Two weeks from tomorrow, I’ll be walking across the stage at graduation having completed my full-time MBA at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. It has been a very positive experience. Ultimately, what I will take away from business school is a set of sound fundamentals in general management. The process, however, was more enriching because of experiences I’d had before my MBA and the personal and professional perspective that informed my participation. I’ve certainly changed – though it’s hard to put a finger on how exactly. Instead, let me outline some of the things that I see differently as a result (in no particular order):
- I’ve become more comfortable with data. My inclination is now for lots of it – more information upon which to base decisions. Part of this is due the various statistical approaches that we learned in the core curriculum. Part of it is practical – the fact that I can now use excel to work for me with equations and optimization.
- I can read the Wall Street Journal, or listen to NPR’s Marketplace, and understand most (if not all) of what is reported. An MBA gives you enough familiarity with each discipline of business to pull out the salient points, and enough practice with case scenarios to ask the critical questions on the way to forming an opinion.
- Having learned amongst a diverse set of young professionals, I have a better grasp of what my strengths are. Some of them have been surprising – they were things that I took for granted. Some of them have been newly refined as a result of the MBA curriculum.
- I could launch a business. While it’s not necessarily the direction I’ll be going in, I have many of the tools I’d need to start my own company and manage its growth.
- I have a strong network of future business professionals going into a variety of functions across many different companies. Should I need a sounding board, have a job opportunity, or want a future partner on a business idea, I have a pool of friends to ask (and I hope, who’d ask me).
- Finally, this is just the beginning of the learning. There is no way to remember the steps to every mathematical operation, the content of each lecture, or the lessons learned from the many cases we read and discussed. I know I’ll be continuing to read industry press and business school publications for many years to come to keep pace with new developments.