Mythbusting and straight-talking are among my favourite things, so when I read a great article in Forbes, which you can peruse at http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2011/08/10/the-ten-biggest-lies-of-b-school/ I almost punched the air in triumph! Maybe the American college context had more of an effect on me than I anticipated.
Have a read and you probably won’t be surprised to learn that number 7 is the one that really struck a chord with me:
The “soft” courses (leadership and people management) are least important*. I remember talking to the professors from the Management Department at my school who had to teach the courses on leadership and people management. They used to lament that the MBAs never paid attention to them in class. Yet, the Executive MBAs (usually in their 40s or 50s) always told them that these courses were the most important of all the B-School classes they took. You learn after B-School that the perfect answer or strategy means nothing if you can’t get people around you to buy in to it and help you achieve it. To do that, you need to motivate them, listen to them, connect with them, and support them when they need it.
* just to confirm, that bit’s the myth!
Learning your subject is undoubtedly important, but what most employers’ wishlists have in common is a set of transferable skills that can be exercised and developed by all students who take the opportunities provided. Unfortunately, calling them ‘soft’ skills seems to cause confusion about their importance!
When you look at the main points, this article applies far more widely than just to Business Schools and MBAs. The truth is, no degree in any subject will give you a Golden Key to Success and Prosperity. It’s a competitive world, with so many people taking up university studies now that it would be madness to think that simply getting your certificate guarantees a top job.
In a world with loads of graduates, you need to find your own path and a way to differentiate yourself. Do your research! Reflect and discuss! Be decisive! Take action! Getting yourself out there is the best way to get noticed and taken seriously by employers and that needs YOU to take a step.
P.S. if you love mythbusting too, try www.snopes.com and nullify all the stupid scare stories forwarded by well-meaning people who don’t take time to check the facts!