Career coach shares his 4 tips to help you make the most of your MBA

SOURCE: Rick Diamond/Getty Images/AFP
"The most pivotal moment of your MBA career actually begins in very early stages of your MBA program (preferably even before you arrive on-campus) as it will get very busy, says career expert Lassi Albin Viljakainen."

By Geetha Bai 

Read all stories

Lassi Albin Viljakainen, certified executive and MBA career coach stated that the process of getting an MBA can be one of the most unique journeys in your career.

He is the creator of the MBA Job Search online programme and has accumulated over 2,000 coaching hours working with talent from more than 50 nationalities.

In his experience, some MBA students start out on this journey with a clear destination from the start but for others, it is a jump into the unknown and that can be both an exciting and new experience.

But regardless of how you start out when you go in with the right mindset and determination, the experience will be life-changing, he asserts.

Viljakainen shares that he finds the MBA journey to be made up of four core parts, each playing a crucial role in the student’s development and success during and after the programme.

He adds that the goal is to strike a balance between these four areas and find a way to make the most out of all of them.

Viljakainen categorises these four parts into the following: self-exploration, career management, academics, and finally networking.

Your MBA journey can be a transformational process if you keep an open mind

Viljakainen says that getting an MBA can be overwhelming due to the sheer volume of opportunities and directions that will become available to you.

Noting the transformation moments that MBA students experience in this journey, he says, “I always get a big smile on my face when I talk to MBA students and hear about their transformational moments during their MBA journeys.”

Getting an MBA can be nothing short of chaotic, he adds, “Your peers, your courses, and the companies that you are exposed to will create chaos, albeit a wanted one, in your mind.”

However, the onus lies on you to immerse yourself in the programme with an open mind and childlike curiosity. That, he says will enable you to absorb all the knowledge that is flowing in.

At the same time and when the time is right, he says that you should choose the targets for your baseline and then give your best effort.


Start planning for your career before your MBA programme starts

While all of the four focus areas are important, the most pivotal moment actually begins on the day after you graduate from your MBA, says they career expert.Viljakainen says, “The corporate building you will be walking into for your post-MBA career is determined by how well you have managed your career planning and preparation before and during your MBA programme.”

His advice to ace this step is to begin your career planning process before your first MBA class as this will allow you to ask the right questions from your career services team.

So, in case you are still deciding which programme to join, make sure that career planning is part of that process, he cautions.

“During your programme, allow the self-exploration process to take place, but also draw timelines when you need to set the targets and commit to those objectives. Consulting and finance summer processes will hit you hard if you fancy those then put full focus on those processes. Other sectors allow for a later timeline. And finally, networking and alumni connections are fountains of opportunities and a must for any successful post-MBA career,” Viljakainen advice.


Lassi Albin
                                    Lassi Albin Viljakainen is a certified executive and MBA career coach.

Focus on getting good grades in your core subjects

Quite simply, do your best in core subjects and be a sponge for information. At the same time, remember that you are surrounded by many brilliant minds and it is important to keep the balance between the four pillars here, says Albin.

However, he cautions against getting stuck on winning at the grades-game, “Do not get stuck competing on grades with Einstein, and jeopardise your career management or networking time. Once your self-exploration process has come to an end, select the best matching electives to cater to your future needs and employability.”

Networking during your MBA should be a top priority

Viljakainen asserts that while networking is an area that rarely comes naturally to anyone, it is a must for any MBA student who wants to succeed in their career.

Networking tactics and professional behaviour can be practiced and learned and it is a core skill for any MBA student during and after their programme, he says.

You can start by networking with your peers. Viljakainen suggests that these students reach out to 1st year and 2nd-year students by obtaining as this information can be obtained from programme management.

MBA students should make it a priority to research and contact alumni, and also have a razor-sharp target list of industry people that should make up your network.

To learn more about how to boost your MBA career management, you can join Lassi Viljakainen’s free live webinar here: