The MBA Journey (Published on Republica)

A hiring manager at a fast-growing technology company is looking for a Marketing Analyst. She has received applications from two candidates who have just earned their Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees. Candidate A has done two marketing internships, has a blog and mostly earned B’s in her classes. Candidate B has taken marketing classes, taken part in college activities and mostly earned A’s in her classes. Who do you think has a better chance of getting hired based on those credentials?

If you said Candidate A then you would be correct. For the position of Marketing Analyst, the candidate with the work experience and a blog has a far better chance of getting hired than someone who only has academic qualifications. Employers value the work experiences of a candidate because the individual brings practical knowledge and skills needed for the job.

Many students finish their bachelor studies and plan to pursue their graduate studies such as MBA or MSc. This is a good career path to take for many students and young professionals looking to advance their careers. From my own MBA experience as well as having talked to other MBAs and working professionals, the three things that need to be considered before joining a MBA program are: Why are you planning to do a MBA? What will be your focus in the MBA program? And why do you need to do the MBA at that particular time? Asking yourself these three questions would help clarify your purpose and guide you in making a better decision regarding a MBA program.

I have had many conversations with students who are thinking about doing an MBA right after they finish their BBA studies. Although this approach makes sense for a few individuals, it will be significantly better for most people to first increase their work experience. Adding more work experience is especially important in Nepal because BBA graduates mostly enter the job market with less than six months of internship or work experience.

Kathmandu’s current job market is saturated with many college students with degrees in their hands. What most of these graduates do not have are the right set of skills needed for various positions, relevant work experience and the right mentorship to qualify for the many opportunities that become available.

Fast growing technology companies in Kathmandu like Fusemachines and Grepsr are hiring, but are not able to fill their vacancies quickly because the job candidates are not adequately prepared for the interviews, lack problem-solving skills or do not have the relevant skill-sets or experiences for the job. The responsibility to guide these students and graduates falls on us, the teachers, career counselors at the college, mentors and family members.

A two-year MBA program is an investment of time and money, so make sure you are really serious about it. Having done my MBA in Marketing Management from Western Illinois University and based on my teaching experiences at Apex College, I have suggestions for students and young professionals who are thinking about joining an MBA program in Nepal.

First, I highly recommend students to really do their research and understand how a MBA degree would help them in their careers. Once you really understand the reasons for choosing MBA, think about the different colleges that would offer the best program considering your specialization, budget and time. Rushing to do a MBA program without a purpose would result in a considerable loss of time and money.

Second, visit the college to get a feel of the MBA program to see if it would be a good fit for you. Do not just turn the glossy pages of the college’s viewbook to be impressed. You must talk to graduates of that MBA program to understand how the program is and what you can look forward to. If possible, requesting to sit in an MBA class can also give you a real feel for the program. This will allow you to get a sense of graduate course, get a feel of the background of the students in a MBA classroom and give you realistic expectations of the program.

The highlight in my own MBA program was the chance to work with Dr. Adee Athiyaman who has done extensive work in the field of marketing research and marketing decision making. My interest to pursue a career in the field of marketing augmented once I had a chance to work with the distinguished marketing professor.

The experience of working with Athiyaman also sharpened my research and analytical skills. I could not have asked for a better teacher and mentor at that point in my career and continue to stay in touch with him to this day. Thus, the faculty makes a considerable difference in your education and career, so it is important to find the teachers and mentors who can guide you in the MBA program and beyond.

Third, once you become part of the MBA program, take full advantage of it. The two years of the program go by fast and if you do not plan properly, you will lose out on many opportunities. An MBA program provides ample opportunities to learn, discover and challenge yourself, both inside and outside the classroom. After joining an MBA program, it is crucial to balance studies and opportunities to network outside of the classroom. If you are pursuing an MBA in a college in Kathmandu, there are numerous events taking place within the valley almost weekly.

A couple of months ago, a team from Google’s San Francisco office visited Nepal and they participated in many programs in their three-week visit. I learned about their visit through different websites and made sure to attend the events organized by the Google team. I learned more about Google products, networked and also played futsal with them. Opportunities like this do not come when you are only focused on learning in a classroom.

Although grades are important in school, I strongly recommend increasing your knowledge, skills and experiences. These three things will be more important and helpful for your long-term career. For many individuals, having a few years of work experience and saving money for the graduate program will prepare them adequately when they take on the MBA curriculum.

We live in a very fast paced, technology driven world and there is so much to learn and discover. Education is a lifelong process. An MBA degree can open more doors for you and increase your knowledge and networks. However, the right time to do an MBA will be different for each individual and it is important to know when the right time is for you and what you hope to get out of doing an MBA. You should be clear of your purpose and outcome before taking the next step in your career.

The published article can be viewed at http://myrepublica.com/opinion/story/30751/the-mba-journey.html

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