13 Tips From MBA Students On How To Succeed In A Top-Tier Program

13 Tips From MBA Students On How To Succeed In A Top-Tier Program MBA students spend months if not years working to get into an MBA program. However, once they are in a program, the everyday demands take over and students have little time to think about how to get the most out of their program. To better understand how to hit the ground running and to make sure you maximize success in your MBA program, we turned to recent and current students of top-tier MBA programs for advice.

Tip #1: Focus on Career Experimentation

Alex Haddock, Darden School of Business (University of Virginia), Interned at Goldman Sachs

Alex Haddock, a rising Second Year at Darden, suggests that you go beyond the career exploration offered through recruiting. During the recruiting process, you will have access to top companies that will try to give you a sense of what it’s like to work in different fields and functions. However, business school offers many other opportunities to learn about new roles and industries – and the chance to actually use and experiment with the skills required in a variety of roles. Classes, clubs and extracurricular experiences will let you engage in real consulting, marketing and entrepreneurial engagements, just to name a few. During his first year, Alex was able to help a local company organize its accounting records, work with a public school to streamline its planning processes, and compete in a start-up pitch competition. If you take advantage of the resources at your school, you can leave after two years already having lived the roles of marketer, banker, consultant and more. Then you can make the best decision about your career path and your future.

Tip #2: Make the Most of the MBA “Card”

David Newsome, Sloan School of Management (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Interned at City of Boston New Urban Mechanics Fellow

Pursuing an MBA gives you an ability that is too often ignored – the ability to ask for something on the grounds that you “are an MBA student.” You can more easily get informational interviews, obtain data, attend conferences, and open more doors than when you are in the professional world with ulterior motives assumed based on your job title and company. Use this freedom to explore new opportunities, meet new leaders, and figure out what it really is you want to do.

Tip #3: Find an Activity that Gives you Energy and Make Time to do it Regularly

Rob Kenny, Haas School of Business (UC Berkeley), Interned at Google

Business school is a busy and stressful time. It can be especially draining during the first weeks and months as you meet new people and perhaps adjust to a new city or country. It is easy to neglect your personal wellbeing amongst the priorities competing for your time. I found it really helpful to set aside a set period each week to focus on myself. For me this meant running in the hills of Berkeley but it could be cooking or dancing or anything else that you enjoy. Finding something that allows you to refresh and reenergize yourself is important and I recommend that you find out what this is and ensure you do it regularly.

Tip #4: Benchmark Against Yourself—Not Your Peers

Charu Subramanian, Kelley School of Business (Indiana University), Interned in Marketing at Dr. Pepper / Snapple

It is critical that you benchmark your success based on where you were when you when started your program, rather than measuring yourself against your peers. The beauty of an MBA program is that it draws in the best and brightest from all walks of life and therefore it is futile to measure your growth or achievements based on someone else. Top business schools intentionally recruit students with an array of backgrounds and experiences. The learning curve and baseline are completely unique for each and every arriving student. Keeping this in mind will allow you to appreciate what you have learned, how much you have grown, and make sure you are prepared for your future career.

Tip #5: Be Yourself

Emily McGrath, Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania), Interned at Ford Motor Company

The best advice Emily received before starting business school was that the sooner you are yourself, the better your experience will be. You will be thrown into in an environment with all new people and many exciting opportunities. You may quickly find yourself doing things that don’t actually interest you or support your goals. It’s important to try some new things while in business school, but always make sure you are still being authentic to yourself...

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