One thing that seems to be on the rise in our little corner of the academic world is an interest in joint degree programs, be it combining an MBA with a policy program, a more niche degree (such as a masters in something very quantitative), or the tried-and-true JD-MBA, there has been a push to fuse a business education with “something else.” This is especially true at Harvard, where HBS is always a powerful draw for our clients, but also boasts Harvard Law and the Kennedy School, creating truly dynamic and elite pathways for students seeking a joint-degree program.
We have established that MBA networking should begin well before business school and that some schools have better networking than others. What we haven’t really covered yet, are the nuts and bolts of networking and how you go about doing it effectively. Below is a baker’s dozen tips for building a network which will pay dividends as you apply to business school, as you attend business school and as you dive into your post MBA career…
I was working on our Michigan Ross Strategy Memo over the weekend, when it occurred to me just how overlooked a "unique perspective" is when it comes to MBA applications. Even here at Amerasia, where we work hard to push our clients away from thinking in terms of "impress the reader" and towards "connect with the reader," we sometimes lose sight of how just what an easy and effective way that can be to frame introspective writing. Because Michigan Ross has the MAP program and everything funnels towards what perspective you bring to the class, it became a good reminder and something that felt worthy of passing along.
For the third year in a row, UCLA Anderson comes out on top when it comes to sending MBA graduates (as a percentage of all graduates in 2016) back into the entertainment & media industries.
NYU Stern remains a respectable 2nd, maintaining its spot since our last entertainment & media career ranking. No surprises here.
MIT Sloan now leap frogs into 3rd place from its prior 4th place ranking. This is a bit of addition by subtraction. Last time around MIT Sloan had 4.3% of their MBA graduates enter the entertainment & media field. This time it was only 3.6%.
Wharton moves into 4th place from 7th, growing their percentage from 2.4% to 3.2%.
We are often reminded (and rightly so on the one hand) that finding a common thread in our careers is an important step in convincing the admissions committees you have been progressively responsible and focused, and have not just meandered through your professional life.
While finding that common thread is indeed a critical exercise to not only ensure you are ready for the b-school application process, but also to judge whether or not you have a solid vision for your future, a trap that often ensnares b-school applicants and alumni alike is worrying too much about the logical progression of your career trajectory from a narrative point of view. Applicants often become distracted or obsessed about finding this “theme” in their careers to the point that they force a round peg into a square hole just to try and make everything connect.
A business school’s network is usually one of the top reasons someone chooses an MBA program. Leveraging both the b-school and also other alumni from a particular school can pay dividends when advancing your post-MBA career, so wisely considering which school will meet your needs in that area is a critical component of the b-school selection process.
One of the best payoffs for attending a good MBA program is the instant network you receive around the world through all the living alumni from your school. You not only obtain access to alumni from the b-school, but also to undergraduate alumni as well. This network can benefit you well beyond landing your first job or two, and will pay dividends throughout your entire career.
We can all likely remember our high school days when our English or Lit teacher required us to keep a journal. The painstaking process of writing down what you did every day typically found everyone frantically making up journal entries the night before it was due, since most had bypassed the daily ritual in favor of the other distractions of youth. Your English teacher was on to something, however, and for those who are disciplined enough to keep a daily log of your thoughts and adventures can find it easier to lay the introspective groundwork that is required for a good MBA application. Why?
It may sound strange to think of a school having a personality, but the culture found within the walls of the most popular business schools can vary just as widely as the personalities of people.
Finding the right fit between a school’s culture and your own personality can be tricky and is not something you can ignore if you want to be happy and maximize your potential in an MBA program.
Of course “knowing thyself” is the first step in finding a good match with any institutional program.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you thrive in a competitive environment or do you prefer to operate with an “everyone wins” approach? Do you have a learning style that is energized in the classroom from lectures and discussions, or do you come alive through hands-on, experiential learning? These considerations can help you tune into the programs which will align with the way you are wired, but they don’t even begin to address all the things you should consider. Simple phase of life situations can also affect how well you will dovetail with an MBA program. For example, some programs have mostly single students, while others have a large population of married students, even many with children. Often, schools with more single students do more social events where you end up hanging out with your classmates after classes or on weekends. Does that sound appealing or like your worst nightmare? Even the average number of years of work experience at an MBA program can radically affect that school’s culture, since age is often correlated to maturity and level of seriousness.
Once you do a thorough self-assessment and have a strong feeling for your personal preferences, you can begin to assessment of the schools themselves.
Some schools have a similar culture, and are sometimes associated with each other, such as HBS and Darden, or Fuqua and Kellogg, but don’t think that such reputations mean these schools are exactly the same. Subtle differences can sometimes make a big difference. As an example, Chicago Booth is often compared to Wharton, but did you know that at Wharton, students are ranked? This creates a healthy competition amongst students, but could also add stress to your time there. Often, feedback from Wharton students indicates they are fairly miserable during the program, but tend to enjoy their post-MBA careers more than other program’s graduates.
As we have mentioned before, the best way to ascertain the personality of each school is to visit in person.
Surfing a school’s website or even chatting with current or former students will only get you so far, but visiting a school, sitting in on a class and personally interviewing faculty, staff and students can reveal insights which are otherwise elusive or superficial if only viewed from the outside. You would never marry someone without dating them first, and you should be thinking of b-school in a similar way. Making the wrong decision could derail your career and seriously impact your post MBA happiness. Let us guide your school selection process—you might be surprised how much it can help.
Finding the best MBA programs in the world is not a difficult task. To be sure, resources abound which slice, dice and rank top programs from just about every angle imaginable. The digital age has made this process even easier. In fact, there is so much data out there, one can quickly get mired down in “analysis paralysis,” in the absence of a perspective. Your main focus, however, should not be to find the best programs, but rather to find the best programs for you. How can you do this?
Today, we are going to rank business schools across several industry categories: finance, consulting, technology, CPG, pharma, biotechnology, health care, media & entertainment, energy, and real estate.
Instead of esoteric formulas, we rely on each schools published career center data as the basis for our business school rankings.