This past week, young women dressed up and traveled to Bank of America’s New York headquarters to confront the corporate world. They were at the last night of the Forté Forums’ ten-city US tour: a panel discussion/networking event for young women interested in applying to business school.
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The Forté Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Austin that engages young women in MBA programs and high-level business careers, has organized the event. Last month, 45 business school deans met at the White House to develop “best practices” for making business schools more inclusive and attracting more women applicants.
The advantages of getting an MBA are many but don’t just take the White House’s word for it. Here are eight reasons why the business school could be an excellent move for you.
1. You Want to Pursue a New Career.
After getting her bachelor’s degree, Jackie Laine, 28, left her home in Toronto and moved to Los Angeles. Although the business school was on the cards for some time, she didn’t apply straight away because she was enjoying her work as a reality TV producer. A couple of years ago, I decided that it was time for a new job.“I kept reading data in the entertainment sector, and I decided that I wanted to work in it.”
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She decided to attend the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University this fall.. “Working in television has given me a great set of soft skills that I’ll be able to use for the rest of my career. The MBA will give me experience with analytics, finance, and operations that will complement my creative experience.”
2. This Is for You if You’re Stuck in Your Career and Don’t Know Where to Go Next.
“An MBA gives you exposure to all different fields of interest,” said Diana Economy, the senior associate director of admissions at Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “At the core, you won’t change. But you’ll be able to supplement that with business fundamentals and leadership opportunities that will expose you to a number of vocations and fields that you may not have known existed before.”
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3. Because You Wish to Set the Bar for Your Industry.
Laurie Stewart, director of school relations for the Forté Foundation, was in charge of organizing alumnae panel discussions at each Forté Forum event. “One recurring theme was that an MBA provides graduates with know-how and leadership skills that allow them to make a meaningful impact in a wide range of industries and job roles—which in turn leads to interesting career opportunities that they wouldn’t have had access to without an MBA,” said Stewart. Do you want to “lean in?” Apply to business school.
4. Business School Isn’t Only for “Business People,” As Some People Seem to Think.
At the University of Michigan, a quarter of first-year b-school students had liberal arts degrees as undergraduates. “Women should have confidence knowing that what we’re looking for is a diversity of thought,” said Diana Economy. “The most prevalent misconception is that business school is only for individuals who want to pursue “traditional” business careers, such as investment banking or consultancy. The MBA program provides future students with an incredibly diverse range of options to choose from after graduation. For example, some friends of mine are working as leaders in school districts while others are consultants for non-profit organizations. There are even those who have gone on to establish sustainable supply chains within emerging markets. I believe that an MBA program is the perfect place to join your passion with your profession.
5. You’re Great at Math.
Take a deep breath and tell your math phobia to get lost. “I do think that’s part of why we don’t see as many women in MBA programs,” said Joanne Legler, senior associate director of admissions at Yale University School of Management. “When women think about getting their MBA, they face another math-related obstacle and so they back out. Math doesn’t have to be what holds someone back from business school though. The math required for an MBA might sound difficult, but it’s actually at a level that most women who have been successful in college or high school have already attained.
6. You’re Seeking to Significantly Improve Your Earning Capacity.
“One additional advantage mentioned at the Forté alumnae panel discussions was not unexpected—an MBA degree’s increase in earning power and positive ROI,” Laurie Stewart remarked. According to GMAC, the “anticipated median starting salary for the class of 2014 MBA new hires was $95,000 in the United States.”
7. Because B-schools Are Increasingly Focusing on Entrepreneurship and Startup Culture.
In addition to entrepreneurship classes, many business schools have entrepreneurs-in-residence, business plan competitions, and programming about startups. The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, MIT, UC Berkeley, Babson College, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Chicago are just a few institutions that offer some of the top entrepreneurship programs. Harvard’s MBA program has produced three pairs of well-known female startup co-founders: Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp (Birchbox), Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss (Rent the Runway), and Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (Gilt Groupe).
8. You’ll Have a Better Understanding of the World, Become More Skilled, and Excel at Your Talents.
“I’m surprised at how much I’m interested in venturing outside of my comfort zone to meet different types of people and learn different types of subjects than what I’m typically used to,” said Sonie Guseh, 27, a second-year MBA candidate at Columbia Business School. “I’m learning so much about myself and the world around me through school, and that’s an incredible part of the experience.”
“For women, they come out of an MBA program with truly increased confidence and sense of self,” said Joanne Legler. Transformative is an understatement. For women, in particular, the MBA experience provides access to skills they didn’t know they had and strengthens any weaknesses. They’ll feel prepared post-MBA to take on whatever career path they choose.