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CCG 04: How to Prepare For a MBA While Working Full Time

Listen to the Podcast

Show Topics:

  • Classy Career Girl Chat replay
  • How to prepare for an MBA while working full time
  • How to earn your manager’s confidence after a dip in performance
  • Tips for networking in a city you don’t live in
  • My thoughts on a value proposition letter

How to Prepare for an MBA Podcast Transcript

Hi, this is Anna Runyan from classycareergirl.com and today we have a special for podcast #4! Welcome to our very first Classy Career Girl chat! I am so excited to talk to you all in person and I also wanted to tell you that our Marketing assistant Lor is going to be tweeting the questions and answers for the next hour AND I am going to be available after the chat on Twitter to continue answering any of your questions so keep them coming!
So this is going to be a telecon and a Twitter chat at the same time which I am super excited about! I will answer the questions that have been submitted to me and at the end of you have any further questions, feel free to ask them.
And also feel free to interrupt me at any time if you have any questions while I am talking. The three questions I plan on covering this week are how to prepare for an MBA while working full time, how to network in a city you don’t live in, and how to earn your managers confidence after a temporary dip in performance.

Our first question is from Sabena about preparing for an MBA while working full-time.

“How do you prepare for an MBA while working full time?”
You have to decide what is a priority in your life. When I decided that getting an MBA was really important to me, I had to sacrifice some things, like my social life. I made sure I left time for my family and husband, but when you are working full-time, you have to use your nights and weekends very carefully.
When I focused and set the date on the calendar and actually purchased the test for a few months out, there was no turning back, I was going to take that test and I put everything else on the backburner besides my husband and my job. My husband couldn’t believe that I would come home from work and study for three hours, but I did. Fortunately, now there are a lot of great resources that you can use online such as beatthegmat.com, which I recommend.
I was very regimented and created a schedule and stuck to it. You really have to let those you are close to know what you are doing and how important it is for you. Because you definitely don’t want to take it and do poorly.
As far as preparing for an MBA, I would recommend devoting a month or two to study for the GMAT before you start applying to schools so that you can focus on the test and not worry about what score you need, writing essays and getting recommendations.
I took the GMAT right after college and thought I would ace it without studying. I was wrong and did very poorly on the test. After I failed, I enrolled in a GMAT course but still did not feel adequately prepared unfortunately so I ended up putting my MBA dream on hold. I thought maybe it wasn’t for me because I sucked at the GMAT. It was my only barrier and I had high dreams of going to a top business school.
But, it all worked out because I didn’t have enough experience to go right out of college, the work that I did after college and before my MBA really prepared me for the MBA and it was so much more useful to me because I had real world experience. After a few years, I buckled down and started studying every night after work. The second time I took the GMAT I was very relaxed and much more prepared. The only reason I did great the second time was because I was focused on one thing, the GMAT, and not all the other parts of the application that would come later.
Even though you are working full time, make time to visit the schools and go to information sessions and talk to some current students. Also, because you have a job you have a major advantage to get someone to write you a recommendation where you currently work.  I went part-time and worked full-time and that is definitely an option. You will have to focus and sacrifice more of your social life but for me, that was the best option because I needed to keep my income and I had a great job that I really didn’t want to leave. Besides, my employer and management were supportive and they even helped me pay for some of my school. It was so great to learn things and put them into practice the next day at work. My management definitely took notice and I even got a promotion right after I started going because they could see the difference of how much better I was doing at work.
Sabena, I hope that answered your question. If not, feel free to email me a more specific question and I would be happy to answer it!
Our next question is from Devon.
“What are some things you should do to earn your manager’s confidence after a temporary dip in performance?”
Great question. That is awesome that you realize that you have a temporary dip in performance so that is great because now you can take steps to fix it. I would first talk to you manager if you haven’t already and let them know that you are determined to do better and you would like them to at any time give you feedback to help you do better in your job.
Before you go talk to your manager I would make a list of things that you are going to try to do better and share them with you manager and he can give you feedback and tell you if these are the correct actions to take to do a better job. The one thing you don’t want is to think you are doing the right things, but your manager wants different things done.
So the first thing is to make sure that you are on the same page.  So create a personal development plan that has goals for the next year that you are going to complete and then work your butt off to accomplish those goals and amaze your management!  If they see you make goals and meeting them, that will definitely improve their impression of you!
