Starting Business School? Here’s How to Hit the Ground Running
You finally got in! After cramming for the GMAT and steering through the admissions process, you achieved your dream. In two years, you’ll earn your MBA. And all the false starts and sacrifice will have been worth it.
Well, not so fast. In a recent Forbes column, Matt Symonds argues that “the skills you cultivated to gain entry into business school are poor proxies for the capabilities you’ll need to succeed in business school itself.” To show MBA students how to fill their educational gaps, Symonds turns to Ivan Kerbel, Founder of Practice LLC and The Practice MBA Summer Forum.
Krebel, a former Director of the Career Development Office at The Yale School of Management, notes that many students start an MBA program without mastering the fundamentals of finance, operations, or marketing. As a result, these first year students can feel “overwhelmed.” This is particularly true for some international students, who must also adapt to a different language and culture.
To help these students transition to MBA level curriculum, Krabel recommends online study programs, such as MBA IQ, MBA Math, or GMAC Essential. He notes that many business schools offer pre-term orientation courses to help students get up to speed. Most important, Krebel encourages MBA students to conduct a self-evaluation, to measure their academic, professional, and cultural readiness. Otherwise, students may risk losing out on the business school experience:
“As you weigh your options, consider the opportunity costs that you are likely to face as an MBA, and whether or not you will mind having to learn about using pivot tables in Excel when you could be spending that time interacting with classmates, professors, employers, and alumni…in short, taking advantage of all that is unique to business school.”
“After I graduate, I’m going to…”
Everyone has said that at one point. But some MBA students are getting a jump on the real world. This week, US News and World Report examined the trend of b-school students starting companies.
The approach has its advantages. For example, some programs like Vanderbilt University help students network with alumni and friends who can fund their fledgling enterprises. Carnegie Mellon University gives student teams up to $10,000 to seed their start ups – and Texas A&M will award grants beginning this fall. What’s more, running a business on the side can help students put their education into action for immediate returns.
However, there are tradeoffs. Some student entrepreneurs sacrifice their grade points in pursuit of hands-on experience. Since many courses are structured around group projects, these students risk stirring resentment among their peers if they don’t have enough time for team assignments.
Despite this, running a business in B-school has an advantage that cannot be replicated: Recruiting! Germain Boer, Director of Vanderbilt’s Owen Entrepreneurship Center, encourages students to identify classmates who are good at their weaknesses. He notes that when students “get through with that process, [they’ll] have probably a decent management team.”
Source: US News and World Report