Ah, the Master’s degree….
There is no shortage of speculation surrounding the worth, validity, and overall ROI of obtaining one. Aside from the prestige, people don’t talk about the most important aspect of having a Master’s degree: what is expected of you post-graduation. Some people have a knack for academia, writing, and following directions, which, makes them successful in completing their courses. Unfortunately, many overlook the maturity, personal growth, and critical thinking that should be developed concurrently alongside the mastery of the subject matter material.
I have had my MBA for over six years now. I can attest to the fact that the course materials lay a great knowledge-based foundation for core business administration and strategic management principles. Although I was a passionate student who dove into each course head first, I quickly came to realize that mastery of business administration and integrated marketing was only part of what employers deem as an asset. There are a few unspoken qualities that most industry hiring managers expect of professionals with an MBA.
If you are considering pursuing an MBA or if you have obtained one and feel like you are not working in your capacity, read these implied requirements that are just important as the degree itself. Employers hire MBAs because of their ability to:
Close Gaps With Solutions – There will be a time within your role (and you have probably experienced this already) where you will stumble upon a gap in processes, procedures, or policy. This gap usually makes your day-to-day unnecessarily more difficult with extra roadblocks to getting to the point. As an MBA, you cannot complain! When you find yourself feeling frustrated in these situations, you are expected to only open your mouth to provide insight and solutions to close the gaps. You don’t amplify problems. You present well-thought-out solutions that benefit the team and the overall business.
Shorten the Learning Curve – The MBA program teaches you about basic managerial functions, organizational behavior, and leadership – all of which are at the core of any business operation. In addition, by the time you obtain an MBA you have some skin in the game in regards to your career. You’ve participated in on-the-job-training, been exposed to different leadership styles, gained functional knowledge, honed skills, and discovered the range of your abilities. As a result, you already have a foundation by which you can continue to build upon because you aren’t starting from scratch. Employers will expect you to jump in and learn quickly. After all, “Master” is in the name of the degree, which certifies your ability for mastery of a specified function within a business setting.
Take Initiative (especially in uncertain situations) – Once you have made it through the learning curve of your position, you will be aware of the intricacies and patterns of both your role and the company. Usually, there are designated and recurrent periods of planning, reporting, promoting, etc. During times of organizational growth, change, and restructuring employees may take on new tasks as priorities shift and managers deal with new challenges. C-Suite and directors are looking for people to be proactive and own certain projects or initiatives. They expect the MBA on the team to step up first. Why? Because you have been immersed in critical thinking activities and decision-making scenarios. Your academic knowledge combined with your work experience produces analytical skills that are vital for taking on new projects – which gives your superiors confidence in your ability to take charge. The key here is for you to be confident in your own ability. Your employer has already deemed you as competent.
Manage Key Relationships – As you climb the ladder and your responsibilities increase, you will interact with key stakeholders and decision-makers that play important roles within the company. As an MBA you should understand the significance of these roles as they relate to achieving organizational goals due to the fact that you have studied the major functions of business operations. There will come a time in your career where you will be required to coordinate, partner with, and manage people with different contributions and interests in a project that you will also be a part of. Not only are you best positioned to foster open communication and interactivity amongst the different roles, but you will also be looked upon to mitigate risk and protect the company’s reputation through conflict resolution. Your knowledge gives you the capability to create effective peer-to-peer collaboration, which will ultimately establish value-based relationships between the organization and its customers.
The MBA Boosts your Functional Expertise
The MBA degree creates a great foundation for building management skills and business acumen that make you an asset to any industry and any career path. It also enhances your functional skills by adding a strategic framework to your expertise that teaches you how to best apply these skills to your current projects. As a marketer, the MBA taught me how to look at my work through the lens of CEO and entrepreneur. I have been able to look outside my silo to make strategic marketing decisions that influence the global marketplace. My degree has also equipped me to introduce new processes and influence major marketing campaigns.
All in all, If you’re wondering if you should pursue an MBA or how to make yours work for you right now, consider the above expectations and get in alignment for the sake of dominating every career move.