dr. Mary Mason is the CEO and founder of Small medical school.
One of my favorite business school professors said that an MBA is “like a gold star on your forehead.” It can signal to employers that you are willing to go the extra mile to achieve your career goals. I often get phone calls from colleagues asking if I recommend an MBA in today’s world. Here are some reasons why an MBA can be a good choice to advance your career.
1. When you hit the glass ceiling
Armed with your bachelor’s degree, you go to your first (or second) job in the hopes that if you work hard, you’ll trade that cube for an office with a window. Unfortunately, your boss or HR may want to see more than just undergraduate work on your resume for a management or leadership role. An MBA can be one way to amaze hiring managers. Be sure to consider whether taking time off to pursue a full-time education or continuing to work while taking an overnight/weekend MBA is best for your current situation. If there is student finance from your employer, that is an extra bonus.
2. Exploring New Areas of Expertise
Say your bachelor’s degree is in marketing or English, but you really want to be in finance. An MBA is a great way to transition into different career paths. Most MBA programs allow you to tailor your schedule to gain expertise and a deep understanding of your desired area of concentration.
3. Expand your company network
Linked and professional organizations can only get you so far. My MBA class was packed with students from different sectors. It was refreshing to sit in a classroom with people from more fields than just healthcare and hear about their experiences and new approaches to business problems. Now I have a great network of classmates, former professors, and business school and university alumni. I’ve relied on that network throughout my career to identify new hires or suppliers.
4. Starting Your Own Business
An MBA, especially a program with an entrepreneurship track, can be a great way to take the kinks out of your start-up idea and tap into the expertise of experienced professors. Aspiring entrepreneurs can often have their entire business plan in place by the time they receive their diploma and are ready to get the plan started. You can also hone your skills in leadership, budgeting, marketing, strategy and operational excellence, which are essential to starting a successful business venture.
5. Improve your communication skills
Many of us underestimate the importance of the soft skill of communication. The MBA curriculum is often built around working in teams, with the students focusing on having strong communication skills. Class presentations, both solo and in groups, are great ways to prepare for future boardroom discussions or maybe even your TED talk.
The decision to go back to school to get an MBA should not be taken lightly. It can mean long hours combining your existing job with schoolwork and time away from your family and friends. However, having that “gold star on your forehead” can translate into higher pay, more opportunities, and more job satisfaction for those who decide to go back to the classroom.