Expand your network
MBA programs offer students the opportunity to meet and learn from influential people, such as instructors, classmates and industry professionals. “From business competitions, career networking events and experiential education projects, the opportunity to create connections and network professionally is limited only by the drive of the student,” explains Narongsak Thongpapanl, associate dean of research and graduate studies at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business. The new network acquired while studying for an MBA could help students land a desired job, break into an emerging industry or find a new mentor. Plus, alumni networks offer a connection to business professionals past, present and future.
New opportunities and community engagement
Regret not joining that student club during undergrad or not going on a semester abroad? An MBA provides the chance for experiences missed during a bachelor’s degree. “Opportunities will vary from school to school,” explains Teresa Pires, associate director of recruitment and admissions for Smith’s full-time MBA program at Queen’s University. “Within the Smith MBA, you can strengthen your leadership capabilities within a student executive role, pursue a double degree in areas such as finance, health-care management and digital business. If you are interested in going abroad to gain international exposure, you can participate in an exchange program.”
Gain relevant skills
The skills that are considered relevant today are constantly changing. While earning an MBA, students acquire knowledge and learn ways of thinking that consider the latest technologies and market conditions, with an eye on the future of business. “By gaining first hand experience, MBA graduates develop skills that are immediately applicable to employers today,” explains Farid Noordin, manager of strategic recruitment and enrolment at Alberta’s Athabasca University. “MBA courses require students to perform research, gather data and frame problems within a larger, real-world context. Lessons often centre around the students’ current work experiences, which means participants connect theory into practice.”
Flexibility in virtual learning
Several universities offer MBA programs virtually, lending greater flexibility to learners. “The MBA for executives at Athabasca University is asynchronous, which means students don’t need to log on for a specific date or time,” says Noordin. “Instead, they work at their own pace. This flexibility allows students to engage with their work when it’s convenient—whether they’re commuting on the train or sitting at a desk.” Virtual and asynchronous scheduling also means that students who are travelling for work, or have other obligations, can still participate in an MBA. “Individuals in the armed forces, for example, can pursue their career ambitions while being stationed overseas.”
Pivot your career
After earning an MBA, those looking for a career change become more hireable in other fields and industries. “An MBA can certainly be an asset in any industry,” Pires says. “Employers typically look to hire or promote a candidate with an MBA because they have fundamental business skills and technical skills in areas such as strategy, finance, analytics and marketing that others within the organization may lack.” Having an MBA can open up new career paths in product management, brand marketing management, management consulting, finance and health services management, to name a few examples.