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留学参考:Going Beyond Grades In Business School  

2016-12-21 04:06:40|  分类: DIY留学综合信息 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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留学参考:Going Beyond Grades In Business School

 


 BY: BRIAN PRECIOUS ON JUNE 28, 2016

 

 

No one was super-excited about the assignment. It was the end of MBA orientation, and everyone was looking forward to a relaxing weekend before classes started. And yet, at about 4 p.m. on Friday, we were placed into our project teams and given our first task. Little did I know this project would set the tone for my entire MBA-student experience.

The rules were simple enough. We were to take a popular song and change the words to reflect our thoughts on what being an MBA student would be like. We had until Monday morning to write the lyrics and prepare to sing our masterpiece to faculty and fellow students. The winning team, as determined by popular vote, would receive tickets to any show at the school’s performing arts center.

I didn’t think we would win. There were certainly more clever entries, and many teams had considerably more musical talent. One group changed “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys to “I Want My MBA.” Another team transformed Will Smith’s “Welcome to Miami” into “Welcome to Urbana” (“ …party in the cornfields to the break of dawn!”). My team, by contrast, went with a classic—morphing John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s “Let It Be” into “Get a B.” Our message was this: Do more than just study. Much to my surprise, we were a hit and won handily! During our live performance, most of our classmates (and even some faculty) joined in for the last chorus, which went something like “Get a B. Get a B, not a C, Get a B…”

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING

As it turned out, our lyrics were more prophetic than I knew at the time. I quickly learned that some of the most valuable and enduring learning experiences would happen outside the classroom. They would happen in China while I toured the Great Wall with my classmates. They would happen at case competitions when our team went up against students from other top schools and came out victorious. They would happen when some classmates and I decided to start a company. They would happen as I barely escaped death on a whitewater rafting trip in New Zealand. They would also happen informally over a meal or at “Mugclub”—our Thursday evening social.

Ultimately, the experiences I had during my MBA not only led to an exciting job in a new field, but also transformed me into a better professional with a wider global outlook. And so, while I appreciate the academic rigor of my education, I’m equally thankful for the opportunities I was given beyond the confines of the classroom.

Now, as an MBA program director, I work with students all the time who underestimate the value of experiential learning. One memorable example was a student named “Tom” who dropped by my office about two months before graduation. Tom had earned all As in his classes but was struggling to connect with potential employers on job interviews. “I’ve had eight interviews in the last two weeks, but none choose to bring me on-site for a second-round interview,” he lamented. I asked how he thought he was differentiating himself from others applying for the same job. Without hesitation, he said, “I have a 4.0 GPA. That should be enough.”

‘I WON’T HIRE ANYONE WHO HASN’T HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THOSE AROUND THEM’

Instead of arguing, I suggested he contact the people who interviewed him to ask for candid feedback. By the next week, he had gotten in touch with two of his interviewers. “One told me he really liked me, but the other candidates had better answers to her situational interview questions. The other said he won’t hire anyone that can’t demonstrate that they’ve had a positive impact on those around them.” With that feedback in hand, Tom decided to make some changes to his job-search strategy.

His efforts paid off a few weeks later at an alumni reception in Chicago. He connected with an alumnus at one of the companies that had rejected him earlier. He followed up and asked if he could shadow this person to learn more about the company and the industry. Two interesting things happened that day. First, he was introduced to a hiring manager in a different division who agreed to interview him on the basis of the alumnus’s recommendation. Second, by missing class to attend the job shadow, he missed a quiz, resulting in the first B of his MBA career. Tom didn’t graduate with a 4.0, but he left with a job offer from a Fortune 100 company. Had he continued to put academics ahead of everything else, the reverse probably would have occurred.

It’s not that grades aren’t important. In fact, top firms in investment banking and management consulting typically require nearly perfect grades from candidates they’re even remotely considering hiring. Employers in many other industries, however, are most interested in hiring well-rounded individuals with demonstrated leadership, managerial, and interpersonal skills.

 

Below are some especially accessible ways to gain skills and experiences demanded by employers as an MBA student:

CASE COMPETITIONS

In a case competition, teams of MBA students compete to develop the best solution to a business problem—usually under intense time pressure. Teams are typically given about twenty-four hours to read and analyze a business case, conduct research utilizing all publicly available information, and develop findings and recommendations that they present to a panel of judges. The case usually focuses on a company about to make a critical decision, like entry into a new market, creation of a new product, or implementation of a new human resources policy. Participants need to identify the key issue of the case and analyze the variables from multiple perspectives. Prizes are often awarded to both the winning team and standout contributors from other teams.

