Maximize the impact of earning an MBA degree

  • March 6, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 4 minute read

Embarking on the journey to earn a Master of Business Administration is a significant step toward personal and professional growth.

It’s a decision that can open doors to countless opportunities and shape one’s career trajectory. 

The true benefits of an MBA degree extend beyond the classroom, continuing to influence a student’s path long after graduation. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. In this blog post, graduates will learn how to maximize the impact of earning an MBA degree, gaining strategies for lifelong success both during and after an MBA experience.

How do successful students get the most from their MBAs?

The first action successful students take is to maximize their experience while they’re still in the program. MBA students identify which projects and lessons light their fire by exploring many distinct roles and industries during their time in the program. They can then take this self-knowledge into their next roles as recent MBA graduates.

Next, students archive their experiences by creating a list of favorite projects or a diary of interesting learning opportunities or successful results. This step helps with getting a job after an MBA because they can translate that information into a resume and interview stories expressing their best, most exciting conversation starters.

Thirdly, successful students remember to use the resources their MBAs provide after graduation. They leverage entrepreneurial fellowships and grants, use the alumni network to find mentors and collaborators and tap into the career ecosystem to seek continuing advice as their career develops.

How can recent MBA graduates showcase their skills in an interview?

When applying for a new position or going through an interview process, graduates often find it difficult to express their MBA experiences and the skills they gathered. How can recent MBA graduates best show potential employers the breadth and depth of their knowledge?

When considering interview tips for recent graduates, focus on the positive. Students may be asked about their weaknesses or probed on qualifications they don’t have, but there’s no need to focus on flaws. Instead, students should mention transferable skills or experiences and talk about an experience where they could learn a skill quickly. “Although I don’t have ‘X’ experience, I do have ‘Y.’”

This instantly shifts the tone of the discussion. It’s also crucial to talk about results. Bragging about skills and accomplishments is perfectly acceptable during an interview. Results tell stories, and they don’t have to be quantitative.

A student who says they decreased downtime by 25% sounds great, but so does “I was proud of my communication during this difficult project.”

Lastly, students should remember to use the skills they’ve learned. The MBA program teaches students how to structure information so others can understand their approach. Use this skill during interview prep and structure answers. If an interviewer asks an interviewee to solve a business problem, they should break it down instead of improvising a solution: They can say, “Wow. Great question. So, when considering this problem, I think about internal and external factors. Internal factors would be things like …” The interviewer will begin to see how the interviewee structures problems and identifies potential solutions. 

What strategies can graduates employ to sustain their MBA impact?

The MBA experience is more than just a one-and-done phenomenon. It keeps working for graduates as they evolve and progress through their MBA career paths. A skill acquired in a group project may be helpful when meeting a similar challenge during a business situation. Graduates must keep other lessons in their back pocket to deploy when needed.

The primary advice all graduates should keep at the top of their minds is to get involved. Get involved before graduation, as a recent MBA graduate and as a seasoned business leader and alumni. Continuing to apply oneself in the MBA community means that a graduate will carry on identifying spheres of influence within the MBA program and opportunities to engage in the community.

The importance of community engagement to students cannot be overstated. Community engagement tells a story about a student’s skills and ideas when working with recruiters. While prospective employers may not be able to peer into their MBA experiences, they will see their engagement with the community.

One of the key ways to keep engaging with the MBA community is through career center coaches. Simplify getting a job after an MBA with their aid. Check in with career center coaches before and after graduation, involve them in decisions, seek their advice about interview tips for recent graduates and look for opportunities to give back. Alumni are the best sources of career support as they have been there before. By working with coaches and connecting with alumni willing to advocate, students can create positive outcomes in their MBA career paths.

The benefits of an MBA degree are both immediate and far-ranging, quantifiable and abstract. MBA graduates can keep using the resources and lessons gained within the program. They will be able to call back to them when they need advice, make new connections from their alumni networks and present themselves with confidence and integrity in the face of new opportunities.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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