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3 Unexpected Things You Gain from an MBA

I was at a crossroads and wasn’t sure where to go next. I had been a teacher, but no longer wanted to be. I had been a project manager and liked it, but felt I didn’t have the proper skillset to take that career to the next level for a bigger, better company.

I was also a fundraiser at one point; I was good at it, but I wanted the opportunity to develop other skills. Nothing I had done, or was doing, was exactly what I wanted. There are three distinct ways that getting an MBA changed my life:

1. Confidence

With an MBA under my belt, I now have the confidence to hold conversations with people well above my pay grade about what they do and how they do it. While getting my MBA, I learned how to have powerful conversations about my unique skills. My atypical career history has been and continues to be a game changer. Women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. We’ve allowed others to take credit for our work, and we shy away from being our own cheerleaders. Building confidence helps with all these issues and, over time, they can dramatically increase your earning potential.

2. Credibility

A former VC boss of mine would say he had “an MBA from the School of Hard Knocks” which I’m sure required fewer student loans than the traditional MBA. Some industries require a certain amount of street cred before they take you seriously. That credibility can in fact be earned on the street while getting your hands dirty as an entrepreneur. The academic version of street cred is the MBA.

3. Curiosity

What some people call “networking,” I call being curious. I am always interested in what other people do and how they do it. How did the woman from that article in Fast Company, who has my dream job, get it? How did that guy on the plane beside me retire at 36? Good or bad, the world has been and is continuing to move in the direction of being more about who you know than what you know. Don’t just exchange business cards; build a relationship by keeping in touch. Learn something about the people you’re in school with and be of value. More often than you think, people will return the favor.

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