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Pursuing an MBA 101 – Advice from a Part-Time Student

When I first decided to do my MBA at Ryerson, I asked people who had already gone through the program what advice they had. I was surprised by the consistency of their answers:

1)      Time management is key
2)      Forget about pre-conceived notions of “perfection”
3)      Learn to work with others

Now for most people this would be excellent information. However, for a somewhat disorganized perfectionist, with humble social skills, this was not what I wanted to hear. No worries though, I am a smart boy. I will be able to get through this MBA doing things exactly as I always have, with hard work and a commitment to doing the best I can regardless of what others might think or do. I had it all figured out.

Then I had to take Strategy and Finance in the same semester. Major Deliverables were due each week, and I mean major – some of them were up to 30 pages in length. There was no way to this without group work. Therefore, I had to learn to work with others. Fortunately, for me, I was placed with an outstanding group that work very well together.

In addition, I am doing my MBA on a part time basis while working full-time. I have two kids, a beautiful wife and a multitude of interesting hobbies. I found myself actually managing my family time more than anything else. In fact, I have a standing tea party ever Saturday at 3:00pm followed by a game of catch at 4:00pm and then a hike in the woods with the whole family at 5:00pm. Unfortunately, I have not seen my wife in over three months.  Kidding, we get together for about 15 minutes each morning over the coffee maker.

When you are working with multiple people on projects that have ridiculously short turnaround times, you are never going to get the project where you thought you wanted it to be. This is partially due to lack of time, but mainly because everyone has a different vision of what the end product should look like. You have to give up on what you want in order to be receptive to new perspectives and to get the job done. Trust me, it will turn out better than you thought – especially in the Ryerson MBA where your classmates are comprised of Engineers, bankers, teachers, musicians and IT project managers – to name a few.

To anyone thinking about doing his or her MBA at Ryerson, I say go for it. It is a challenge, but anything worth doing always is a challenge. It is hard work, but the learning is well worth it. The only real advice I could give you is:

1)      Time management is key
2)      Forget about pre-conceived notions of “perfection”
3)      Learn to work with others

Granted, I am probably a small sample set, but I am confident that others will agree with me.

Dan Kennedy is a Career Consultant with the TRSM Career & Employer Partnerships, pursuing his MBA on a part time basis.

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