What will I get out of an MBA? 7 things you may not have thought of

By Julia Sprague

What will you get out of an MBA? Some of the benefits of top-ranked MBA programs, like those at Berkeley-Haas, are unexpected—the icing on the cake

The decision to pursue an MBA frequently starts with the sense that there must be something...more, career-wise. More challenge. More meaning. More impact.

And every year, the knowledge and skills gained in b-school lead people to find exactly these things in their careers. 

But at Berkeley-Haas, home to full-time, evening and weekend, and executive MBA programs, we believe there is even more to b-school. Here are 7 benefits you might not have expected—the icing on the cake:

1. "Me" Time

While going to b-school is hardly ever (OK, maybe never) described as "relaxing," it is clearly time that you have set aside to focus on you—and what comes next in your career. Sometimes it's not cucumber water and quiet we need, it's higher quality noise—in the form of new ideas and information. 

2. Exploration of the Path Not (Yet) Taken

B-school admissions officers expect you to have a pretty clear idea of your aims and of your strengths and weaknesses, but they also know this: You haven't learned everything there is to know about yourself. A big part of the graduate business school experience is discovering unexpected abilities and passions. 

3. I'm with the Band

In b-school, you may find yourself chatting with founders about the life of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, taking in a marketing VP's tales from the trenches, or hearing Al Gore's thoughts on the role of business leaders in our world's future. Enrolling in a top-ranked MBA program gives you access to top executives who have faced leadership challenges of all kinds and who share what they've learned along the way. 

4. On the Ground, Around the Globe

Semester break treks and built-in experiential learning opportunities bring you overseas to learn about the business climate and culture of nations from Chile to China. Sometimes part of a course and sometimes led by a classmate, these experiences are often named by students as being among their favorites.

5. Ommmmmmmm 

OK, not exactly like meditation, but b-school is a mind-opening and -altering opportunity to wrestle with substantive issues and to engage in the kind of deep thinking and thought-provoking discussion that lead to everything from a small shift in perspective to a Don Draper-style epiphany.

6. Not my Job

You say you've never helped a firm expand into an emerging market or price a new product? Through class projects and hands-on consulting opportunities, in b-school you frequently tackle real-world challenges outside your wheelhouse as a way of practicing new management and leadership skills. 

7. What Happens Outside the Classroom...

...actually comes back in. Plenty of opportunities for learning and growth happen outside of class, where you may take leadership roles in clubs, participate in case or startup competitions, lead treks, and more. You'll find these are a great way to see your learning come to life and enrich what you bring to class. 

At the end of your MBA studies you'll have a degree that opens doors, and new knowledge and skills to take you forward. But we think you'll find that not everything you get out of the experience was what you expected. Think of it as a way to have your cake (and icing) and eat it too. 

Want to know more about what an MBA program might be like? We invite you to compare our three programs.

Compare Berkeley MBA Programs

 Image courtesy of gineerobot under Creative Commons license

Topics: Evening & Weekend  |   Full-time  |   MBA for Execs
Julia Sprague
Julia is Associate Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She hopes these blog posts provide you with more personal insight into the Berkeley-Haas and Evening & Weekend Berkeley MBA program experience.