What happens in an MBA program – the courses taught, the shift in curriculum and general life of MBA student.

Congratulations on getting into the MBA program of your choice!

Now, what?

Unfortunately, getting into the MBA program is only the first step – there are now several other factors to consider. Thankfully, the factors are a lot more light-hearted as when compared to getting in and deciding which MBA you should take!

MBAs are typically Masters courses, so do not expect the lessons to be as relaxed and flexible as the undergraduate courses.

Typically, while all business schools will teach similar modules like economics and business marketing practices, different business school have different philosophies to subscribe to. For example, Harvard Business School offers a philosophy of cross-disciplinary fields that helps in creating unique opportunities for students to leverage, while Yale Business School focuses on building an immersive workplace for people varying origins to be at their very best. This also would mean that each school would have slightly different modules available for students, so that would be something to keep in mind.

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Typical Courses in an MBA Program

As for the courses taught, they are relatively standard across the board. Do note that these are general courses within the MBA itself. However, there are specialised MBAs that cater specifically to these fields only. They are:-

  1. Accounting. In an MBA, students will learn to read, interpret and create financial statements. The more advanced classes will teach students on managing business taxes and learning how to cut unnecessary business costs.
  2. Economics. While economics isn’t exactly part of the business field, these two usually would have some form of intersecting. Students will learn how goods and services are exchanged, as well as utilising supply and demand for the benefit of the company the student will work for.
  3. Finance. Usually, for finance, students will learn how to manage investment portfolios successfully (success here is very subjective to the company goals and vision of course). Finance classes usually range from budgeting, investments and securities management as well as managing cash flow to maximise company resource allocation to the varying departments.
  4. Marketing. Arguably the most important in an MBA, marketing classes will teach students to communicate with clients and potential customers in order to influence their buying or spending patterns. Classes can include online advertising, utilising social media as an influencing factor as well as marketing research and copywriting.
  5. Management. Management is probably the field that encompasses the entire field of business from leadership, to managing company vision, planning and building key strategies for the company’s successes. This is perhaps one of the more human elements of the MBA (along with marketing) and that makes management classes a little tougher than the rest. Don’t be surprised if there are elements of consumer and business psychology thrown into the mix!
  6. International Business. As the world moves ever closer to full globalisation, it is extremely important to be well versed in the various cultures that the company will expand into (or at the very least, know how to not anger the culture that the company is trying to expand into) so that business negotiations and workflow will be as smooth and efficient as possible.
  7. Business Law. While the business law is generally best left to the lawyers who actually specialise in business law, as an MBA holder, it is also important for business people to know a few basic terminologies and the law to be able to communicate with the lawyers. Not to worry, business law is a smaller part of an MBA degree, and the content covered is usually a general broad overview rather than a specific, nitty-gritty element of the MBA.

A two-year full-time MBA is no walk in the mark. In the first year of the MBA program, expect a very fast paced flurry of modules to be thrown in your face. It would actually feel like your first year in business school in fast forward actually. Expect the majority of the seven courses above to come all at once! It will be difficult, but rewarding.

After the first year of the MBA will come the summer break. However, many business students will utilise this summer break to hunt for internships with the large corporations, hoping to secure a full-time position after their second year and graduation from business school.

After the first year, generally, everyone is a lot more relaxed. Usually, the second year is the time when people start to socialise and network around (remember that your network is your net worth). This usually allows for many new friendships to form, as well as potentially finding your potential business partners and mentors later on in your career.

Get to know as many people as you can, and it will ensure that you’ll never truly lack opportunities whenever you need one!

Also, don’t forget about your seniors, professors and the alumni of the business school! These people are usually rich in contacts and experience, so they would be invaluable to have around. Who knows, your senior alumni could very well be the one to help kick-start your career in your dream corporation!

As the startup culture picked up back in 2003, business schools also slowly left the rigid ways of academic MBAs and decided to provide a curriculum that is both demanding yet flexible enough that MBA holders can be easily deployed in both the corporate and startup world with relative ease. As such, MBAs are one of the few degrees that are getting more relevant as it rides the wave of the new generation of business startups. So yes, if you’re planning on getting an MBA program, you would never be found wanting; there is always a need for competent MBA graduates anyway.

Just remember the most important thing in business:

Your network is your net worth!

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Founder @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is the Advisor (former CEO) of The New Savvy. She is currently the COO of ABZD Capital and the CMO of Gourmet Food Holdings, an investment firm focusing on opportunities in the global F&B industry. She is part of the founding committee of the Singapore FinTech Association and heads the Women In FinTech and Partnership Committee. Anna is the President of the Singapore Management University Women Alumni. Anna invests and sits on the board of a few startups. Anna is also part of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry Career Women’s Group executive committee. Anna’s story is featured on Millionaire Minds on Channel NewsAsia. She hosts TV shows and events, namely for Channel NewsAsia’s “The Millennial Investor” and “Challenge Tomorrow”, a FinTech documentary. Anna was awarded “Her Times Youth Award” at the Rising50 Women Empowerment Gala, organised by the Indonesian Embassy of Singapore. The award was presented by His Excellency Ngurah Swajaya. She was also awarded Founder of the Year for ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards. She was also awarded the Women Empowerment Award by the Asian Business & Social Forum. Anna has been awarded LinkedIn Power Profiles for founders (2018, 2017), Tatler Gen T, The Peak’s Trailblazers under 40 and a nominee for the Women of The Future award by Aviva


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