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Student perspectives: Is an EMBA right for me?

By Susan Petty

Sometimes, people don't see themselves as a fit for an EMBA program. They often worry that they are the wrong age or that they aren't executive material—or even, that they’re not currently executives. These fears are common, but unnecessary. Admissions committees work hard to populate EMBA programs with students who have a diverse array of experience and expertise.

"We try to craft a class that brings a wide variety of experience both from industries as well as job functions. We also look for people at different levels of expertise to provide a diverse perspective," says Susan Petty, Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives program.

Susan also likes to remind applicants that they aren't on their own when it comes to assessing their qualifications and MBA-readiness.

"We encourage prospective students to send us their resume. We love to sit down with them, either in person or over the phone, to review their CV and advise them on whether or not we think it's the right time for them to get their MBA and whether the format of the EMBA program is the right fit."

Is an EMBA right for entrepreneurs?

Manoj Thomas, an entrepreneur and student in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program, wasn't really thinking about an MBA until he heard former and current Berkeley EMBA students speak as part of an entrepreneurship panel.

"When I heard their success stories, I realized the big role the EMBA program had played in shaping the entrepreneurs in them. I also realized that formal business education and association with other entrepreneurs could take my company to the next level," says Manoj.

Manoj does wish that he had sought an MBA earlier in his career and advises others to seize the opportunities that are available to them right now.

"I was always waiting to have more spare time. My advice to those who are currently evaluating their readiness is to do your due diligence and take the plunge now. Regardless of how busy you are in life, often, the right time is now," says Manoj.

Is an EMBA right for managers?

Katherine Mlika, an EMBA student and Manager of Product and Program Management at Fitbit, originally applied to the Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program and then decided to switch to the EMBA program after having her baby earlier than expected.

"I felt like I could be a fit for either one. What came through to me when I sat in on a class and spoke to some of the folks in the current EMBA class was their level of real-world experience. I remember being impressed by the variety of experiences that people were bringing to the conversation. It was definitely something that I appreciated."

Katherine recommends that prospective applicants assess their readiness by thinking about whether or not they are really ready to contribute and learn from others.

"If applicants are willing to participate, consider other viewpoints, argue in a friendly way, and really engage with the professors and fellow students on multiple levels, then they are probably ready for an EMBA program," says Katherine.

Is an EMBA right for more deeply experienced professionals?

Kevin Blake, a student in Berkeley EMBA program and Managing Director at Berkeley Research Group, a strategic advisory and consulting firm, had 15 years of career experience and wasn't interested in any other program except the EMBA program.

"I wanted to experience learning with a diverse, but also seasoned, group of people," says Kevin. "I chose Berkeley because of the people and the culture, and I have not regretted it for a single second. It's one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life."

Kevin suggests engaging in self-reflection and considering your mindset to determine whether or not you're ready for an EMBA.

"I don't know if you can ever know if you're ready. There will always be some self-doubt before, during, and after the program. You're never going to be 100 percent sure and confident, but if you come in with the right mindset of wanting to give and wanting to experience and explore, I think that's the right mindset to have," says Kevin.

Before asking themselves, "Is an EMBA right for me," these students first asked, "Am I ready for an MBA?" Our free ebook can help you answer that question—and requesting a personal consultation can help you decide if an EMBA is the way to go.

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Posted on August 3, 2017
Themes: Applying
Susan Petty
Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.