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Advice on how to get the most out of an MBA programme

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Myleen Hollero / Wikimedia Foundation

What advice do MBA graduates from top business schools have for prospective MBA students? This question was asked on the knowledge platform Quora and even made it into a Forbes article. The answer by Kelly Battles, CFO at Quora, and a business alumna from Harvard Business School, is a great summary for aspiring students.

1 - Work hard. As with most things, you get out of it what you invest in it. Business school is expensive both in time and treasure, so make it count.

2 - That said, don’t sweat the small stuff. Business school cases take the amount of time you have for them so be efficient and set your limits. At HBS when I was there, most everyone made the same grade so if still true, work to learn, don’t work for work’s sake or for the grade.

3 - Use the extra time you have from #2 to get to know your colleagues - both students and teachers. Per my previous answer(s) to related questions, much of the value in an MBA is in the network, so invest in it. And when I say that, I mean invest in deep relationships with your colleagues versus having fun party buddies. In all honesty, I worked very hard (especially my first year) and went to HBS with at least two very dear friends, so I did not practice what I now preach on this as much I would have liked. That said, in the beginning of my second year at HBS, I randomly met probably the single biggest career influencer in my life (and now a dear friend of both mine and my husband’s) and over time was lucky enough to build a meaningful relationship with him. I feel very fortunate about this - to this day - and wish I had invested more here.

4 - Don’t freak out. At HBS, people can “hit the screen” or “fail out”. During my first year, people worried about this inordinately and it caused a high level of stress and anxiety. I am convinced that HBS has a reputation for having “overly-competitive” students because of this “mania”. In the end, most people I knew who hit the screen either didn’t speak English as their first language or really were uncertain about wanting to be in business school in the first place. And more importantly, once students chilled out, they learned more, had more time to invest in getting to know people, and importantly, had more fun.

5 - Take advantage of the potentially amazing career resources offered by your program to find super summer and full-time jobs. I don’t think I ever had more superlatively strong career services support than I did while at HBS. Leverage this asset while at school and beyond!

This question and answer was originally published on Quora and picked up by Forbes.

Read more on www.forbes.com and www.quora.com

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