To tell you why I pursued a Master of Business Administration, or MBA, I must first tell you why I chose my undergraduate major, meaning I must be honest with myself about two things:
1) I do not like making decisions (but have gotten much better over the years)
2) I like to be a little different
I like to tell people that I chose to major in Spanish because I couldn’t decide between Business and Education. Although that was a part of the decision, I truly did enjoy the classes and felt that my language skills gave me a broader worldview and a competitive edge. I minored in Business Communication because I wanted some business skills and classes on my resume to help me get my first job. I enjoyed those classes as well, and I liked the fact that business students thought my Spanish skills were cool (if only I had continued practicing!). I worked part-time during school and held multiple jobs during summer breaks. My education, combined with work experience and on-campus activities, helped me get my first full time job with a retail bank as an assistant branch manager. I felt lucky to get this opportunity without an extensive business background and worked hard to prove myself. Within a year, I was promoted to branch manager of a brand new location. I knew I was gaining valuable experience, but also had some concerns- opportunities to grow within the company were limited, the retail schedule was difficult for me, and I didn’t feel I was gaining enough banking skills to advance in a more traditional bank setting.
I decided to pursue an MBA to become more competitive in the business industry. The program I chose at Mississippi State University accepted students with a variety of backgrounds and degrees. Due to my previous work experience, I felt more prepared for the courses in the program, and I fully understand why some MBA programs have a work experience requirement. I took classes in marketing, management, human resources, accounting and more. In group projects, we worked with real-world clients to develop marketing plans and create business feasibility studies. Unfortunately, I had the job of telling a client that, after a semester of study and research, we recommend he no longer pursue his product idea because he may face legal recourse from the patent office. On the other hand, I also worked with a client on a product that is now available in Walmart. I benefited from these experiences because they helped to build the confidence I would need to excel in the business field.
When done correctly, an MBA sets a candidate apart in the workforce. The benefits gained from the variety of courses prepare a non-business student to be immediately effective in the workplace, especially when combined with skills and other work experience. When students are not serious about the MBA program, they do not reap its full benefits. The classes are meant to add on to basic knowledge of how businesses operate. Whether it’s getting along with co-workers or handling logistical snafus, the MBA program utilizes discussion to learn from others’ experiences. As a non-business major, the MBA allowed me to gain high-level business knowledge that would have taken years of “real-world” experience to gain. I improved my critical thinking and research skills, and learned to utilize the various strengths of a diverse team.
In my opinion, an MBA does not give new graduates the ability to skip entry-level positions, but it does offer professionals the abilities and skills to move forward in their careers at a faster pace and gives flexibility to change or transition careers. MBA programs are rigorous, the classes are diverse, and the projects are real-world scenarios. Pursuing an MBA is a great choice for those looking to quickly move up in their field or increase their career mobility.