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Top reasons to do an MBA

Most applicants tend to gravitate towards the immediate short-term benefits of doing an MBA – a jump in salary, better job titles, etc. An MBA is ultimately an investment to improve your business knowledge, leadership skills, and network.  An investment that pays dividends over your lifetime as you continue your journey towards your ultimate career goal.

Learning about business

If you want to pivot your career towards a core business function but have never worked anywhere in those areas, you might be lacking basic business knowledge. To understand how companies function, you need to understand sales, marketing, HR, finance, operations, accounting, leadership, etc. Relying purely on learning on the job outside of an academic environment makes it very difficult to gain such cross-functional experience. Getting an MBA allows candidates to learn about these various functions in an intense and collaborative learning environment over a much shorter period.

These learnings are useful not only in a multi-national corporation but also in a startup. MBA applicants are usually ambitious overachievers with an ambition to launch their multi-billion dollar unicorn. It is not uncommon for future co-founders to get introduced to each other in an MBA program. On top of core business modules, candidates with an entrepreneurial bent can take on additional electives in entrepreneurship, such as fundraising or business planning.

Fast track your career

An MBA from a top program can speed up your career progress and potentially allow candidates to progress quicker through the organizational hierarchy. In some companies, getting an MBA could often be an unspoken or even a formal requirement to be considered for future management roles. Getting the skills and network from an MBA program, allied with their professional experience, allows candidates to put themselves in a great position to offer value to employers in a management level position.

Leadership in a multi-cultural environment

Business schools pride themselves on their ability to identify and groom leaders of the future. All top MBA programs offer various learning modules on leadership. The MBA also provides ample opportunities to candidates to prove their leadership skills – for example running student-led clubs or career trek organizations. Top B-schools are increasingly getting diverse applicants with various backgrounds, nationalities, and aspirations. This multi-cultural environment allows candidates to expand their horizons. It prepares them for careers in organizations where cross-cultural skills are valued just as much as traditional cross-functional skills.

Both in MBA essays and the interviews, candidates are asked to explain their reasons for getting an MBA. More specifically – Why MBA? Why now? And why an MBA from their particular school?  With a high number of applicants competing for very few seats, business schools are very selective about whom they admit into their programs.

For candidates from traditional pre-MBA backgrounds such as consulting or banking, getting an MBA is a fairly common practice. It almost seems like a rite of passage to progress through the ranks in these sectors. But this alone is not a good enough reason for the MBA admissions committee to make you an admission offer. It is sometimes harder for candidates from these backgrounds to stand out as individuals and explain why they need an MBA to achieve their goals.

If you already have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D., you might need to explain your motivation to get another degree. Specifically, why you think your goals are not achievable without adding an MBA on top of your graduate degrees. It is not uncommon for candidates with graduate or postgraduate degrees to do an MBA, especially for those switching careers. But these candidates need to dive deeper into their motivations and explain their choices.

If you are a younger candidate with under three years of experience or if you happen to be an older applicant with significantly more work experience than an average candidate, you need to explain your motivation. Less experienced candidates might need to emphasize how they can overcome their lack of professional experience and add value to their classmates. On the other hand, older candidates need to explain why an MBA at this point makes sense to advance their careers. Business schools want to ensure you are not just applying because you are stuck in your current role with no other way out.

Business schools are not looking for a perfect candidate who does not have any development potential left. They want to understand what role an MBA will play in your short term and long term career objectives. And how their MBA program will help you reach your goals.

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