There are many reasons to pursue a Masters of Business Administration degree. While many potential students focus solely on the impact an MBA could have to their future salaries, and the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2013 Alumni survey found the median annual salary for MBA holders was $100,000, the impact stretches far beyond a bigger paycheck.
Professionals with an MBA have an increased network of business contacts, a wealth of practical real-world case studies they can apply on the job, as well as a well-rounded outlook on economic issues both within and beyond their chosen industries.
Expand Your Mind AND Your Network
MBA programs provide amazing opportunities to strengthen and expand your network of business contacts and associates. First and foremost is the opportunity to build deep and long-lasting relationships with fellow students. Writing for Forbes, Eric Jackson says, “You go through a tough experience like getting your MBA together and it’s hard not to make a few friends along the way.”
And as these friends graduate and begin to expand into the professional world, so does your personal network. Continues Jackson of your classmates, “Friends of their friends will probably be potentially invaluable contacts for you down the line.”
Scott Shrum, vice president of marketing and director of MBA admissions at test prep and graduate school admissions consulting firm Veritas Prep says, “one of the best reasons to get an MBA is the exposure you will gain to people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Your network will grow and you’ll learn a lot. That exposure has lasting business value.”
But more than just your fellow students, an MBA program grants you access to professors, guest lecturers and an existing alumni base that can provide guidance, insight and open critical doors for you in your career. “If you want to be great, you’ve got to learn what’s made great people great,” Jackson continues. “You’ve got that chance when [guest speakers] come through and talk.”
Best of Both Worlds
While many weigh pursuit of further education against the benefits of practical work experience, a great MBA program offers both. Peter von Loesecke, the CEO and managing director of The MBA Tour, an independent organization that hosts events around the world, says MBA students gain knowledge through case studies, group projects, networking or real-world experiences in corporations. These experiences help broaden viewpoints and change thinking.
“An MBA will teach you to think holistically when solving problems,” von Loesecke said. “In today’s business world, you have to learn how to look at the influences, work in groups under pressure, make decisions – even when the facts aren’t clear – and be flexible enough to change those decisions when needed.”
Shrum agrees. “The [MBA] is designed to help you think more as a manager should – critically, strategically and globally,” he said. “That marriage of educated and practical problem solving could prove the perfect combination to potential employers who value both in-class and on-the-job experience.
Learnings Beyond Your Experience
And finally, the idea that our world is shrinking every day isn’t new. But from a business perspective, there is a potential to carry learnings from one industry over to another in order to recognize efficiencies and opportunities. And while professional experiences keep you focused on your specific industry, MBA coursework is designed to broaden your horizons.
“If you worked in manufacturing before and now you want to focus in on finance, you can do that,” Jackson said. “If you did accounting, but want to focus on private equity, you can do that to.” The varied exposures can help you gain a broad base of understanding outside of any professional experiences you may have had so far. You can even intentionally focus on a new field as part of a long-range career plan. And in increasingly complex and competitive job markets, cross-trained thinkers who demonstrate knowledge of a wide variety of subjects can stand above others with more limited viewpoints.
Plus, as MBA programs are increasingly made up of international students, Jackson says that the opportunity to gain international insight and experiences from a diverse set of classmates can only strengthen your value to potential employers. “It is really important these days that you get out of your little perspective of whatever your last job was in your little corner of the USA.”
Pursuing an MBA is a big commitment. Considering the many benefits, beyond just the monetary impact, can help you better understand how valuable an MBA can be to your professional development.