Heading into an MBA with No Business Background? No Problem!


Incoming MBA students without a business background often wonder whether or not they’re at a disadvantage compared to their fellow classmates with a business-related education and work experience. If this is you, rest assured you’re far from alone. Nationwide, more than half of the students entering MBA programs do not hold undergraduate degrees in business.

There are certainly a number of ways you can get yourself up to speed on business subject matters so you won’t feel behind when starting out. Check out our top five tips below!

1. Build a Foundation

Since many incoming MBA students do not have prior business study, top b-schools such as the Neeley School at TCU provide access to resources that can help you get a head start on important content. Prior to the start of school, TCU Neeley has all incoming students complete interactive online modules in accounting and quantitative methods that will help build (or refresh) your knowledge base. These modules lay the foundation for workshops taught by our professors as part of orientation, all so you can be ready to hit the ground running on your first day of class.

2. Increase Your General Industry Knowledge

Start reading news outlets like Financial Times and The Economist to familiarize yourself with business language and become better acquainted with the business industry in general.

It’s also never too early to begin scoping out the post-MBA career landscape. At TCU Neeley, our career coaches provide incoming students with a library of recommended websites and online resources that can help students to get a sense of their career options and begin initial research for discussion in career coaching sessions to come.

Additionally, prior to the beginning of the first semester, the Neeley Graduate Career Center provides several full-day JumpSTART symposiums, each of which focus on a broad career path such as finance, marketing or supply chain. Students get the chance to take a deeper look into their career options through sessions led by industry experts and alumni panels. All of these pre-MBA activities set the tone for a wide range of career and industry exploration once the semester begins.

3. Network

Though your program has not started yet, networking now will benefit you in creating connections within the TCU community. Networking will allow you to ask questions and strengthen any weak areas you may find in preparation for your program. Furthermore, speaking with professionals in several areas of the business field will help you become more familiar with specific industries, language, etiquette and more.

Alumni are also a great resource for initial networking, and typically are very eager to welcome new students into the TCU community. TCU Neeley hosts several pre-MBA events that help connect incoming students with alumni. Of course, once the program begins, students have access to myriad events, mentor programs and other experiences to tap into TCU’s extensive and powerful network.

4. Have Confidence in Why You’re Getting Your MBA

There’s a reason why you decided to pursue your MBA, so you’ll always want to keep your goals in mind. Write them on Post-it notes to keep on your bathroom mirror or on an index card in your bag to refer to whenever needed.

Stay confident in your goals and the skills that have brought you as far as they have. They’ll continue to fuel you and give you the drive and determination to succeed.

5. Take Advantage of START

Prior to the first class day, START (a required immersive 13-day experience for incoming full-time MBA students) provides tools that stuents can use to be successful both academically and culturally. During this time, students engage heavily with faculty, who lead workshops focused on topics like critical thinking and strategy, and spend time learning to maximize the resources available to them through the Graduate Career Center. They interact with alumni, expanding their networks and understanding of MBA career paths, and engage in high caliber teambuilding activities designed to help them get to know, and align on expectations with, their new MBA teammates. Following several days of preparation and coaching, START Workshop culminates with a live case competition that is hosted by a corporate sponsor.

Follow our tips to prepare for your MBA program and you’ll get off to a running start with a boost to your knowledge and confidence. Know that there’s always a good mix of students with business backgrounds and non-business backgrounds — both types of students bring different perspectives, experiences and knowledge to the table that benefits the other. Remember, a good portion of being part of an MBA program involves teamwork and collaborating with others — and you have plenty to offer already!

Are you considering getting your MBA? Contact us to discuss your career goals and to learn how TCU Neeley might be able to help you reach them.

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