In my opinion, there are three types of classes you should take as an MBA: required classes, classes that you’re particularly interested in, and classes that scare you. The first two are obvious but it’s the last category that I think is overlooked, and yet perhaps the most important of all.
One of the reasons that I came back to business school was to better understand the way in which financial decisions are made in organizations. I was looking forward to taking decision analytics courses, finance and accounting – not necessarily because I enjoy the subject matter, but because I recognized how important it was to my future success. The introductory Financial Management course, in particular, was eye-opening: I’d never understood that the value of money moved across time, or that the price of a share was tied to the income statement of a firm. Learning new subject matter was hard, but it was incredibly rewarding.
Because of this experience, I decided to take Financial Valuation in the second semester of the first year. I was a little bit nervous, to be honest. The idea of going beyond the required finance curriculum, and taking a class designed for students on a finance track (which I am not), felt like it could be a mistake. Luckily, I found it to be the most beneficial class of my MBA experience to date. Professor Dalida Kadyrzhanova’s class allowed me to build upon my introductory finance knowledge and stretch myself – ensuring that in sum, I will retain a great deal more about finance when I leave the program.
Ever since this experience, my policy has been to take one course each term that scares me – a course that I know will stretch me, make me work particularly hard, and for which a portion might actually go over my head. It’s served me extremely well and has ensured that I am extracting the maximum value out of my MBA. I’d certainly encourage others to do the same.