Meet Courtney Cannon-Booth, a part-time BC MBA student and Executive Assistant to the CEO at Celtra. Here, she shares her advice for prospective students, covering everything from researching MBA programs to the importance of class participation. (This post was originally published on August 26, 2016.)
As a working professional and part-time BC MBA student, I often get a lot of questions from others considering this opportunity. Is it worth it? Where are you going? Do you like it? Do you have any suggestions?
An incredible amount of time and money goes into earning a second degree, so you certainly don’t want to waste either of those resources choosing the wrong program. There are countless tips and tricks I could give to those that ask, and it often ends up being a longer conversation than they probably asked for; however, I can never stress enough how important it is to find a program that supports you, your goals, and your schedule. Although it was hard to narrow down the list, these five tips can point any current MBA prospect in the right direction:
1. Do your research. How many core classes are there? How much does it cost? Are there online options? What is the schedule like and will it work with your responsibilities every week? What types of jobs have the alumni gotten post-graduation? Do your beliefs align with the school’s beliefs in terms of education?
Before you choose a program, you should know the answers to all of these questions like the back of your hand. Consider attending an MBA information session, designed to present students with their MBA program options, where you will have access to top admissions officers and be able learn from admissions panels and former MBA students.
2. Learn at your own pace. Choose a program where you have the option to learn as slowly or as quickly as you’d like (within reason). Explore programs that offer the self-paced option, which allows you to vary the number of classes you take per semester and offers the option to take classes during summer or winter breaks. If you are working full-time, discuss the time commitment with your employer to be sure there is enough of a work/life balance to accommodate your program.
3. Be engaged. Learning about other students’ experiences and sharing yours is one of the most vital learning experiences the MBA has to offer. MBA classes are a safe space to improve your public speaking skills, by encouraging your participation in areas that you may not yet be comfortable. Find a school that allows you to participate and learn from others in the most beneficial setting for your learning needs. If online courses are an option, choose a program that offers other opportunities to meet your classmates.
4. Choose your professors wisely. Ensure that your professors have experience that is relevant to your goals in each class, and take the time to research past students’ experiences in the classes you would like to sign up for. Prior to choosing a school, be sure that the caliber of the faculty aligns with your learning goals.
5. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! Get to know your classmates, professors, and advisors, and choose new partners and new teams for group projects. Attend social events and connect with your classmates outside of your program, as these are some of the most valuable connections you will ever make. I have found that current and former MBA students go out of their way to help others that are in the same boat. In fact, Celtra was co-founded by MBA graduates, and I’m confident that I was given this exciting opportunity because of my MBA status!
Start your b-school search at an MBA fair by meeting other students who are looking for similar experiences, and by asking questions that the schools’ websites do not answer. Once you’ve done your research, compile the information that means the most to you to choose the right school. Earning your MBA while you work is completely doable, and there are plenty of options out there to help you find the perfect fit. I can promise you: the time invested in researching is time well spent. Now get out there and get that MBA!