Mastering the MBA maze

INFORMED APPROACH: Aspirants should examine their goals carefully before jumping onto the MBA bandwagon. - Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

INFORMED APPROACH: Aspirants should examine their goals carefully before jumping onto the MBA bandwagon. - Photo: S. Siva Saravanan   | Photo Credit: - Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Confused by the number and variety of MBA courses on offer? Here's some guidance

To get an MBA or not? This is a question that many university graduates ask themselves as they consider their future. The MBA is an important part of professional development for many talented individuals who aspire to careers with more responsibility and new challenges.There are many new MBA options today that make choice more complicated. There are excellent MBAs offered in India as well as abroad. There are MBAs and EMBAs and they are offered part-time, full-time, online, and through 'blended learning'. There are general MBAs, MBAs with concentrations, and specialised Masters degrees in Finance, Accounting, Organisational Behaviour, Engineering and many other areas.

Where to begin

So where does an aspirant begin? It is impossible to put too much emphasis on the need for each aspirant to examine his or her goals carefully, as this determines the best way to put the pieces of this puzzle together. The difference between an MBA abroad and MBA in India is not so much an issue of quality but one of international exposure. For someone who aspires to an international career (either working abroad or working for a multinational in India), the international exposure that one gains -- from living abroad, studying with peers from all over the world, learning from professors who have been educated and worked in different countries, and from study trips and exchange options -- is invaluable.

Networking opportunity

Kamayani Jagota, Manchester Business School Class of 2006, says, "I paid to study in one country but I was exposed to 30 others for free!" Graduates emphasize th*at the network they build during an MBA abroad provides benefits throughout their career. And, of course, studying abroad typically opens up more international job opportunities.The cost of studying abroad is significant but aspirants should know that business schools offer many new scholarship and financing schemes that were not available a few years ago, making the MBA abroad possible. The MBA provides a general management education that teaches a broad range of skills necessary to assume the responsibility within an organisation for supervising and coordinating the work of others and for making strategic decisions. The traditional MBA requires one to two years of full-time, classroom-based study. EMBAs (Executive MBA) provide the same education but (typically) are delivered in segments. Karan Bhalla, a 2004 MBA graduate from Purdue University explains, "I believed that a break in my career for studies was not something that would come twice. Hence I wanted to make the most of it and dedicate two years to it. I also wanted to have the experience of an internship during my studies." And the experience has paid off! Karan's internship with a Fortune 500 company during the MBA course led to a job offer after graduation. Some distance MBA programs are offered entirely online while others may require a short period in residence while others may include regular intervals on campus. For example the online MBA offered by the Carey School at Arizona State University is offered online but requires that all students attend a five-day orientation at the beginning of the MBA. The online programs are usually directed towards older, more experienced managers who need to continue to work while earning their MBA.Business schools often offer 'concentrations' to complement the general management education that the MBA provides. If the aspirant is interested in a specific career direction (marketing, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, etc.) he or she should look for a business school that offers the option of a concentration in that area. For an individual who desires a position in senior management, a mix of electives in different areas might be a better choice.

Clarify goals

The experience of earning an MBA will have dramatic impact on a person's opportunities, knowledge, and perspective. The aspirants who benefit most are those who invest time in advance in clarifying their personal and professional goals and insuring that the opportunities offered by the MBA programme that they choose matches those objectives. LIZ REISBERG

Executive Director, The MBA Tour >

(The MBA Tour brings together universities from different parts of the world for interaction with aspirants)

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