Other things you can do is be more proactive and positive. Have a willingness to help if there is something that you see can be done or some need you can complete rather than waiting to be asked.  Also, if you can understand the thing that caused your dip in performance if you can try to educate yourself to become better. For instance, if the temporary dip in performance was because you were having some personal problems, maybe you can try to resolve those personal problems. Or if it was because you are having a hard time keeping deadlines, take a course on project management and getting things done.
Or read a book about it and do type up a paper to show your manager what you have learned and the steps you are taking in your own work to get better. If you feel uncomfortable doing this with your current boss because of the performance dip, it is totally OK to find a mentor or someone to keep you accountable in a different area of the organization, ask someone who is above you on the corporate ladder to help guide you and give you their advice. Most people would be happy to help you and most companies have mentoring programs already.
Also, you could keep track of all of your accomplishments each day and at the end of the month, send your manager an email with all of the things that you did that month. Or if you get any thank you notes from clients or other co-workers, feel free to forward them to your boss and let her or him know you are working really hard to erase the bad impression.
Just be honest and genuine and show that you are really working to overcome those bad days.  And be done with them yourself also. Don’t think of yourself as a bad worker, think of how great you are and all of the great things that you are doing. If you change your attitude, those around you will also see the transformation.
I hope this helped Devon. If not, feel free to email me!
Our next question is from Douglas:
“Any tips for networking into another city (I eventually want to move back to NYC or Boston)?”
First of all, congrats on making a goal and determining the steps needed to accomplish it.  =I have no doubt that you will find a job in NYC or Boston because you are taking the initiative to ask for advice and learn.
Because you aren’t located in the city, you will have to rely as much as you can on informational interviews over the phone. Learning and conducting informational interviews will be a great way to get your foot in the door and less nerve-wracking and time-consuming than in-person interviews.  They can be scheduled for 15-20 minutes over your lunch break or before or after you go to work.  In order to find people to interview in the city you want to work in, use the following tips:
  1. Find your dream company in the city you want to move to. Find people who work at that company on Linkedin and send them a message requesting an informational phone interview.  You may also be able to find email addresses and phone information from google as well.
  2. Don’t rule out your current network. Many companies in your current city may have job openings in the city you want to move to. Ask around and NEVER say no to meeting someone new. You never know where that future job offer may be hiding.
  3. Search Twitter, Facebook, and blogs for people with the same interests as you living where you want to live and connect with them. Most of them list their emails in their blogs and if not, just send them a message or leave them a comment to see if you can ask them a few questions over the phone
  4. Research and join a professional organization that you are interested in that also has a sister organization in the city you want to move to.  By doing this, you will open up your network and find a contact list that you can use to request phone interviews.
Before moving, plan a trip to visit. Spend a day walking or driving around and figure out which part of town you want to work and live in. While out, write down the companies that you see advertised on buildings, billboards and in stores. When you get back home, you will have a long list of companies to follow on your social media accounts and to find people to connect with online who already work there. Never forget that most people want to help so never be afraid to ask! Also, when you visit set up informational interviews in person so that you can meet someone and remember to always ask if they know of anyone else that you can contact while you are visiting or the next time you visit or you can even speak to them over the phone.
Our next question is from Lisa:
“I had a suggestion from someone to use a value proposition letter.  What are your thoughts on this?”
I think value proposition letters are a great idea. They are similar to a cover letter but it is going to set yourself apart. In the letter, you are going to identify hot button issues and how you can help. It will show that you have done your research and that you will be very valuable to that company.  A value proposition is a concise or compelling statement of what you can accomplish and not what you do.
Normally, your resume and cover letter is what you do, but a value proposition letter is what you can accomplish. I recommend targeting the industries that are likely to hire you and do your research.  You are going to mail this letter to the decision maker in that company that you want to work for. In the letter, you are going to write what you makes you special and why they should waste their time talking to you and don’t send a resume. Definitely try that Lisa, and let me know how it works!
I really hope today’s podcast gave you some great information about how to prepare for an MBA, how to get back on your manager’s good side, and how to network in a new city. Have a great week everyone!

Hi, I'm Anna!

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