Engineers are by definition problem solvers. They’re used to tracking down root causes and coming up with effective solutions. Engineers could bring that mindset and their experience to the business world at large. However, this requires a better understanding of business, people and processes. An MBA allows you to do that, even as it prepares you to move into technical management or general management. Let’s learn how to make the transition from engineering to MBA.
Develop a Post-MBA Plan
A post-MBA plan is the vision you have for what you want to do after you complete your degree. You want to have this post-MBA plan before you apply for an MBA school. Why? First, it allows you to determine what MBA concentration or program is right for you based on your intended career path. Second, MBA admissions committees prefer candidates who have such a plan. Third, it makes it easier to choose the right classes and electives to make the most of your time.
Perform a Gap Analysis
What skills and knowledge do you need to succeed, and how does that relate to what the MBA program teaches? While an MBA program will teach you how to manage people, you could cultivate emotional intelligence through reading on your own.
Do you want to be able to communicate to technical, business or international audiences? You may want to improve your vocabulary, and for some, strengthen your English language skills. Foreign students may have to pass English language proficiency exams like the TOEFL and IELTS. Here are some of the main skills MBA students will learn and develop:
- Critical thinking
- Supply chain management
- Cross-cultural competency
Making sure that you know exactly what you need from an MBA program will allow you to choose the right concentration and the right complementary courses that will make you more competitive whether you want to work in an administrative role in engineering or in business.
Create a List of Potential Schools
Once you have a post-MBA plan, you can start striking schools off your list because they aren’t compatible with your goals. Remember to consider online MBA programs, since they give you far more schedule flexibility and often have a lower price tag. You may want to sign up for an online MBA for engineers, especially if you want to move into engineering management or business consulting. However, there are some things that you’ll need to know before you go for an online MBA. Before you choose an online degree, here are some of the things you need to consider:
- Accreditation at the national and regional level
- School prestige and ranking
- Quality of the faculty
- Years in operation
One of the best things about online programs, however, is the kind of crowd they attract. Online students tend to be very diverse, but also very experienced. According to data from U.S news, the average student in an online MBA had a total of 8 years of prior experience in the MBA programs they ranked.
“This is invaluable” said online MBA student Monika Chandra. “Especially when we consider the amount of group work we do. The more experience you have, the more real-life examples you can share.”
And this one of the things that sets online MBAs apart. Entrepreneurs and people who want to advance their careers naturally gravitate to the MBA, including fellow engineers. This will open you up to a whole world of opportunities, and allow you to link up with students from all over the globe, in all sorts of fields and industries. Many end up forming partnerships or starting ventures with other students, and tap into markets many of their peers were completely oblivious too.
Compare Your Current State to the Admission Requirements
Another factor to consider is the gap between what you have and what MBA programs require for you to apply. Some MBA programs waive the requirement to take the GRE or GMAT. This is especially common when it comes to online programs. You may want to find an MBA program that waives this requirement, or you’ll need to start studying for the admission exam.
In some cases, you’ll need to be able to show that you’ve demonstrated leadership and used your knowledge to benefit others. Mentoring other engineers, providing STEM tutoring to high school students and volunteering with a charity are all great things to put on your college application.
Identify good recommendations now. Learn what paperwork may be required to apply to the school; college transcripts are a minimum. Know what your college GPA was and how that compares to MBA program requirements. While most business schools want a GPA of at least 3.5, that may be waived if you’ve been working for a number of years. Identity documents may be required, too. For example, foreign students may need to provide copies of their passport.
Apply to the MBA Programs
Once you’ve identified what you need from an MBA and identified several good schools, start applying to MBA programs. Pay attention to application requirements and submission deadlines, because you’ll be rejected if they don’t get the paperwork in time or forget the application fees.
You’ll need to submit letters of recommendation and college transcripts. Send your GMAT or GRE scores if required. Most schools require a paper like a professional motivation essay. Prepare for the admission interviews. Fortunately, much of this prep work was already done in the post-MBA plan. Be ready to discuss your future plans, your career interests and times you’ve already demonstrated leadership. Once accepted, you’ll begin your MBA course.
Engineers can use their systemic approach to things to find and apply for the right MBA program for them. Once you’re in, you’ll be able to master the MBA content and take your career to the next level. So, make sure that you take a hard look at all the options that are open to you, and don’t be afraid to talk with other engineers who went through the same path.