Last year, I received my Master in Business Administration degree. Unlike some professionals who earn their MBA in a full-time program, I did mine over three years, taking two classes per semester in addition to working my full-time job with Lucas Group and raising a family.
For years, I’d imagined earning an MBA or equivalent degree, knowing it would benefit my professional development and could even lead to teaching opportunities. But it wasn’t until I started progressing in my career that I was able to align my interests with the right program, setting me on a path for success.
Whether you’re considering taking a few classes or earning a new degree, these tips can help you get on that path to success and determine how to choose an MBA for you.
Find your “why”: Plenty of people will have opinions about which programs are beneficial, but only you know if something truly aligns with your long-term goals. For example, you might be a project manager at the moment, but if your passion lies elsewhere, obtaining additional PM certifications won’t be the best use of your time.For me, I’m very interested in data and analytics. It’s a big focus in my career and it’s an area where I can still learn more. I looked at the knowledge I could obtain from an MBA and considered how I’d apply it: How can data and analytics be managed? How could I gain new insights for my clients and myself? How can I structure it within the company?Understanding what an MBA could teach me—not merely thinking about it from a dollars and cents perspective—made sure I was properly driven and going down the right path.
Build a schedule: People often say there’s “no perfect time” to make a major life decision. There’s no perfect time to have a child or buy a home or, in this case, to get a master’s degree. While that’s true to some extent, certain times are better than others, and a little planning can go a long way.In my situation, my children had recently completed preschool and elementary school, so I had more flexibility in my schedule. Combining that life situation with the benefits an MBA could provide me was the catalyst for enrolling in a program.I did thorough research, talked to people, and learned about different programs. Once I made my decision, the work really began.
To stay on course, I created a schedule for myself—and then stuck to it. In fact, I even surprised myself a bit with my discipline, but it further highlights that when you’re doing something for the right reasons, your motivation is that much stronger.
From Sunday through Thursday, I focused on schoolwork from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight. The kids were in bed, so I wasn’t missing family time, and I could read materials, write papers, or do other projects. I made it my mission never to procrastinate, which helped me complete assignments well before their due date. That helped make everything a lot more manageable.
This schedule kept me on track, but it also offered a balance. I could do my work with Lucas Group during the day and spend time with family in the early evenings and the weekends. Putting all your energy into work can burn you out quickly, so it’s important to keep a few relaxing activities around, too.
The learning never stops: I believe all of us can always improve. After completing my MBA, several people asked, “what are you going to do with all this free time?”Simple: I’m learning new things, both professionally and personally. I’m getting opportunities to apply my knowledge at work, and I’m picking up new skills in my personal life.I’ve learned how to do knife throwing—an activity I never thought I’d try—and I’m also playing the guitar. Despite a few painful calluses and that tricky F chord, I’ve discovered I’m capable of learning whatever I want to apply.
Approach learning the same way, and you just may surprise yourself with all you accomplish.
Are you pursuing professional or personal development? I’d love to learn more about your goals in the comments below.