What is an MBA?

There are many misconceptions on what an MBA is – what the degree involves, and what kind of people pursue it. MBAs are sometimes perceived as simply being pushy, arrogant, entitled, greedy and unethical, as strictly ‘Type A’ personalities. But we are all that and more.

The MBA candidates that I attended school with come from a diverse set of backgrounds. There was a reverend who just graduated Spring quarter and wants to continue helping the world. Others come from public service and non-profit management. A bunch of us come from IT backgrounds. Others come from traditional business areas such as finance, accounting, HR and logistics. I am certainly not a Type A.

But what really makes an MBA stand out from most other academic programs is the large breadth of disciplines one has to master: quantitative and verbal reasoning, organizational and consumer psychology, ‘hard’ skills such as statistics and calculus, and ‘soft’ skills such as communications and marketing. On top of that, you’ll need a solid understanding of economics, political science and law.

And you can’t just be a greedy jerk: successful business people know to leave a little on the table for others so they are willing to work with you again, and also know that you can’t lead as a jerk because nobody will want to follow you.

The best part is, you don’t have to come in already knowing all this. Chances are, you are missing at least a couple now. Don’t worry: if you are willing to put the work in, you’ll learn it all here.

So whatever discipline you are in now, if you want to advance your career and want to keep the maximum quantity and quality of options open, an MBA is a good bet. Then you can help me fight the stereotyping.