Most incoming students might be probing what MBA School is like? I asked the same question roughly two years ago. Here is my MBA experience and hopefully you find this helpful.
- Know what you want to achieve out of MBA School. You won’t have a lot of flexibility in the first 3 modules in the courses you select, but you will have 5 modules to take courses that interest and challenge you. Don’t settle for the “easy A” courses; challenge yourself by taking difficult courses in areas you are focusing on, and also on courses that will help you in the future even if those courses aren’t within your concentration. E.g. you may not concentrate in finance, but taking financial valuation course will definitely help you in whatever concentration you have.
- Decide the industry and discipline you want to focus on. You can’t blindly come to MBA and try to figure out the industry and discipline you want after you get here. Make sure to have your top 20-30 companies in the industries of your choice. Not only this, try to include (if you can) the specific functions within your choice of field. E.g. don’t just say “I want to focus in finance” – this is too broad. Try to be more specific and select the area that interests you within finance.
- Networking is an essential skill you need to have whether you like it or not. Networking literally begins in the orientation period. This will continue in the internship and full time job process. You will even continue networking after you get a full time job. So whether you are introvert or extrovert, just be good at networking and make it seem like natural. Like everything else, it is all about practice and it is okay if you aren’t good at it initially. You will improve as time goes by if you put in the effort.
- Try to be good at time management and prioritize things. You will have lots of opportunities and also lots of challenges – you can’t afford to do them all. You have to pass the tough first year courses and curriculum schedule, internships, full time job etc. On the other hand, you will have a once in a lifetime chance of meeting smart students from all over the world. You will have the perfect place to test your ideas and worldview. Try to take advantage of this unique opportunity and challenge your assumptions and inner beliefs.
- In the end, MBA will go by so fast. So enjoy the challenge and moments that will stay lifetime with fellow students.
-Nahom Woldemariam, Penn State Smeal MBA ’15