It has been interesting to hear and observe some of the reactions of my part-time MBA fellow graduates in the wake of the graduation. The recurring theme in verbal exchanges from some of my former classmates is, “what are you doing now with all the free time you’ve got?” Another popular one: “Are you looking for a new job now that you’ve got your degree?”
I admit, these questions might be specific to part-time MBA graduates, and not as relevant for the full-timers. The reason for this is that in the past three (two years for Accelerated MBA) we all have been juggling the full-time job with the studies, personal and family obligations, so our free time was almost non-existent. Many of my classmates had reasonably-paying jobs even before starting an MBA, so they leverage their degree to get a promotion or/and a pay raise with their current employers, and therefore they are not looking for a job. Some of us got a new job or a promotion while still doing MBA part-time, therefore we are not pressured to look for a job right after school.
That’s why for these two groups of students who, as I have a sense from conversations and social media updates, make up close to three quarters of the graduated class, the issue of this suddenly available free time is quite overwhelming, in a good sense though. Also, as I mentioned in one of my recent posts, with graduation there is a certain sense of loss of purpose. We have been hustling our ways to the degree, chronically busy with job/school stuff, so we did not have much time to reflect on “what’s now?” question. Now we have time for some self-reflection.
So, how do the graduates from part-time MBA program deal with this double whammy of loss of purpose and abundance, in relative terms of course, of newly found free time.
The reflections that follow are just casual observations of what I see from my classmates or experience myself.
Many people get back to their pre-MBA circles of friends and family and have more socializing time with them. Others resume or give more time to their hobbies and other interests in life. Among these graduates are also those who find new or resume old volunteering opportunities. This approach definitely may help solve both issues of time and purpose.
I know of three families who either got a baby shortly before or expect one within a few months after graduation. This will sure keep them busy for a while Babies also give great purpose.
Yet another, though smaller, still noticeable group are looking for further enhancement in their educational and professional credentials. I mentioned briefly this phenomenon of MBA enhancement in my post on MBA Bubble. I know one guy who went straight out of school to earn another Masters degree, while at least a couple of people entertain the idea of getting their PhD. Three people I know of are pursuing advanced professional certification, namely CPA, right out of business school. It is not surprising, as many of my fellow MBAs are quite a determined and purpose-driven bunch.
I am personally in the category of those part-time MBAs who got a new job while still at business school, and I am comfortable with it for the time being. So while I don’t have pressures of looking for a new one, I do have the time/purpose issues to be resolved.
So, this is how I deal with it. First, I am getting a big scoop of socializing and other activities that were put on hold or slow burner during my MBA. I intend to have more fun by exploring social landscape with family, friends, colleagues, and MBA classmates.
One of the activities I am resuming is my weekend hiking routine. While in business school I learned about the One Day Hike organized by Sierra Club. It’s a 100 kilometers (50 kilometers option available) hike, but I could not participate in it as it takes place in late April/early May – right around the end of the Spring term with finals and other deliverables due. I am definitely planning to do it next year, and hiking I do love. So this is one of those “for pleasure” things I am able to have more past my MBA. There are other activities I am planning for this summer with my family that I passed on in the last three years.
I am also planning to get a PMP (Project Management Professional) certification this fall, so I am starting my preparation for the PMP test. I am going slow on that right now, but in August, after my vacation, I will go full-throttle in studying. This will keep me busy for a couple of months. I am also thinking of picking up a marketing consulting gig on a side, but that one is only tentative at this time. If I dare into it, I will sure keep the readers posted.
So to answer the question whether there is life after MBA for part-time students, the answer is “YES!”, and life is plentiful