I expected to learn a lot from my Master of Business Administration program at Mississippi State, and I did. However, something I didn’t see coming was how much I would develop as a professional during my time in the program. Nothing prepared me more to hold a full-time job and be a card-holding member of adulthood quite like it. Thank goodness I stayed an extra year; who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t.
You might be wondering, should I pursue a post-graduate degree if my desire is to work in the PR world? I can’t answer for your unique circumstance, but I can share what I learned during my program and why it was valuable for me.
How to conduct a job search
We spend so much time during our four years of undergraduate education trying to learn the basic skills we need to land a job after graduation, but we leave with no idea how to find one. In addition to run-of-the-mill academic studies, I learned how to best look for job openings and workplaces that would suit my interests and skills. I was given revised resumes over and over again until I my professors deemed it satisfactory for a potential employer. I was even taught how to negotiate a salary.
How to work best with others
My MBA program was team-based, meaning on day one, you’re placed with two to three other classmates you will be with for the remainder of the year. Each course had a team-based project, and one semester-long class was solely you and those teammates consulting a real-life business. Working with the same people for an extended amount of time in varying situations really gave me an accurate scenario of what it would be like to have coworkers – something that I didn’t learn by doing one group project a year during undergrad.
The importance of public speaking
Everyone will have to give a presentation at some point in their career, no matter what field you’re in. At the beginning of the program, we had a two-day long speaking competition that required us to present individually and with our team in front of 15-25 judges that consisted of real-life businesspeople. Through this competition, I learned how intimidating and important work presentations could be. It’s definitely more challenging than giving a speech on your favorite movie for your freshman year public speaking class.
I came a long way from the world of Nike shorts and T-shirts when I entered the MBA program. We were required to wear business casual to class all day and wear business professional attire whenever we gave a presentation or had a visitor. Through this process, I updated my wardrobe from “dinner with friends” to “daily commute,” and learned the nuances between what to wear to an interview vs. a networking function; phrases like “snappy casual”; and how distracting my hair can be when it isn’t pulled back! These are very important parts of the professional world that don’t usually show up in your typical undergrad course experience.
My MBA program taught me how to handle the interview process from what to wear, how to hold myself and even what type of stationery to use when I sent my follow-up thank you note. We learned how to respond to standard questions in a way that highlighted our ability and experience and how to “pitch” ourselves in 30y seconds or less.
My MBA program really did a lot to prepare me for the professional world. Sure, now that I have a real job, I still feel new and fresh. But, I’m prepared to continue learning and feel like I have strong footing to pursue my career path thanks to my postgraduate studies.