Enrolling on a master of business administration (MBA) degree is a popular option for students wishing to advance their business skills and become an expert in their field. An online MBA allows you to study at your pace and gain an MBA postgraduate qualification around your existing schedule and commitments. The major benefit of an online MBA is that it will enable you to build relevant business and managerial experience and give you a competitive advantage in the job market.
Investing in an online MBA can be an effective way to boost your job outlook and achieve your career goals. That said, earning an MBA is a significant commitment, in terms of both time and money. With that in mind, you must be extremely organized, self-motivated, and prepared to work hard in order to earn the qualification. Here are nine tips to help you achieve your MBA.
1. Understand what will be involved
If you are considering enrolling on a campus-based or online MBA, then your first task should be to research different course providers and programs. As already mentioned, earning an MBA is a massive commitment and you must have a clear understanding of what will be involved. You can learn about MBA programs by visiting course providers and referring to career websites. Keep in mind that the length of time required to earn an MBA will depend on the program you choose. According to study.com, most full-time MBA courses take two years to complete, although you may have the option to enroll on an accelerated program and earn your MBA in as little as 12 months. Many working professionals choose to enroll on an online MBA and study part-time. In most cases, a part-time MBA will take a minimum of three years to complete. When considering different MBA programs, make sure that you read the course description carefully and pay close attention to assessment methods and internships offered. You must select the right MBA program to suit your lifestyle, learning preferences, and current commitments. This will help to ensure that you get the most out of your MBA experience.
2. Enroll on an online MBA program
Online MBA programs have become extremely popular, particularly for working professionals or students with commitments such as young children. The major advantage of earning an online MBA is that you will have the freedom to fit your learning around your existing schedule. This means you can choose to study in the evenings or at the weekends, for example. Another attractive benefit of enrolling on an online MBA program is that the course fees tend to be cheaper and you won’t have to pay for accommodation and commuting costs. Earning an online MBA offers many advantages, but you must remember that studying online is not easier. In truth, many students find distance learning more challenging as there is less structure and you will have complete autonomy over your learning. For that reason, students who choose to study for an online MBA must be extremely self-motivated and organized with their time. The good news is, there is a huge variety of resources offering tips on how to be a successful distance learning student. You can also speak to MBA graduates to get their advice before you start an online MBA.
3. Choose the right MBA specialization
An MBA is an internationally recognized qualification that is highly regarded by business professionals around the world. With that in mind, many colleges and course providers have developed specialist online MBA programs that focus on specific sectors of the modern business world. Picking an MBA specialization will allow you to focus on an area of interest and become an expert in your chosen field. It will also set you apart from your peers and boost your future career outlook and earning potential. You must consider the various MBA specializations carefully and choose the right option for you. Here are some of the most in-demand MBA specializations:
- General Management: this is considered to be the most popular MBA specialization. A general management MBA teaches students a wide variety of skills that can be applied to a diverse range of business environments and organizations.
- International Business: this is an excellent option if you want to work abroad or hope to be employed by a large international company with offices in different locations. You will learn business principles in an international context and will be prepared to do business all across the globe.
- Entrepreneurship: this is ideal for business graduates who aspire to start their own company. An MBA with an entrepreneurship specialization will teach you the critical skills needed to plan a start-up and pitch your idea to potential lenders and investors.
- IT Management: this is a great choice for business professionals who work within the technology sector. You will learn how to collect digital data and improve products and services based on data analysis.
4. Create the ideal study environment
As discussed, online MBA programs are growing in popularity and there are currently nearly 32,000 students studying an online MBA in the US, according to a recent article by LinkedIn. If you choose to enroll on an online MBA, then you must create an ideal study environment that will support your learning. Studying at home presents various challenges and your living space is likely to be full of potential distractions. To create a productive study space, you should start by choosing a distinct area in which to complete your learning tasks. Preferably, this should be in a separate area of your home i.e. in an office or spare bedroom. Try to avoid communal areas such as the kitchen or living room as you more are likely to be disturbed by family members or housemates. Invest in a sturdy desk, supportive chair, and all of the tools that you will need while studying for an online MBA. This may include a laptop, a computer monitor, stationary, and so on. It is also crucial that you have a high-speed and reliable internet connection. If you struggle to remain focused on your learning tasks at home, then you could look for an alternative study space such as your local library or a quiet cafe.
5. Build relevant business experience
Work experience is a must in the business world. There is high competition for the top business graduate jobs and demonstrating diverse work experience will help you stand out from your peers. For that reason, you should make it a priority to build relevant business experience. Most MBA programs require students to complete a required amount of placement hours, but you shouldn’t rely solely on this. Be proactive when it comes to your work experience and seek out internship opportunities. Make it your goal to get as much hands-on experience as possible while earning your MBA. This is especially important if you choose to study for an online MBA, as you are less likely to have internships offered as part of your syllabus. Recruiters recommend that MBA students should take full advantage of their summer vacation time to gain relevant business experience. You can find internship opportunities directly through your course provider or by searching databases online. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that “most employers start recruiting interns eight months before the start date.” You should start searching for suitable internships early in the semester and make your applications early.
6. Create a clear study schedule
Every MBA student should create a clear study schedule to guide their learning tasks and ensure that they meet coursework deadlines. If you are attending a campus-based program, then you will be provided with pre-scheduled teaching sessions. However, you will still need to manage your time outside of the classroom and determine when you will complete coursework and revise. Students who are enrolled on an online MBA will have even more responsibility when it comes to their study schedule as there will be no set classes. You can choose to study at a time and place that suits you. This freedom has some great benefits, but you risk falling behind on your learning if you fail to create a clear study schedule. Get organized before you start your online MBA and decide what time you are going to dedicate to your learning. Remember to allow yourself sufficient study breaks and downtime. Keeping on top of your assessments and following a consistent learning schedule will maximize your academic performance and help you avoid study-related stress. It is also a good idea to set yourself regular well-defined learning goals i.e. to complete a piece of coursework one week before the deadline.
7. Connect with teachers and peers
Earning an MBA qualification is challenging and you are likely to find some aspects of the course difficult. Your teachers and peers can provide valuable support if you are struggling with your MBA or learning tasks. Make sure that you reach out and connect with your peers using social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. There is also a fantastic selection of forums where you can connect with other MBA students and business professionals. Some of the most popular online MBA communities include GMAT forum, TopMBA.com, and MBA Depot. You can join these forums in order to connect with other students, ask questions relating to your MBA, and expand your professional network. Take advantage of these platforms and don’t be afraid to reach out for support and advice while earning your MBA.
8. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits
An MBA is a rigorous program that can be both physically and mentally draining. MBA students should be aware of the signs of burnout and find healthy outlets to relieve stress. Make your health and wellbeing a priority and adopt healthy lifestyle habits. This should involve eating a balanced diet that includes at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Try to avoid junk food that is high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Instead, opt for nutritious snacks like fruit slices with peanut butter, vegetable crudites with hummus, or rice cakes. These healthy snacks will give you an energy boost and keep you focused on your learning, without adding unnecessary calories to your diet. You must also stay hydrated by drinking the recommended amount of water each day. If you find this difficult, then set a recurring alert on your phone to remind you to have a drink. You can also try adding fresh fruit slices or herbs to your water to make it more appealing. This should encourage you to drink more throughout the day.
9. Try to exercise every day
Regular exercise is also fundamental to maintaining good health and wellbeing while studying for an MBA. Many students find it difficult to find the time to exercise while studying, especially when they are enrolled on a rigorous program such as an online MBA. However, you can easily incorporate some daily exercise into your routine with some simple planning and motivation. Try to do some form of exercise each day by going for a walk or doing a quick home workout. Doing just 15 minutes of exercise a day can have a huge impact on your health. Short, high-intensity workouts will burn calories and help you maintain your preferred weight. Regular physical activity can also improve your mental health by reducing stress and increasing your feel-good endorphins. There is an excellent variety of quick workouts available online, which make it easy to boost your activity levels and achieve your fitness goals.
Earning an MBA is not easy and you will be required to invest a substantial amount of time and money towards your postgraduate qualification. However, gaining an online MBA can have plenty of advantages that will benefit you in the fast-paced business world. Overall, enrolling on an online MBA can be an excellent way for aspiring business professionals to advance their skills, gain a competitive advantage, and achieve their career goals. Use the above suggestions to help you prepare for an online MBA and get the most out of your MBA qualification.