Life After The MBA: What’s Next?
Congratulations! You did it… you finished your MBA. It’s an extraordinary achievement and especially so if you juggled your study while working full-time or raising a family (or both!). You’ve worked hard, stuck to it and proven your capability and tenacity. But then, life comes to a halt. You’ve spent the last two or so years dedicating most of your free time to the MBA, and now it’s all over, and the reality of that can be quite jarring. So, now what?
Take the time to celebrate and reconnect
What’s the first thing you should do when you’ve finished your MBA? Take it all in. Rather than stress about what’s next, take some time to sit back, relax and let the enormity of your accomplishment sink in. Now is the time to celebrate and reflect!
Show your appreciation to those who helped you along the way, too. From your partner who was your emotional rock throughout your studies, to your kids who understood that Mum or Dad had a little less free time for the fun stuff. Perhaps it was your parents, colleagues, friends or mentor – the celebration is for them as well.
You may have, unintentionally, neglected some of your friendships and relationships because of your busy schedule. Once you’ve finished the degree, reinvest some time in those bonds – the ones that matter most to you.
Share the love, but don’t forget about self-love too. You got yourself here and you should be very proud of that.
Find your new normal
When you were in the thick of the MBA, you probably dreamed of having free time. A whole weekend free from study to do whatever you wanted, guilt-free: what could be better?
However, now that you’ve earned that free time, you might feel a little lost. You’ve been adhering to a strict schedule for so long that your newfound freedom can leave you feeling unmoored. You’ve earned the right to feel proud of yourself, but if that pride comes with a sense of loss, you’re not alone. The shift in identify from student to actual graduate takes some getting used to.
When you’re an MBA student, you are constantly challenging yourself and learning new things. Once the MBA is over, continuing to embrace challenge will help you avoid the postgraduate blues. Think of all the things you’ve been dying to try but not had the time for over the past few years. Is there a hobby you’re keen to try, or a skill you’d love to hone? Now is the perfect time to give these things a whirl. After all, you’ve earned an MBA… how scary could skydiving really be?
Apply the knowledge you’ve gained
Studying a practical, real-world programme like the AIB MBA, you would have been applying the concepts you learned from subject to subject in real time. But that doesn’t mean the utilisation of your newfound knowledge and skills stops when you graduate. After the MBA, now is the time to really test out some of the ideas you’ve been cultivating to showcase your skills in the workplace and position yourself for advancement.
Don’t forget to demonstrate your soft skills either. By completing an MBA, you’ve proven to yourself that you are self-driven and excellent at time management, communication and problem solving. Those are highly transferable skills that make you valuable to any employer.
New graduate tip: Rather than on-selling your textbooks or removing the ebooks from your devices, hold on to them. There’s a pretty big chance you’ll want to refer back throughout your career.
Think about your medium and long-term career goals
So, you’ve earned the respected qualification that speaks volumes about your business skills, perseverance and professional credibility. But how do you now turn that into tangible career outcomes?
For most graduates, the MBA helps them to work out where to take their career next. It may be validation that the path they’re on is the right one for them, and it may open their eyes to a new field of interest. Regardless of which it is for you, now that you have everything you learned from the MBA in your toolkit, it’s time to lay down some career goals and map out what you’ll do to reach them.
Is it time now to put your hand up to lead a project at work or talk to your leaders about progression opportunities within your company? Perhaps you should really get busy networking at your local industry events, or shine up the old resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile to reflect what you can bring to employers as an MBA graduate.
Whatever your goals are, if you plan out the path you’ll take to achieve them and take action, your MBA will support you in your next career step.
Consider further learning opportunities
The last thing you want to do after slogging through the MBA is plunge into even more study – or is it? If you’ve found that completing an MBA has whetted your appetite for learning, you’re not alone: many of our students go on to further study.
Your next step depends on your career goals and also what piqued your interest during the MBA. One possible path is to do a DBA or PhD which will build on the concepts you’ve already studied and allow you to conduct your own research in a business area of interest. Another is to pursue a certificate in a subject area that sparked your interest during the MBA. You could also look at obtaining professional certifications in your field or a field you want to move into.
After the AIB online MBA, the next step for Mark Nesci was to take on a director course with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Watch Mark’s MBA story here:
If you’re done with study though, that’s ok too! You just earned a Master’s degree that will give you a variety of tools to excel your career.
New graduate tip: If you want to share your knowledge and give back, consider a mentoring relationship with a junior colleague. Teaching the concepts that you’ve just learned will help consolidate and extend them in your own head, offering new challenges and experience working with others.
Stay in touch with your peers
Throughout your MBA, you’ll engage and collaborate with fellow students from a diverse range of career backgrounds; people you may not have connected with under any other circumstances. This is certainly the case for AIB students, who bond with peers globally via AIB’s online student communities and class forums. Some form friendships that stick far beyond the study period and many build their professional networks with the students and graduates they connect with along the journey.
After the MBA, keep this kinship alive by maintaining the relationships you made. Connect with your classmates on LinkedIn, reach out to them when you’re in need of advice from someone with their expertise, and share job opportunities you come across that are suitable for MBA graduates. These are just some of the ways you can stay in touch on a professional level.
New graduate tip: Join your school’s alumni networks to keep in touch with your fellow alumni and your business school, and add your MBA degree to your LinkedIn profile.
Completing an MBA doesn’t mean that your journey is over. In fact, it’s just beginning. You now have the insights and hopefully the confidence to take your career to the next level, so take a short break and then a deep breath before you head for the next challenge.
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