The Final Push: Preparing to Graduate

Make the most of it!

All people who start an MBA program have the intention of graduating someday, but that someday comes surprisingly quickly. In the midst of coursework, deadlines, and life in general, graduation is upon us before we realize it. The last semester leading up to graduation is a busy one, with the added work that can come with full schedules and additional events to plan for—like commencement.  It’s a time of transition and anticipation.  Most of us probably look forward to saying goodbye to weekend assignments, and hello to Netflix binge-watching. Some of us may be hesitant to don the cap and gown and take our next career steps, post-degree. We’re excited to use our freshly-honed skills in the real world, but we’ll miss the camaraderie of our cohort.

There are a number of ways MBA students can prepare for graduation and make the most of our last semester—while making our academic, personal, and professional life that much easier in the process.

Schedule

Knowing your anticipated graduation date and registration schedule is half of the battle. Sometimes life gets in the way, and you may need to take a term away from classes or be flexible with class substitutions to graduate within your intended timeline. Setting a clear path and being realistic about your workload will help a great deal. It’s also a good idea to meet with faculty to determine what will work best for you, which may also mean taking more than one class at a time (a daunting, but not impossible, task). 

More Organization, Less Procrastination

As anyone who has attempted a graduate education will tell you, procrastination is not your friend. The key to success is planning ahead and managing time like an ace. The last semester is going to be busy and you don’t want to miss out on fun opportunities because you were scrolling through social media in lieu of coursework and preparing for your next steps.

Networking, aka Make More Friends

Tap into your current connections and ask around for introductions to people already in your desired field. Networking is important and will help you prepare for your post-MBA days. Setting up informational interviews, attending conferences and industry events, asking important questions, and establishing a to-do list for your next career move is key to leveraging your MBA. The saying goes something along the lines of no one succeeds alone, right? Branch out.

Do Your Research

Along with networking, prepare yourself for your future plans. This may mean doing research about interesting organizations, job opportunities, and additional hands-on learning opportunities. Know where you want to go and how to get there. Reaching out to the person that currently holds your dream job and asking for advice or mentorship is never going to hurt you; the answer is always no if you don’t ask.

Make the most of it!

While most of us are excited to be completing the MBA journey by the time graduation rolls around, it’s important to also enjoy the time we have left in the program and with the people that have been with us along the way. We’ve learned a great deal, and we can claim new and valued friends met while in the program. Last semesters can be bittersweet; the anticipation to forge ahead is exciting, but sometimes that means leaving other things behind.  Between the presentations and final papers, appreciate the time you have left on campus, in classrooms, with peers, faculty, and friends.

Looking back on my MBA studies, it went by in a blink. The promise of new opportunities creates excitement as we close this chapter and look forward to what lies ahead.


Written by Jennifer Burgess
Jennifer is pursuing her MBA with a concentration in Integrated Marketing Communications and currently works at St. Catherine University. She formerly spent her days as an art historian, and can often be found wandering museums when not completing coursework. She loves spending time with her family and friends, walking her two spaniels Rex and Bernard, reading (for fun!) and planning her next travel adventure.