Monday, April 2, 2012

Helping MBAs choose their specialization (in the 2nd year) ---> Follow your passion. Or follow the money. (whatever makes you happy!)

Adpated from the link:

MBA students can be confused. Or even VERY confused, sometimes - when it comes to choosing specializations in their final year. Some of the tips below may be useful.
  1. Follow your passion
  2. Or follow the money
  3. Experiment with Internships
  4. Find a Mentor & learn from others' experiences
  5. Ask your classmates what you are good at!

University is a good place where interests are discovered, nurtured, and pursued, but if you haven’t found your passion yet or you feel passionate about many different things, here are a few ways to help you establish a more focused career direction.

Follow your passion.Whether you’re deciding on your major or have already chosen it, hopefully you’ve found a subject or particular field that you enjoy. Something that you are passionate about. Otherwise, it will be hard to wake up and go to school or to work. You also shouldn’t let your parents or peers influence this decision. Picking a major is a big deal and one that YOU will have to live with, perhaps for the rest of your life. There comes a point when you need to do what’s best for YOU and there’s no better time than 2nd year MBA to explore that independence.

Or Follow the money. I know this may seem like wrong or cruel advise, but it is not wrong to follow the money trail, buddy. Ask me, I am in my 30s and I can tell you that this is not bad advise. As they say "Money may not bring you happiness, but it will keep you comfortable in misery". Or "People who say that money can not buy happiness just don't know where to shop!" Of course, once you have paid off the student loans and have some money in your savings account, no one is stopping you from switching careers all over again, just in case you find that this money making specialzation is not for you and you want to get into something that pays less in monetary terms, but makes you happy. Now, which specializations pay well? Historically Finance specializations pay well. And so is true with Strategic Consulting. But Marketing has been know to pay well too, especially if you consider performance bonuses. There are other fields that pay well as you climb the ladder. And it is for you to do your research - salaries depend on your target industry, location, supply / demand of skilled workers, economic environment and so on.

Internships (especially true for General MBA students) There are benefits to doing a Co-Op or an internship mid-way, if you’re trying to explore different career paths. Business Schools require students to do an internship in order to fulfill a graduation requirement. Some have Co-ops too. Look at an internship as an opportunity to understand your likes and dislikes of the field you’re interning in and the job you’re doing. That way, if you’re unhappy with your internship, you’ll know not to make the same mistake again. Instead, you’ll choose an environment that works better for you the next time around.

Find a mentor (Professor, Industry expert, Guest lecturer etc) Do you have a professor you find intriguing? One that talks about a subject with such enjoyment and passion that you find yourself riveted in the material every class? This means you not only like the teacher but you probably like the subject too. Talk to this professor. Express your interest in learning more and ask if she can be your mentor. Professors are usually thrilled to help. If you don’t come across a professor you like, try asking an older friend or classmate who is more knowledgeable in the subject you’re interested in pursuing. For a home cooked meal or bottle of wine, they will be happy to provide you with a little more direction and insight. Maybe even teach you a few vital skills.

Ask your fellow MBA students what they think you’re good at. Sometimes we aren’t able see the good that other people see in us. If you need some help finding direction, ask your friends and family what they think your best skills and traits are. Perhaps your friends and classmates will let you know that you are good at Marketing or Strategy or Operations and so on. Your friends know you well - especially since you have been involved in a lot of team activities. MBA students spend hours and hours with classmates, eh?

- Gerry Som.
Blogger @


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