How To Make The Most Out Of A One-Year MBA
Though the best US schools stick to the two-year format, one-year programs are becoming increasingly competitive
By Chioma Isiadinso
While they have yet to become run-of-the-mill in the United States, one-year MBA programs are commonplace around the rest of the world.
INSEAD recently became the first one-year program to reach the top of the Financial Times MBA Rankings and even though theirs is a singular achievement, one-year programs have consistently ranked in the Financial Times top twenty for years.
With a shorter time spent out of the workforce, lower tuition cost, and post-graduation salaries that equal and even exceed those of two-year programs, it's no wonder that many students gravitate toward the one-year format.
For those who have already decided to cut their risk and pursue a one-year program, this is what you need to know to make the most of it:
Before The MBA
Success in the one-year program is predicated on preparation and clarity of vision. In short, you need to know what you want to do, and how you're going to go about doing it, even before you start.
The way you spend your time in the months leading up to enrollment can be just as important as the way you spend your time during the MBA. These following steps will help you plan for your success:
Request informational interviews with senior members in your organization, or in the industry or career field you plan to pursue. These conversations help you decide which path is best for you. Informational interviews can also be a great way to find out what kinds of classes and experiences you should seek out during your MBA program.
Seriously consider an unpaid internship before you begin classes. While this may not be feasible for everyone in terms of finances or free time, it can be a great way to gain valuable working experience, develop personally, and strengthen your resume.
Because of time constraints, one-year MBA students need to be ready to hit the ground running from day one. To prepare yourself fully, consider taking a short course before your MBA. Online options like MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) can help you brush up on your quantitative skills and get a head start on your business foundations. Other options run the gamut, from Saylor Academy’s free Managerial Accounting course to Wharton's five-part Business Foundations specialization.
During The MBA
Established one-year MBA programs, particularly those at top business schools, are well-oiled machines designed to point their students in the direction of success.
Your chosen school will doubtless have a wealth of resources to help you acquire knowledge and experience, so it is solely up to you to be proactive in using them to your advantage.
Utilize your school’s career services department. The best schools want to have reason to promote their post-graduate employment rate, and thus employ teams of dedicated professionals working toward that goal. These people are here with the express purpose of helping you find work, but you'll need to be enthusiastic in seeking out their support.
Identify shorter-stint internships that can be completed during small holidays or breaks from school. Various one-year programs integrate this into their schedule. For example, Oxford's Saïd Business School allows students to choose from either a six-week internship, a four to six-week strategic consulting project, or two additional elective courses during the summer term. Make the most of opportunities like these.
Scour for opportunities to take part in labs, practicums, and consulting projects. Many of these are integrated into the standard curriculum, such as IE Business School's five-week Lab Period or Cambridge Judge's Global Consulting Project. One-year MBA programs are generally designed to give students plenty of opportunities for practical, experiential learning, but seeking out additional hands-on projects is a great way to get the most out of your time at school.
Know your goals going in
Ultimately, what will serve you best during a one-year MBA is an all-encompassing sense of maturity and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.
Shorter MBA programs may offer less time in which to experiment and figure out your goals, but if you start with well-defined objectives in mind, the opportunities to succeed will be equal.
She's also a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the author of the Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets.
Chioma publishes on the topics of personal branding, leadership development and business school admissions for college students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and executives.