I like case competitions for many reasons. They offer a great opportunity for students to practice all of the skills that make an effective business leader—teamwork, strategic analysis, research, presentation, and time management—in an intense but educationally oriented setting. Case competitions are also amazing networking opportunities. In fact, the judges and sponsoring organizations often use the opportunity to scout for top MBA talent. Several students I’ve worked with were offered interviews, internships, and even full-time jobs as a result of their participation in a case competition.

Case competitions also provide participants with vivid examples to use in their answers to situational questions asked during job interviews. If you are interviewing for a manager position, chances are you will hear a prompt along the lines of this one: “Tell me about a time when you worked with a team to deliver high-quality results under time pressure.” Participation in case competitions makes these types of questions a breeze to answer.

STUDY ABROAD

Before starting my MBA program, I had traveled to Canada and Mexico but hadn’t strayed beyond North America. That changed during the first year of my MBA program when I had the opportunity to study entrepreneurship in China over winter break. For three weeks, we visited startups, well-established companies, universities, historic sites, and alumni in six different cities. Along the way, I learned about the history and culture of the Chinese people, talked about the paradox of an entrepreneurship culture existing in a traditionally government-controlled economy, sampled some amazing food, and met several extremely successful professionals. During my second year, our global-marketing professor took us on a fourteen-day adventure to his native New Zealand. We studied the wool industry, and used our findings to develop a U.S. market–entry strategy, which we later presented to a local clothing manufacturer. Between tours of wool factories and meetings with high-level executives, we went skydiving, swam with the dolphins, stayed at a sheep farm, and narrowly defied death on a whitewater rafting trip.

While extremely enjoyable, these trips were so much more than vacations. They were learning opportunities—chances to explore how a country’s history and business culture intersect, and to see the emergence of the innovation economy in one of the world’s largest nations, and to witness firsthand the differences in communication and negotiation styles found in different markets. These experiences have undoubtedly made me a better professional. I can now better relate to prospective and current students from China. I’ve tailored my oral and written communications as a result of what I learned in that country. And, these small changes haven’t gone unnoticed; just last year, a student from China told me she chose our school because I made her feel welcome during the interview process.

STUDENT CLUBS & ORGANIZATIONS

Most programs have a wide variety of student clubs and organizations run by MBA students. Some clubs are industry specific (e.g., finance clubs, marketing clubs, consulting clubs), some are social or recreational (one of the schools I worked for had a wine club), and others focus on the needs of specific populations of business students (e.g., clubs for women in business).

Each club typically has a leadership team responsible for fundraising, hosting events, organizing professional development opportunities for members, and marketing their organization to fellow students, faculty, and alumni. Students are usually elected to leadership positions by their classmates. Many programs encourage students to create new organizations if there is demand from the student body.

Serving in an elected leadership role is a great learning opportunity. Successfully leading an organization requires the same skills—ability to inspire others, communication, fundraising, strategic planning, budgeting, and customer service—required to lead in the business world. Like studying abroad or participating in a case competition, the experience of leading a student organization not only enhances your skills but also provides anecdotes and experiences you can reference in job interviews to answer questions about leadership, teamwork, ability to drive results, and time management.

 

EXPERIENTIAL PROJECTS & EXPERIENCES

As an MBA student, I had the opportunity to participate in Illinois Business Consulting[1] (IBC), a for-profit management-consulting firm run by business students at the University of Illinois. Those with previous consulting experience served as the leadership team, which interfaced with clients and trained less experienced students. Projects ranged from helping a Fortune 100 company create a new product-development strategy in China to working with a local car wash looking for ways to attract new customers. Many of our clients were alumni with hiring authority in their respective organizations.

Because IBC is a mostly volunteer entity, the hours were long and the pay was (very) low, but the experiences I gained as a result of participating in IBC have helped me to this day. I learned how to develop, motivate, and train others; manage projects; and track expenditures to budgets. Most important, I learned the value of providing excellent customer service. Interestingly enough, the job-placement rate for students in my graduating class who chose to participate in IBC was one hundred percent. Almost all of us had multiple offers.

