I wasn’t actually that casual about the choice to go part-time. It just seemed like clear choice when I was applying… money’s tight and there are jobs that I want now, and that I definitely want before I graduate. Also, the more I hear from full-time MBA students who are glad to be fully immersed, the more I worry that I would relish the relief from professional concerns. I’m wary of climbing an ivory tower when the goal is to understand things on the ground. Now that I’ve completed my first quarter, it still seems like I made a good call. With a job, and classmates who have current experience to share, I think that I’ll get more depth from the whole MBA student experience.
Recently, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about business trends from hanging out with working professionals (e.g.: financial services vertical integration, the role of change management, and the rise of service models). It’s good to know that at least a few of my classmates are actually working through these transitions at their companies. Surprisingly, performance review methods have been the most trend-y in terms of conversation fodder in my management class. More students seem to have strong opinions developed during recent review experiences, than opinions about any other management trend. “Wow, Rob [you say, sarcastically], that’s incredibly surprising. People feel strongly about their most recent performance review process. No kidding…”
The point is, recent experiences gave people clear opinions about the nuances of differences between specific review methods, and now students get the chance to implement coursework in their next actual review at work. Imminent implementation of expert career advice is a heck of a motivation for cracking books and listening in class.
Involvement in professional organizations is something else that I’m betting would get under-prioritized during a full-time program. I should try to stay current with product management practices, and it’s not likely that a full-time program would give me a chance to attend seminars with the Silicon Valley Product Management Association. Well, even if I had the time, I’m not sure that I could keep the motivation for involvement with extracurricular professional groups.
As it is, I’ll be in classes and focusing my attention on the most recent business practices to make it into case studies. I have a lot of faith in case studies as valuable exercises, but class exercises have artificial short-term goals. This lesson got hammered home during the enormous group exercise that closed out my first class. I’ll have to get back to that. Basically, it seems like a huge step from the academic context to personal experiences in professional situations. It may be naïve of me to think that this step can be made consciously or gracefully during my education, but I’m pretty optimistic.