by Victoria Young
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
Have lunch with the founders of a company that just made a multimillion dollar exit, see the CTO of the White House speak about the impact of Big Data, interview the CEO of a local startup for a class project, and end your night seeing traditional Japanese kimonos modeled at a cultural fashion show by your classmates. This is a sample of a very typical day in a busy week for me at MIT Sloan and is irrefutable evidence to me that my decision to get an MBA was one of the best I have ever made.
What ultimately makes an MBA special is the opportunity to re-experience something utterly unique: a return to the university, an environment rigged for learning, exploration, and connection. Escaping from the grind of professional life, you have an opportunity to rejoin an environment designed to help you develop academically, personally, professionally.
But like anything in life, an MBA is what you make of it. When done right, returning to a university can offer you a wealth of resources within a structured environment that will empower you to grow and fully realize your own potential. So, what are the best reasons for getting an MBA?
1. Meet Fascinating People.
The sheer volume of people you are exposed to while in an MBA program is jaw-dropping. Just taking into account my incredible classmates, there is a mezzo-soprano opera singer, Olympic athlete, and prolific tech journalist. Many of these people will become your lifelong friends who share your interests and aspirations. Throw in lunches, conferences, talks, hackathons, volunteer events, class projects and speakers (all of which happen every week), your exposure to fascinating people will not only inspire you, but help you learn valuable lessons. Which takes me to my next point…
2. Be Exposed To New Experiences And Ideas.
From classes to school-sponsored programs, you will have the opportunity to learn about and experience things you never even knew existed. MIT, especially, is rich with these opportunities, from hands-on action learning labs in India to study tours to visit companies like Spotify and Zara.
3. Accelerated Learning.
Of course, you also learn important skills and build a knowledge base that will help prepare you to create, manage, and lead an organization. In my rigorous 7-class schedule, I am often simultaneously working on my presentation skills, learning how to analyze decision models, and developing competitive frameworks. Unlike your experience as an undergraduate, you are now armed with years of real world business experience, so classes give you fascinating tools to apply to problems you have dealt with firsthand or will can easily foresee yourself encountering in the future. The material has context and therefore is extremely powerful.
4. New Doors Will Open.
This structure of accelerated learning will of course lead to new opportunities as recruiters, professors, and companies take interest in the knowledge you have invested in developing. Companies from Google to McKinsey actively recruit straight from MBA campuses. Want to start your own company? There’s no better place – most programs now have an accelerator and entrepreneurship building on campus, such as the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT.
5. Experience Personal and Professional Growth.
Lastly, you will experience extremely rewarding advances in your personal and professional growth. The challenges in the program will help you learn about yourself more and aid you far beyond just developing your presentation skills. The diversity of your classmates and experiences will give you a deep sense of self-awareness and empathy that can create defining self-growth at a critical point in your career.
Personally, I knew I needed to jump out of my comfort zone and into an environment that would be rich with resources and opportunities to spur my growth. Everything is what you make of it and finding the right program for you is a critical component of having a truly pivotal, valuable, and rewarding MBA experience. By knowing yourself and putting in enough due diligence to understand what each school can offer you, you can invest in an experience that will help shape and accelerate the rest of your career.