How An MBA Is Just The Beginning (Of An Adventure!)
For some, an MBA is simply a fountain of theoretical knowledge, coupled with the chance to land their “dream” job, and remain married to one single career until retirement. To them, an MBA offers confidence and security.
But approaching the MBA process through this very narrow prism can sometimes mean that you are not getting the most out of it.
An MBA is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that shouldn’t be seen as simply the means to one end. It shouldn’t be looked at as your last and only chance to get the dream job you’ve always thought you wanted. Instead, it should be seen as the beginning of an adventure, and a chance for you to expand your horizons, leave your comfort zone, and question everything you thought you knew about what a professional life should be.
What You’re Good At Is Not Always What You Should Do
Before starting an MBA, students will of course have a potential career in mind. They’ll enter the program armed with a few random skills that need polishing, and they’ll pick a program they feel will give them the best chance of refining these skills – and landing a job they are confident they can do.
When studying for an MBA, you learn skills that will make you better at the job you want (or which you currently do). But an MBA can also open your eyes to the fact that there are aspects of this job that you dislike.
What you’re good at right now, and what you know you can do, may not necessarily be what you want to do for the rest of your life, and an MBA can help you realize this. The program helps you to see where you can add value to something and actually enjoy doing it at the same time.
A lot of people go into (and come out of) an MBA program believing that, since they’ve already made their mind up about their career, it would be madness to suddenly change their minds and head in a new direction, but this is all part of the adventure.
“We define ourselves by reinvention.”
– Henry Rollins
Leaving The Comfort Zone
An MBA program could offer you the chance to tighten your comfort zone even further if you let it. After all, it can give you the necessary tools to finally land your “dream” job. With even more skills, you’ve got a chance of not only landing a job, but actually excelling at it.
Although an MBA program certainly teaches students new skills and tools, it can also change your attitude on what your professional life should be like.
A lot of students enter an MBA with the idea that there is only one way to measure progress, and that’s by looking at how far up the corporate ladder you are. This is simply not true, and the MBA can make you realize this.
An MBA Can Lead You in Many Exciting Directions
As Stephane Egret learned while pursuing his MBA at Stockholm School of Economics, “life begins where your comfort zone ends”. The whole experience taught him to actually enjoy stepping outside his comfort zone…and has led to an exciting new career and personal goals. Stephane is even considering taking his education further and pursuing a PhD in innovation.
As a result of pursuing an MBA, you might be more encouraged to abandon the preconceived ideas you have of what life after an MBA is supposed to be like, and instead you may be willing to step out of your comfort zone and maneuver a complete shift in dynamics.
How Two MBA Graduates Changed The Game
IMD MBA alumni Helmut Schoen and Stephen Wise graduated from IMD in the mid-eighties with a whimsical sense of adventure. In autumn 1985, they gathered with a clutch of fellow students on campus, using a well-earned break as an opportunity to wax lyrical about the future.
“So, what if we put x-dollars in a pot, so to speak,” one of them posited enthusiastically. “We’ll have enough to invest in a nice vacation villa that we can share. Together, we could manage a villa per year.”
The discussion was not for realists who were hoping to bag a well-paying job after graduation before settling down with a partner. The discussion was for the dreamers, for whom the MBA was having a life-changing, perspective-altering effect.
“But wait, what if I can’t pay one year?” chimed in one of the realists, who hinted at the flaws in the design.
For many MBA students, this type of dream quickly fades once they leave campus. For others, like Helmut Shoen and Stephen Wise, the dream is opportunity that lingers in the back of their minds.
After graduation, Helmut forged a successful career in banking, but soon realized that – although the money was good – it just wasn’t for him. Those wistful days romancing about future breaks played on his mind, and he began to realize that the MBA was just the start – not the end.
“I’m actually more suited to entrepreneurial environments,” admitted Helmut. “But it took me quite a while to realize this and be ready for the necessary risks. Frankly, I wish I’d understood it sooner.”
Helmut Shoen and Stephen Wise eventually looked back on the idea they had strummed out dolefully on the IMD campus in the mid-eighties, and in 2005 decided it was time to make their idea a reality. Confirming that it was innovative, they created The Hideaways Club.
“Hideaways is an alternative to buying or renting vacation homes or staying at luxury hotels.”
Shoen and Wise’s career change is testament to the fact that nobody needs to feel as though their choices are restricted once they’ve started an MBA program. It isn’t a means to one end; it’s a means to many pathways. There is no end.
This post is written by Gretchen Shaw. Gretchen is an author, blogger and entrepreneur with a penchant for baking. She is passionate about communication, continued learning and connecting people. You can follow her on Twitter: @shawgret