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8 Ways to Make Yourself a Better Student of Business

November 28, 2012 3:32 pm0 commentsViews: 790
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You’ve chosen to go to business school, and you’re rightfully excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Still, there are plenty of challenges on the way to launching your career. Succeeding in school doesn’t start and stop with showing up, doing the work, and making the grades. No, universities are communities, and as you become a member of your department, the choices you make can have a real impact on your career options down the road. Here are a few hints that can improve your chances for success from matriculation to graduation, and beyond.

#1 Internships

Being an intern is one of the best ways to get a feel for the career and even the workplace you have your sights set upon. Many employers choose their staff from the pool of interns that make a splash. Your internship will round out your professional experience on your résumé. You will also have the chance to meet people in your field, and get a good reference under your belt. On the other hand, a negative experience during your internship may rescue you from pursuing a career that would bring you unhappiness.

#2 Interdisciplinary Courses

Taking classes in language and cultural studies, psychology, and even environmental science will help you steer your career in a more specialized direction. Avoid the vague and generic business degree by tempering your studies with a grouping of electives that you’re passionate about. International business students with a firm grasp on language and culture will be better prepared for working with colleagues around the world. Entrepreneurs who know the psychology of human behavior will be better bosses, and may have a competitive edge.

#3 Know Your Idols

Find out who has been successful in your projected field and why. While some class time will doubtless be devoted to some key figures in business, strike out on your own. Is there a business model that you’d like to emulate? A person you admire? Read up on the career paths of these individuals and you may find yourself with a formula for similar success. If possible, try to contact former co-workers, bosses, and classmates for interviews—you might make some good connections. Even better, try and contact the businessmen and women who inspire you. Your gumption may make an impression. Just make sure you’re prepared with some questions you want to ask, though. Nobody likes wasting time.

#4 Know Who Got it Wrong

You will also do well to understand why some business professionals fail. Studying and understanding the critical missteps along the way can prevent some major heartache in your own career pursuits. It is, after all, just as important to avoid the mistakes others have made as it is to repeat the victories. In fact, you might call sidestepping errors a more reliable plan than traveling down a worn path.

#5 Learn to Network

Networking is one of the most important skills you’ll need to succeed. Start by getting to know your classmates. After all, they are your colleagues. Comparing goals and strategies might lead to mutual success. Also, take every opportunity your schedule allows to attend lectures, events, and join clubs. Talk with your instructors about your goals, and seek mentors in the upperclassmen and alumni.

#6 Mix Your Course Load

You’ll enjoy your time in school more if you work in some enjoyable electives with your required coursework. This will be a welcome break as you advance in your studies. Try to temper difficult seminar classes with something fun, whether that’s creative writing, photography, social networking, or history.

#7 Know Your Writing Process

Surely you’ve heard the rumor that business students are poor in “soft skills.” Well, no matter what the general perception may be, if you’re in business, you’re going to need to communicate. If you don’t enjoy writing, try taking a class. If that idea doesn’t appeal to you, simply study the writing process and understand your own. If you know how to approach written communication in a way that makes your ideas clear, it will only improve your spoken communication.

#8 Study the Art of Innovation

Innovation ultimately drives the success of any MBA career. Go above and beyond your regular schooling and attend a free online course offered by any one of the various MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses). One such course is ‘Developing Innovative Ideas for New Companies taught by Dr. James V. Green from Mtech. For those really ambitious, attend a #Hackathon. A Hackathon ‘is an event in which computer programmers and others in the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers, project managers and computational philologists, collaborate intensively on software projects. Even if you’re not in the Tech space, it would be worth while to network with these forward thinkers.