MBA Advice: What New MBA Students Should Know

A VU Online MBA student surrounded by study materials holds up a pencil and smiles.
A VU Online MBA student surrounded by study materials holds up a pencil and smiles.
MBA

Whether you want to work at a prominent company or run your own business, an MBA will help your career. However, pursuing an MBA is a big decision. With so many competing priorities, personally and professionally, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed before you even start.

The key to success is having a plan. If you’re looking for MBA advice, the following tips can help you evaluate your options as you set out on your journey to advance your business education.

MBA advice before you begin your studies

We've broken down the most important things to remember at the start of your MBA experience.

1. Get to know the tools and resources

When you pursue an MBA online, you can study when it suits you, even if you have a full-time job. But before you leap into virtual student life, remember to do your research.

Find out how to access your online learning programs, materials and any other tools that help you connect with your peers and academics. Also, don’t forget to explore the online library and additional resources such as virtual workshops and forums. Gaining this information early will help remove the guesswork from online study and save you valuable time.

Online learning is different to what is delivered in a traditional in-person classroom. Any research and preparation you do beforehand about virtual classrooms will also help you adjust your mindset and expectations. Before you plunge into your online MBA program, it’s important to be technologically proficient. If you’re not confident with technology, make sure you invest time to become tech-savvy and learn how to navigate your course’s units and resources.

Once you are off and running, know who to contact for technical support if you encounter an issue. Knowing where to get assistance, both academic and technical, before Week 1 can take the stress out of facing any unforeseen setbacks.

2. Program your time effectively

Time management is crucial for all MBA students and even MBA applicants; being aware of deadlines is a must. By scheduling your work-life commitments, organising structured study time and being deadline-driven, you’ll manage to keep on track with all your weekly study requirements and assignments. Prioritising time management and establishing a routine will also allow you to feel confident when collaborating with others and contributing to online forums.

Use all the resources you can to help you plan. There are now countless technological tools that can help you use your time wisely. These will help you keep on top of all your tasks, assist with organising your study and enable you to stay motivated.

It’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve in any period. So, start with setting goals and reminders. However, ensure that your schedule is feasible; this will avoid disappointment and burnout.

3. Balance your work-life

Many students who are seeking MBA advice are concerned about managing both their studies and their personal lives. Starting postgraduate study with an MBA without neglecting other aspects of your life is a balancing act, but you can do it.

While there will undoubtedly be early morning starts and late-night finishes in your day, it’s important to unwind and spend time on extracurricular activities that recharge you. Just like timetabling your study, you need to schedule appointments for self-care. This could be a simple walk, taking a nap, making time to catch up with a friend or cooking up a healthy batch of food that will get you through the week.

Studies show that regular breaks are crucial to successful study. This format serves to alleviate stress levels and boost productivity. Exercise and meditation are two of the best ways to lower anxiety and improve personal health. So remember — to increase your efficiency, restore your attention and enhance your creativity, your brain needs downtime.

4. Build relationships

The business world demands that we work with people to be successful — an MBA is no different. You need to get comfortable with networking and collaboration, so use all the resources at your fingertips to make connections: email, messaging systems, virtual study groups, shared documents and more.

By building a support network of peers, you’ll feel less isolated during challenging periods, and you’ll have trusted sounding boards you can rely on. Similarly, get to know your lecturers and academics. They can be another key support, and help you manage your workload and complex subjects.

Networking is a key component of the MBA program experience. The relationships you build as a student can last throughout your career. As you seek new career opportunities, your peers may become your future colleagues, and your lecturers could become your next references. So, take the time to get to know the people who share your similar path.

As you grow your network, also listen to diverse voices and expand your understanding of certain topics and issues. This will build your international awareness. Questioning and challenging the status quo will sharpen your skills in problem solving, negotiation and analytical thinking. This mindset will help prepare you for your MBA career in a diverse workforce and workforce diversity holds the key to improved productivity.

Arrange to meet with MBA alumni who can offer advice on where to work, which companies are hiring and more. Networking among MBA alumni is useful, since it provides a ready-made network you can access for help and support.

5. Ask for help

You might feel you’ve hit a brick wall, or that the process of studying for your MBA has become time-consuming and unmanageable. When you experience this, it’s easy to doubt yourself and your ability to complete your MBA program. However, here’s some key MBA advice: It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and that your peers are probably having the same uncertainties.

Break out of your isolation and be confident about asking for help. Contact key people from the network you have been growing to troubleshoot any issues you may experience.

Remember that by asking questions, you can naturally improve in your studies. Asking questions spurs learning, promotes an exchange of ideas, enhances critical thinking and fuels innovative reasoning. To get better at asking for help, first help others, then help yourself; this will foster reciprocity. Create a culture where it becomes normal to give and ask for assistance. You can even formalise the process by starting an online study group to discuss concepts and ideas, which helps you stay on track academically.

On the whole, your MBA experience will be relatively predictable. You can expect a lot of work and some stress. The key is to manage these things by setting clear, achievable goals for yourself. Before you determine the level of workload you can handle, you must know when to say "no." Figure out your study style, too. Maybe you prefer to work quickly throughout the day, or maybe you like to take it slower with fewer deadlines. Whatever your schedule, feel free to always ask for help when you need it.

6. Find a mentor

The role of a mentor is to provide you with ongoing advice, tips and feedback as you progress through your studies. This helps with motivation and support throughout your coursework. A good mentor will give you direction on your career path, and encourage you to explore different avenues in your field of interest.

It’s also important to remember that you can be a mentor, too. Attend networking events and take the time to get to know your peers—you may learn a lot from each other.

7. Keep an open mind and take some chances

Sometimes, you will have to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. When you are seeking MBA advice about what to expect, it’s important to remember that MBA programs can often be difficult, so keep an open mind.

MBA degrees train you for the uncertainty of the real world, so it's okay if you don't know everything or want to take risks — as long as you can learn and grow from the experience, and choose the path that makes sense for you.

MBA advice helps new students choose a path to success

With VU Online, MBA students study a rich and relevant curriculum delivered by highly qualified academics and facilitators. Delivered by the internationally respected Victoria University Business School, students benefit from an MBA program at one of the leading MBA business schools in Australia. If you are motivated to become a future leader, to qualify for post-MBA jobs and make a positive impact on the world around you, learn more about VU Online’s Master of Business Administration.