I talk to a lot of prospective EMBA students who find me via this blog, or are friends, or friends-of-friends. Most of them are looking at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, and most of the time when we finish our conversation, they are as excited about the program as I’ve been.
I decided to write out some of my top pieces of advice since you may be reading this, but are not ready to officially commit to the process.
I didn’t always want to get an MBA. In fact, I probably rolled my eyes more than a few times when someone flaunted their MBA degree around like a banner of ultimate business knowledge and C-suite destiny. I knew I wanted to do an advanced degree, but as a journalist I hadn’t focused in on MBA until later on in my career.
So my first bit of advice is that MBAs are not just for Wall Street / Entrepreneur wannabes. All MBA programs (Executive MBA /Full-time MBA / Part-time MBA) have a diverse student population with people from all sorts of backgrounds. I would say that the cohesive thread that connects MBAs is their ambition to better themselves and make a positive impact on business and society. An accredited MBA / EMBA degree program is very hard work… you can’t just pay the tuition fees and expect to get a degree in the mail in 19 months.
Multi-Disciplinary EMBA Degree
To me, one of the biggest surprises about the Smith EMBA program was the profound lasting impact of courses that I originally thought were fairly irrelevant in my current position. I will give the example of data modeling. We make decisions every day, but I am not a data analyst by trade… or am I? Could these skills help me better plan out my marketing communications decisions? Yes, of course! And my team’s tagline for the class was: Data Modeling, We Do It In Trees… who could forget that? My favorite classes ended up being those in which I had the least amount of prior knowledge.
The EMBA program brings together so many disciplines of business and no one is going to know it all and excel in all areas, which makes it a level playing field and also helps to bond the community. Alissa is the writer. Kiati is the quant guy and Fernando is the CPA. Yes, Baltimore Study Group has its bases covered. If you aren’t a traditional business person, no need to fear, you just need to have the passion to succeed.
The Smith EMBA Community
I am in touch with dozens of my friends from high school and college via Facebook. Do I know exactly what they do for work? Sadly, no. But I could tell you what every single person from my EMBA cohort does for a living, and this is more than two years after graduation. I have all of their contact information programmed into my cell phone… and I contact them, regularly. My own personal arsenal of local executives right at my fingertips… this network is the bomb.
EMBA vs. Home vs. Work
When you are in the EMBA program you are a prisoner to your coursework and schedule. Since it is so condensed, you can’t miss a class. Aside from meeting for class every other Friday/Saturday, you will also have a lot of homework, team meetings, conference calls, and study groups. When you commit to the program, you have to be all in: you get out of the program what you put into it. Your family, friends and coworkers need to know that your EMBA degree is a top priority. The time flies by and you will be done before you know it. In a couple years, you will be like me, anxiously waiting for the next EMBA happy hour or event to meet up with the people who you consider ‘family.’ My Cohort 9 is getting together in a few weeks for a Maryland football game. Go Terps!
Let the idea of getting an EMBA degree leave your thoughts and enter reality. Just because you say it out loud, doesn’t mean you are committed to starting the program.
Read through my blog about “EMBA Experience” and contact me for more details. I’m happy to talk. firstname.lastname@example.org