Engineering would fit into “Consulting” but so would a lot of other disciplines. It’s safe to say that even if I’m in the most common profession among my classmates, 80% or more of them will graduate and go off to work in areas that will never interact with my profession.
Also, the percentage of international students in Berkeley’s 2017 class was 39%. This means that there’s a good chance that my fellow alumni might not even stay in the country when they finish.
Therefore, when someone tries to tell me that I’m going to gain a large network of connections by getting a traditional MBA, I agree with them. I just think that the network will be mostly useless to me.
“So how do you suggest I network?” You already know the answer to this. All you need is a kick in the pants to make yourself get out there and actually do it.
You can start with the easy stuff: Online Networking. This requires an internet connection and a smartphone – two things you already have. Start by following business mentors on Twitter. Remember, Twitter is public, so any article you share or opinion you express can be used against you. Tweet and retweet from a business point of view, and even consider setting up two accounts – one for personal, and one for professional.
Your LinkedIn should always be kept up to date. You don’t have to post very much, but it is a powerful way to connect with people once you meet them in person.
Now the hard part: Meeting them in person.
Conferences, mixers, lunch-and-learns, seminars, training courses, industry nights, career fairs, open houses, presentations, professional associations…the list goes on and on. If you have a job in the industry, you get email invites to these events constantly. You have trade magazines sitting in your breakroom right now with a list of professional development events and conferences for you to go to.
All you have to do is actually go to them; and in most cases, your company will even pay for you.
A traditional MBA gives you a network of people, but not necessarily the right people. Motivating yourself to get out there and meet new people comes at a low cost to you, with tremendous benefit.
All you have to do is motivate yourself to take the first step.
For me, as an engineer, I only share a common degree with 15% of the class. Even if I had a business degree, I still don’t have the same degree as 79% of my classmates.
Now let’s look at the industries that MBA students will be going back to:
Note 1: Berkeley admissions class profile was taken from: https://mba.haas.berkeley.edu/admissions/class-profile.html
The network of friends and connections you make at an MBA school can be the best thing you ever spend your $50,000 on. However, I guarantee you that for $50,000 you can meet a lot more people and a lot more of the actual people you need to meet, by doing networking the right way.
I’m an engineer. I want to network with other engineers, contractors, and clients. If I get a traditional MBA, I will be exposed to a wide variety of people…who are not engineers, contractors, or future clients.
Let’s look at the Berkeley¹ MBA Class of 2017, and what their undergraduate degrees were in: