Gone are the days when getting a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is required to rise in the corporate ladder. International news outlet Forbes reported many MBA programs are experiencing double-digit declines in their enrollment numbers. Young professionals are showing less due to its steep opportunity cost both in time and money. Who can blame them when you see entrepreneurs like Alibaba founder Jack Ma or Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel able to bring their companies to new heights without the advanced degree? Consider these alternatives in honing your business skills without the six-figure price tag or two years of investment as a full-time student.
Start a business
There’s no better teacher than experience. Starting a business exposes a person to all business areas – marketing, finance, operations, human resources, and strategy. You can get an overview of an MBA, but it is through a real-life application that you can truly know what it takes to succeed. Lectures and case studies don’t hold a candle to the lessons you’ll get for failing to reach a budget or making your first sale.
The cost of a printing franchise is small compared to the innovation and creativity one develops while starting a business. Nothing is more valuable than trial and error.
Seek out free online and offline knowledge resources
The internet has made information easily accessible at a fraction of a cost. You no longer have to buy those bulky encyclopedias or enroll in a private school to be able to gain further knowledge. There are online courses available for almost any field of study, most of them free like on Coursera or edX. You’ll get to virtually sit in on a lecture and work on assignments from the Harvards and Stanfords of this world. Next thing you know, you’re able to cover the MBA curriculum without paying.
You can also listen to podcasts and make the most out of your commute. Successful professionals are regularly featured and interviewed about their insights in their field of expertise. You can learn about cryptocurrency or design thinking while waiting for the favorite coffee shop barista to call your name.
Choose a more specialized field of study
An MBA education can be considered as a jack of all trade’s degree. This type of degree can give a bird’s eye view perspective managers need to implement a project and lead their team. However, having specialized knowledge and experience can give you a better edge in popular industries like technology and branding. Employers would likely choose someone able to develop their first mobile application than just a degree holder.
You can opt to get specialized master’s degrees or certifications. They are shorter, less expensive, and more targeted. Some companies even pay for your enrollment as part of their employee training and development program.
Find a mentor or hire a career coach
Finding a mentor can be more valuable than pursuing a degree. They can teach you how to navigate your chosen career and avoid making the same mistakes they did. Mentors can give objective advice without much worry about gossip and conflict of interest. They can also connect you to their network, opening doors you wouldn’t have known.
Research a person whose career path you want to emulate. Ask them how they were able to achieve their goals, what resources they recommend, and what skills you need to learn to succeed.
An MBA is still an excellent option to help level up your career and make your resume stand out. However, if you lack the resources to enroll, there are countless alternatives available to help you reach your goal.