Since their first proliferation in the 1980s, MBAs have become a staple of pretty much every university and business school around the world.
MBAs are among the most common postgraduate degree awards of all time. And that universities and business schools compete fiercely to attract students to their own specific MBA program. For this reason, MBAs now offer a very wide and differentiated syllabus and program and award offer.
If you are considering an MBA there are a number of factors you may want to take into consideration to make sure that the choice you make is not only absolutely right for you but also represents the best return on your investment from an employer and future career point of view.
Getting your MBA right may be the single most significant decision you make in terms of opening up a specific expert domain to you or job opportunities in those parts of the world that world that most attract you in terms of work opportunity and quality of life outside the office.
Work experience matters
You can immediately rule out any MBA program accepting undergraduate students without any post-university work experience. This is important because the whole point of an MBA is to allow you to reflect on your experience of work and to apply new thinking from applied business research and global innovation practice to enable you to think about your own power to impact the business environment in new and powerful ways.
If you are in an MBA program where some of the participants have no work experience, this will compromise the peer-to-peer learning and you will be the loser. You gain as much value from reflecting with your fellow students on what you know about different work environments as you do from engaging with the faculty.
More importantly, your future employers will use this minimum work experience entry requirement as a criterion to evaluate the value of the learning and expertise you will be bringing to them. Your future employer wants to know you are able to reflect on different work environments from a wide variety of complex points of view.
Vacation and part-time work counts
So, at a minimum chose a program that requires three years’ work experience, even if some of this work experience is gained from vacation work in different organisations throughout your undergraduate years.
There is no substitute for direct work experience. There is no substitute for a wide range of frontline work experience in different work environments. Everything counts to give you a deep, personal understanding of what it is to work directly with clients and customers and to understand the way in which an organisation organises its employees to deliver a required process, interaction or value-add client experience.
In this sense, if you review your work and study experience, nothing is wasted and everything adds up to bring you the experience required to make the most out of an MBA program.
Look for real diversity among faculty and the student body
Any worthwhile MBA aims to equip you with the ability to work with people who are very different from you. In fact, a good MBA program should enable you to work with anyone anywhere in the world. So, the quickest way for you to look for this attribute in an MBA program is to simply see where faculty and students on the program come from.
Ideally, you want to see an international faculty with a range of educational backgrounds and countries of origin.
The more widely dispersed the faculty’s origins, the more likely it is that you will find yourself in a well-rounded, internationally appropriate study and learning environment. Then, look at where students are drawn from. Ideally, you want a program where the largest nationality grouping is no more than 50% of the student body.
Ideally, this largest grouping should represent home students, rather than overseas students. This matters because you will find that home students help you get the most out of studying in your chosen country. And in a country like Scotland, you will find that the presence of Scottish students adds a layer of richness all its own on top of whatever other students are there from the rest of the UK.
In this sense, you can almost count students from England, Wales and Norther Ireland as being overseas students because their relationship to their Scottish peers will be as various and different as those from students coming to studying in Scotland from the rest of the world.
This makes Scotland a unique study location because there is nowhere else in the world likely to expose you to such a deep level cultural richness and complexity in such a small and close-kinit geography and economy.
Look for a wide range of sector-specific projects
Projects are now the capstone of any MBA program. You want to be in a program that offers you the chance to deliver a project in a sector that matters to your career future, as most employers will look to your project experience to know if they want to offer you a high-powered job or not.
And, remember, your MBA project sponsor may in fact turn out to be your most likely employer because your project work allows an organisation to get to know you and your abilities.
So, the sector strength of your MBA program really does matter to you. It can make the literal difference between finishing the program with a job offer already in hand or not.
Look for entrepreneurial ecosystems
MBA programs with good connections to entrepreneurship funding and well-organised start up ecosystems tend to enable more innovation-centred thinking. This is because entrepreneurship requires a different mindset in terms of risk awareness and risk acceptance.
So, being in an environment where you are exposed to different attitudes to risk can only help you better understand how better to navigate volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and ambivalence. In other words, how to make your way in the reality of the post-Covid global economic order. If you want to start your own organisation, then this access to an entrepreneurial ecosystem becomes the overriding deciding factor in your choice.
Again, it is interesting how Scotland has a nationally proactive and dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem into which its major business schools are closely woven. There is probably no better example of a highly diverse and successful national economy benefitting from the entrepreneurial flair and talent its education system seeds into it year on year on year.
And be aware of the local context
Finally, you will want to be aware of the culture and quality of life that your MBA program offers to you. This can range from an on-campus experience to a city-centre experience that immerses you in the reality of living in a highly vibrant urban environment.
Each university will be able to well describe the type of experience its location offers you. Reflect on what it is that you want from the program. If you are unused to living on your own in a fast-paced city context, then a city-centre experience may equip you with life skills that will help you in your future career If you are used to city living, a campus experience may give you a chance to step back and reflect more deeply on what you want from your future choices in life.
The choice is yours
Once you understand the key parameters guiding your choice, you will find that there is no right or wrong to this, just an emerging and deepening sense of what is appropriate to you. No matter where in Scotland you may look, you are likely to find an MBA program with global stature that holds all the elements that work for you.
This is part of the secret to Scotland’s amazingly powerful alumni networks the world over. The country has a gift for taking in students of every kind and giving them an MBA experience that opens them to the world and the world to them.
ScotsGrad is a pioneer in establishing the UK, especially Scotland, as a premier destination for higher education among students in India. They provide end to end advisory services including psychometric assessment, personalised interactions, university and visa application assistance, and career guidance. The personalised interactions with our members, former graduates of leading UK universities, ensure a holistic and systematic approach. They are also the only consultancy in India enabling “career success” for any student going to the UK.
To know more, get in touch with the team through any of their social media platforms:
All the Best!