7 Overlooked Reasons to Get an MBA
“I want to make more money.”
“It’ll help me get into McKinsey.”
“I don’t want to get pigeonholed in a specific role.”
“It’ll look cool to have MBA after my name on a business card.”
OK, maybe that last statement is a reach. But the promise of bigger paychecks, prestigious jobs, and influential networks are a big draw to b-school applicants. In reality, they only reflect a result. Your pedigree and executive presence may help you land a job. But it’s what you learn in an MBA program that gets promoted you into an even better one.
You can learn hard skills from any textbook. But persuading five diverse and accomplished peers to buy into one strategy? To develop those soft skills, you need practice. And there is no better laboratory for that than business school.
Recently, Admissionado, an admissions consulting firm, quizzed recent MBA graduates on the most important skills they gained from business school. Looking for the tools that differentiate leaders from lifers? Check out these underappreciated competencies from business school:
* Leadership: “The most important soft skill I learned was how to lead and manage people who I had no direct authority over. There were many opportunities in b-school where I got to lead a bunch of my classmates from clubs to conferences to social trips. Technically, they were all my peers and did not “report” into me. So figuring out how to motivate and guide them to do what I asked was the biggest skill that I was able to gain by experience. There were many classes that I took that set the frameworks such as leading and managing teams and power in organizations, but learning by doing was the best resource/opportunity. Now I use the skills that I gained almost every day in the workplace. Everyone works on cross-functional teams where you would need something to be done by another person who is not your direct report. So this soft skill really comes handy to figure out how to manage people and adapt to different work styles. B-school was a fail-safe practice ground for the real world because everyone was in the same situation so you can make mistakes and learn/adjust your approach.”
– Tony Shan, Kellogg
* Teamwork: “Darden’s heavy student-driven culture meant that I was part of a 6-person “learning team” that did all our cases together each night. Given that we’d completed 100 cases in the first month, this meant hours each night spent with the same group. Put 6 strong-willed, type A’s in a stuffy, small room together, and discussions are bound to get heated. However, I gained stronger listening and synthesis skills from this sometimes-stressful environment – learning to up my active listening skills and extract from my teammates what the “real deal” was – not an easy feat, given our different points of view – and then synthesize what I heard into my own decisions. This has served me invaluably since Darden. Regardless of your post-MBA career, you’ll be working with some sort of team…and you need to know when to speak, when to listen, and how to wisely identify the key learnings revealed. You’ll be a stronger team player AND leader for it!”
– Leslie Curry, Darden
* Negotiation: “Without a doubt, negotiation is the top skill I learned. Figuring out what the other party wants. Understanding your BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement). Pursuing win-win solutions. Negotiation is core to a lot of basic activities: Decision-making, human interaction, employment, relationships, you name it. If you’re by yourself, knowing what’s most important to you helps guide your actions. If other parties are involved, negotiating helps you co-exist peacefully (and even happily!). During business school, I took a class named negotiation, the most sought after (and lauded) class at Wharton. I’ve notice that the more entrepreneurial and creative I am, the more negotiation comes in handy. New partnerships, lucrative contracts, interesting employment opportunities all require my negotiation skills, something I become more aware of during business school.
– Bryan Lattimore, Wharton
Sales: “The most important soft skill is “sales” or the ability to sell. Regardless of what post-MBA career path you choose, you will always be selling something. You will have to sell yourself to land your dream job, you may have to sell your company’s services or products, or sell your idea as an entrepreneur looking for funding. During my MBA at Wharton, I took advantage of Communications and Negotiations classes to hone in on my ability to build a sound argument, persuade others and deliver my story. As a startup Founder, I use these skills every day when speaking in front of large audiences, pitching the startup to new clients or customers and potential advisors or investors, and signing up new brand partnerships. I’m constantly selling myself as an entrepreneur, my vision for the company and our products and services. Sales is often an under-rated, under-taught, and under-practiced skill, but it has been the most important skill in my career.”
– Uven Tang, Wharton
For read about additional overlooked skills, click on the Admissionado link below.