Synergies of Being an MBA Student and a Working Professional

There are pros and cons to pursuing an MBA graduate part-time while working full-time. The major con, for many of my peers and me, is the time commitment involved. Balancing your commitments at work with the responsibilities of a student can be a real challenge. But there are synergies that come with being a student and a professional, and based on my experience, I strongly encourage MBA candidates to seek out those synergies.

Apply Classroom Concepts in the Workplace

The coursework in an MBA program is very diverse, providing ample opportunities to apply classroom concepts in the real world. If you are a newly-enrolled student fresh out of Management 101, maybe take some time to reconsider past workplace conflicts in terms of Thomas- Kilmann’s theories on conflict resolution. Are you an accommodator while your boss is a competitor? Do you have a teammate who’s an avoider? Conflicts are inevitable so you’re better off if you understand the personality dynamics at play and adapt your approach to fit the situation. Now you know how to “get things done” and it’s all thanks to your management professor!

Skills That Give You an Advantage

As an MBA student, you’ll also learn technical skills that give you a major advantage in the workplace. Do you work in a job that involves data? We all do, and companies keep figuring out new ways to collect data without always knowing how to use it. Some of my favorite classes at LMU have been “Statistics” and “Operations Analysis”, where we learned to use tools like Microsoft Excel to solve complex problems. Want to makes sense of last month’s sales data? Well, since you just learned all about descriptive statistics, why not make a simple dashboard in Excel to help visualize patterns in the data?

I’m lucky to work for a data-centric anti-piracy company, MarkMonitor, where our clients rely on us to accurately report digital piracy trends and make meaningful conclusions based on that data. On several occasions I’ve had a chance to learn a concept in the classroom and apply it the very next day at work. Believe it or not, I used to be intimidated by pivot tables in Excel. But I can thank my professors at LMU for demystifying pivot tables—which I now use every day to slice and dice data sets. It’s fair to say that I am now a pivot table pro, and it all started in the classroom at LMU.

Take Initiative

It goes without saying that the material you learn as an MBA candidate applies to the workplace—that’s the whole point, right? But it’s up to you to make the most of it. The number one attribute people expect in MBA candidates is initiative. Going back to school and sacrificing your weeknights for class and weekends for homework signal that you’re the type of person who is committed to self-improvement. So I strongly encourage you to go the distance with the tools you are given in the classroom.

  • Be creative with your knowledge.
  • Look for opportunities to apply the knowledge gained.
  • Don’t be boxed in by routine.

Find new solutions at work…it’s the MBA way!

By Danny Gelber, MBA ’16; Danny Gelber was selected as the first-ever recipient of the Rachelle Katz MBA Scholarship.