I recommend taking advantage of any coursework or IBC-like experiences that allow you to work on real projects sponsored by real potential employers. Whether it’s developing a financial model for a huge corporation, helping the local bakery streamline its operations, or working with a regional nonprofit to more thoroughly engage its donor base, something powerful happens when MBA coursework is applied in a real-world context. Such projects reinforce concepts learned in the classroom, but more important, they provide students—particularly those with limited work experience—the ability to showcase their problem-solving, managerial, leadership, and interpersonal skills to future employers.

WORKING WITH START-UPS

Many universities, particularly large research-oriented universities, actively commercialize the technologies created in labs on campus. There are many reasons to do this, including enhancing the university’s reputation, financial incentives, and the intrinsic value of bringing to the marketplace products that improve human quality of life. For example, the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine, light-emitting diode (LED), and web browser (Mosaic) were all developed at the University of Illinois.[2]

Why is this relevant to you? Because start-up companies, particularly those focused on commercializing new technologies, need business expertise to improve their likelihood of success. They need professionals who can help them identify the best markets for their new products, analyze competitors, develop a marketing plan, interface with customers and partners, manage cash flow (in start-ups, cash is very limited, so this skill is especially beneficial), and facilitate the day-to-day operations of the new enterprise. Volunteering your time with a start-up company that interests you can be a win-win situation. The skills you are learning in class and through extracurricular activities will help the company prosper while the experiences you gain in the process will propel your career forward. In my experience, however, relationships between the companies in a university incubator or research park and the MBA program are not always formalized. Early stage start-ups are sometimes so focused on the technology that their leaders don’t even think about the business they are trying to create. Often, MBA students have to take the initiative to connect with entrepreneurs and incubator staff. Students willing to take this extra step are often rewarded with some very interesting opportunities.

My first post-MBA job was with a start-up founded by electrical-engineering professors at the University of Illinois. It was one of the most challenging and exciting jobs I’ve ever had. The opportunity came about as a result of my summer internship at the university research park. I met the CEO of my eventual employer at a networking event at the university’s incubator for tech start-ups. We hit it off, and I wound up doing some consulting work for him during my second year in the MBA program. Upon graduation, he offered me my dream job as the director of marketing. Over the next few years, we worked together to transform a three-employee company with limited funding into a venture capital–funded entity with more than fifty employees, several product lines, and a viable customer base. This transformational and mutually beneficial experience solidified my belief in the importance of seeking out extracurricular learning opportunities in your areas of interest.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Although grades are important, employers of MBA students typically look for well-rounded individuals with demonstrated managerial, leadership, and interpersonal skills. Throughout this lesson, we discussed opportunities to enhance your abilities in these areas through experiential learning, or learning by doing.

ACTIVITY

Talk with at least ten MBA students who are in their second year or are recent graduates of your program. Ask them about their most significant moments in the program. Which activities were most beneficial to them? What do they wish they spent more time doing? What do they wish they spent less time doing? What advice do they have for a student just starting the MBA experience?

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

1.     As an MBA student, how important are each of the following to me? When time conflicts occur, which should be higher priorities?

·      academics

·      personal development

·      career search

2.     What experiences as an MBA student will better prepare me for my chosen career?

3.     Where can I gain these experiences while in business school?

4.     Am I planning to study abroad? If so, have I factored the cost of a study abroad trip into my overall budget?

5.     How important are grades in securing a job in my chosen industry? If I don’t already know, how can I find out?

6.     What unique, non-curricular opportunities exist at the program(s) I am considering?

7.     What will my legacy as an MBA student be? Ten years from now, how will my classmates and faculty remember me?

 

Brian Precious has managed the admissions, recruiting, and marketing teams at three major MBA programs — Oregon State University, Purdue University, and, his alma mater, the University of Illinois. Brian’s passion for business school education stems from his own experiences as a student in the Illinois MBA program from 2004-2006. During that time, he gained the skills required to change careers, had the opportunity to start a company, travel the world, and make some of the most enduring friendships of his life. Get In, Get Connected, Get Hired is his first book. 

 

 

以上内容摘自:

http://poetsandquants.com/2016/06/28/going-beyond-grades-business-school/ 

 

 

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