Sunday, September 9, 2012

Advancing Your Career With an MBA

English: MBA Master Business Administration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Life's not over until you're dead. Many people don't look at retirement as "giving up," but rather another chapter in their life. If you want to keep working in your "golden years," you'll have to stay competitive. You'll be up against a job force that's younger than you, but you have two strengths: your experience and the ability to get an MBA online. It's not as difficult as you might think.

Assess Your Strengths

The first step in getting your online MBA is to know your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, knowing your weaknesses is probably going to be your greatest strength. Make a set of goals for yourself and write them down. Not only does this make everything objective, but it demonstrates to admissions offices that you are organized and confident about the abilities you have.

Keep it simple. Ask yourself questions like:

"Why do I think a graduate business degree is right for me?"
"What do I have in common with business professionals?"
"What future careers fit my personal strengths and abilities?" and
"What kinds of business schools and companies seem like they would be a good fit for me?"
Most importantly, ask yourself "why now?" You should have a firm grasp on why starting a graduate program makes sense for you now, and why you're willing to go through all of the hard work necessary to get one. After you've written down the answers to these questions, let everything "stew" overnight. Revisit your answers in the morning to see if you agree with what you previously wrote.

Decide On a New Career

MBA applicants that have established firm career goals tend to do better than those who haven't. They also tend to be happier with the outcome of their education and degree. Having a career plan beforehand also makes the job of finding a school easier. Since schools don't allow you to change what you want to study mid-stream, it will also save you a lot of time and frustration (not to mention money) in the long run.

Understand Where and How You Fit

Admissions officers aren't just interested in your academic abilities. An MBA has to translate into real-world usability. You have to be able to succeed professionally. This is where you have an edge over a younger applicant. If you already have some type of business experience, use this to your advantage when applying. One of the most important things you can do when interviewing with a school is to be honest. Admissions officers can tell when an applicant is just telling them what the school wants to hear. Be frank about what you want from your degree.

Another sticking point for some applicants is being realistic. It's one thing to say you want to own a restaurant, but if you've never cooked anything resembling a good meal then it's just not practical to expect to be a successful restaurateur.

Be proactive and demonstrate what you can contribute to your future profession. A lot of folks can say what they want to get from a degree. Few understand what they have to offer the profession as a whole. This is crucial, since admissions wants to know why it should spend its resources on you if you're going to take, but not give back to your profession.

Do some research on the school you're applying to. Don't walk in blind. It's always good to be able to tell the admissions officer what you like about the campus.

Study For the GMAT Exam

The Graduate Management Admission Test GMAT is an exam you don't want to put off. Even if you are nervous about taking tests, you need to buck up and get to studying. Your GMAT score is valid for 5 years, so you have the flexibility of keeping that around for a while if you can't get into a school right away. You can always retake the GMAT too if you don't score high enough. A good prep time is about three to six months.

Choose a School

There are more than 1,900 graduate business schools with more than 4,500 programs. You'll find something. Typically, you'll have the option for traditional 2-year programs as well as accelerated 12-month programs. To apply for business schools, you'll need:

  • Undergraduate transcripts 
  • Essays 
  • Work experience 
  • GMAT scores 
  • References and a letter of recommendation 
  • Extracurricular activities 
  • Interviews 

Once you're accepted, classes are done entirely online. You typically communicate with your peers and professors via email and video or teleconferencing. Since you can often dictate your schedule with an online degree, you'll get your MBA on your terms - something on-campus graduates can't claim.

Author Bio:
Guest post contributed by Sarah Rawson. She is currently studying her MBA Finance online and writing as a freelancer. Sarah’s articles mainly appear on higher education blogs.

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