested in a career shift, take the time to work one-on-one with a specialist to explore how your strengths and passions line up with various career paths. Then, decide what skillsets you need to develop and let that drive your course selection. If you are entering the job market, work with Career Services to perfect your resume and LinkedIn profile, practice interviews, and participate in coaching sessions. The Career Services team will make you as marketable as you can possibly be. They will also help you navigate the minefield of salary negotiations. In the online MBA program, Mary points out, students can expect a 17-20 percent increase in salary with or without a promotion. Without a doubt, all that preparation pays off.
“One of the best parts of the job is meeting with alumni who return to campus and seeing the pride they have in all they have accomplished,” Mary said. “They put the work in, and now they have reaped the rewards.”
Are you ready to invest in your own success? Learn more about Baylor’s MBA programs by clicking here, or fill out the form below to speak directly to an admissions advisor.