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What to Look for in an MBA Program: Alumni Networks

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Abound: MBA »

As a prospective MBA student, you want to know how to choose a business school and how to ensure the program you are looking at is the best one for you. While location, classes, professors, and financial aid are all important factors in picking a business school, you should consider another aspect: the strength of the program’s alumni network.

Contrary to what it might sound like on the surface, alumni networking is not just about hanging out with school chums; rather, an active and thriving alumni network can help you find a job, provide advice, counsel you in choosing a career, and even determine how successful the particular business program is.

In this article, we will examine alumni networks, how to research them, and why they should matter to you.

What Is an MBA Alumni Network?

An MBA alumni network is an online resource for current students and graduates of a school’s Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program. Through the use of digital tools such as forums, blogs, chat rooms, job boards, and more, alumni networks can offer invaluable professional development support from experienced graduates who have completed the very degree program you are looking at.

These networks provide members with opportunities to interact, share advice and resources, and stay connected to their alma mater. More than this, they can give alumni access to job postings and career networking opportunities that could be extremely valuable when searching for new employment or career advancement. Finally, many alumni networks host events throughout the year, which can help students and alumni build relationships among other professionals in their field.

How Do I Research a School’s Alumni Network?

To determine whether a school has an MBA alumni network—and whether it’s active—you will need to do a bit of research. The best way to do this is to visit the website of your prospective university’s business school or MBA program office. Most university websites will have detailed information about any existing networking opportunities available to students when they become a part of the program. Alternatively, you can contact the program director or staff to get more details about their network.

Once you have found out about the network, it is a good idea to see how active it is. Some universities will have a dedicated alumni page on their website with links to the social platforms they use. If you peruse these social media groups and forums, you can see how active the alumni are and, therefore, whether the network is thriving.

Why Should I Pay Attention to Alumni Networks?

For a prospective student considering an MBA program, you should pay attention to alumni networks for several reasons. When you are paying thousands of dollars and getting into debt to pursue an MBA program, you will want to make sure it is going to set you up for success. An active alumni network is one of the key things to look for, as industry connections are nearly as important as the business knowledge you gain in class. Evaluating the interactions between alumni can be an excellent tool to test whether a particular business school is going to lead you in your desired direction.

Employment Opportunities

The first and most beneficial part of a high-quality alumni network is that it provides exclusive employment opportunities/job postings that might not otherwise be available on ordinary job boards. 

Likewise, a thriving alumni network will provide you with chances to connect with peers and pros in similar fields. This could include invitations to events like career fairs or conferences. Word of mouth is a powerful factor in landing a job, so your connections will be invaluable to your success.

Advice From Experienced Grads

While you are in the MBA program and after you graduate, a good alumni network will give you a way to ask for and receive advice from experienced graduates. An online alumni community will consist of like-minded, ambitious current and former students who can help you reach both your academic and career goals. For instance, a recent graduate of a particular MBA program would be able to advise you on how to study and what you need to do to succeed in the program. You can also gain advice on handling specific challenges before and after you earn the degree.

Career Counseling

When looking at a program, you will definitely want to ensure it provides career counseling services. Many times, these services will be provided by alumni themselves.

Career counseling can advise you on how your MBA degree can help you, what job fields will be open to you, where to find them, and how to connect with other professionals in your chosen field.

Evaluating the Success of the Program

Of course, the final thing you can glean from an MBA program’s alumni network is the success of the program itself. Regardless of what the marketing messages and rankings lists are telling you, you need to check this for yourself. One way to use an alumni network to your advantage is to see where they ended up in their careers. 

If the alumni network is made up of highly successful alumni, former students who are in executive positions within a few years, or those who started their own successful businesses, then you can be sure that the program you are looking at is going to benefit you as well.

In sum, alumni networks can tell you a lot about a program and provide you with many important benefits.

Looking for More Advice Before Jumping into an MBA Program?

No matter where you are in your MBA journey, Abound can help. Check out our other articles, all of which are aimed at helping you find, apply to, and succeed in the MBA program that’s perfect for you!

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