I recently shared my experience of completing a full time MBA. To be honest, it was quite an experience. During the same time, I switched job (to become a financial planner) just before starting my MBA program. Then, we had our second child, Amy, 3 weeks before the MBA start date. So just before starting an 18 month intensive MBA program, I switched jobs and had a baby… Not to mention that I also had to pass my final exams to get my CFP certification during an MBA session. How did I succeed in finishing my MBA, performing at work and still be able to spend time with my family? Here are my top 4 tips to pass your MBA without a burnout:
#1 Build a strong team and identify project managers
When you consider your teammates for an MBA, think about compatible personalities at first. If everybody gets along well, you will be able to face any project. I would rather have a smaller team of focused people than a gang including experts from different fields but that are not team workers. During your first meeting with your team, ask everybody what are their motivations for getting an MBA and what are their expectations from each other. Clear communication is crucial as they are the people you will see the most over the upcoming 2 years ;-).
You can also ask about the academic strengths and weaknesses of each team member. You will then be able to identify project managers for each research paper according to the strengths of your teammates. This will allow everybody to shine at one point or another.
#2 Setup your schedule and stick to it
On the personal side, you must establish upfront when you will go to your classes, read, study, get work done and be available for team meetings. These places in your schedule must be as stable as possible in order to make sure you have enough time to cover everything. It is very important to incorporate a steady study schedule so you don’t have to write until 3am during the weekend to finish your work ;-).
#3 Focus on what is important and ONLY what is important
During your MBA program, you will access a ton of information; books, articles, professor’s talks. It’s hard to differentiate between what is important or not but it is crucial as you can’t possibly assimilate all the information. A good trick I learned was to improve my speed reading and focus on the titles and sub-titles. If you can remember them, you will be able to quickly develop each concept in your homework.
#4 Forget about the school system, think practical
One thing I really liked during my MBA program is that learning everything by heart was useless. Therefore, you can differentiate people who have a great memory from people who actually understand and apply theoretical concepts. It’s easy to learn most principles by heart; it just requires a lot of time. But no matter how close you are to being able to repeat concepts word for word, if you can’t apply it in the real life, it’s worthless. So each time you learn something new, think of how you can apply it at your job. This will make your life much easier ;-).
In the end, completing the MBA program was one of the most interesting experiences I have had so far in my life. It was very demanding but I would do it again as I had a lot of fun with my teammates at the same time ;-).