How to Grow Your Career While You Study The MBA
The MBA remains the most popular postgraduate business degree and most versatile of its kind, chosen by professionals at all levels and, increasingly, across all sectors. There are many reasons as to why it’s so popular: from its holistic curriculum and practical learning opportunities to the skills developed and refined throughout the MBA, and the networks students build.
Regardless of whether a student is motivated to study the MBA with a particular career outcome in mind, or they’re looking to sharpen their professional skill set and update their business knowledge, each subject gets them one step closer to achieving their goals.
MBAs like the AIB MBA are tailored to help graduates achieve their career goals, but that doesn’t mean students have to wait to complete the degree for their career to benefit from it. MBA students regularly experience career progression while undertaking the programme as they leverage their learning and the reputation of the degree.
In fact, in the 2020 AIB Alumni Insights Survey, one in four of AIB graduates shared that they received a salary increase while they were studying the degree, indicating the value MBA students have and will continue to have upon graduation.
Here are our top 6 tips for growing your career while you study:
- Let your employer know that you’re studying an MBA from day 1 and take them on the journey with you. It will show that you’re committed to your development and striving to grow.
- Apply what you’re learning in your degree at work! Your leaders and colleagues will see how valuable and practical your studies are proving to be, boosting your professional currency at work.
- In your MBA assessments, apply the subject concepts to your company, the business challenges they face or a past professional experience. This is encouraged at AIB where all assessments are workplace-focused and see students work with real problems to produce real solutions.
- Update your LinkedIn profile to highlight your MBA studies and share study updates with your network as you go. This will broadcast your career investment and ambition to a wider audience and enhance your professional credibility.
- As an AIB student, you’ll be a part of a global network! Take advantage of that by connecting with your peers, sharing and seeking career advice and forming study groups. Outside of your business school, attend industry events and conferences too.
- Have a clear vision of the career goals and outcomes you’d like to achieve. Set yourself short term goals that you want to achieve while you study, and long-term goals to focus on post-graduation.
Now, let’s discuss in more detail how MBA students can leverage their degree to advance their careers and achieve career wins and milestones before they even graduate.
Practical learning practices enable students to demonstrate how they add value
Practical MBAs like the AIB MBA are built around real-world business cases, facilitating a learning method that blends theory with practice and allows students to apply the subject matter in their workplace. As students progress through the MBA and tackle business challenges in their assessments that are relevant to their workplace, they’re able to implement their learning at work to drive change and greater efficiencies. By doing so, they’re able to showcase the added value they bring while studying – something that doesn’t go unnoticed by employers. Outcomes can include recognition from the employer, greater job security, new projects and responsibilities awarded, promotion opportunities and salary increase.
Jimmy Bangun, an AIB MBA graduate and Business Development Manager, applied elements of his learning while he was studying to achieve real results for his company. He explained:
“There’s a lot of content that I could apply immediately at work which helped greatly in my role. Our business has expanded overseas and we’ve doubled our fleet in the past year – that’s a result of the new knowledge I acquired through the MBA.”
As each subject is studied, the MBA helps connect the dots between the various business areas, adding a strategic element to an individual’s knowledge. It allows students to contribute more purposefully to projects and challenges, seeing them perform at a higher level and grow within their roles.
Half-way through his MBA, Rodney landed himself a new job on the other side of the company with Compare The Market as their General Manager of Banking. He completed his MBA the following year and hasn’t looked back since. He’s sure that the fact that he was studying an played a big part in getting the role.
Students develop the confidence to ask for more
Increased self-confidence is one of the most valuable ‘soft skills’ developed as a result of studying an MBA, and it’s often noted by students as one of the most unexpected outcomes. With every concept mastered and applied in a practical sense, subject completed and career benefit experienced, confidence levels increase. This validation of their abilities gives MBA students the drive to seek out new opportunities, ask for more from their employer and expand their career goals beyond what they thought was in their immediate future.
This was the case for AIB MBA graduate Ted Cofie, who attributes having the confidence to start his own business to the MBA experience. Ted knew there was more for him to learn, and as he progressed through the programme, he was able to take his idea to the next level. Ted reflected on the role confidence played in his entrepreneurial success:
“I always knew I wanted to start my own company in some way, and the MBA gave me the skills and confidence to do it. Now when having conversations with heads of business units, I can speak with authority and confidence.”
Knowledge is power as it fuels self-confidence, leaving individuals feeling undoubtedly better equipped to take on challenges and pursue their goals sooner rather than later.
An MBA student’s credibility and perceived value increases
Part of the power of an MBA is the well-respected reputation it has and how this reflects on its students. When someone chooses to study an MBA, it indicates that they’re driven to achieve their goals and not afraid of hard work. An MBA student who is juggling work with study is practicing precise time management, refining their communication skill set and displaying admirable perseverance. Each of these characteristics are valued by employers and potential employers, and are recognised by peers and industry connections. MBA students can leverage the reputation of the MBA and their growing credibility while they study to edge closer towards achieving their career goals, whatever they may be.
When AIB graduate Lucinda Collier started her MBA journey, she set herself the goal to achieve a national role in her field within a five-year timeframe. Just 12 months into her degree, while still studying, Lucinda achieved her goal – the speed of which surprised even Lucinda:
“My goal before starting the MBA programme was to get a national role in health and safety or quality management. An opportunity came up while I was studying and I applied for it, thinking I probably was not quite ready yet, but I was successful.”
Although a student will have not yet completed their degree, they’re able to benefit from the reputation of the MBA. It indicates their level of dedication, ambition and commitment to excel in their career – all very desirable qualities in an employee. Had Lucinda not understood the value and credibility the MBA holds, she may not have had the confidence to apply for the role at all.
Read more: How the MBA Can Make You More Competitive
It’s important to remember that the MBA is a long-term commitment, with results continuing to be achieved long after graduation. During the degree, we’ve seen a number of cases where the MBA has helped students reach their goals faster – whether it be small workplace wins, all the way through to large-scale promotions and complete career changes.
Also read: How the MBA Can Help You Land Your Dream Job
Click here to get the AIB MBA information pack and chat about your career goals with an AIB Course Advisor.