Advice on choosing your electives

12 February 2019

James Smith, Full-time MBA participant, shares his advice on choosing the right electives for your next career move, even if you don't know what that next move is yet.

Starting a Full-time MBA can be a hectic time. There is a lot to get used to, not least returning to study and likely relocating. When I began my MBA, while I had in mind several ideas of what I would like to do next, I didn’t have a specific focus. There were, and still are, a range of possibilities and I do not dismiss the possibility of something I’ve not even thought of yet arising before the end of the course!

It felt like it was very early on in the course when I had to select my electives to compliment the core modules. As I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after my MBA, I decided to balance topics I thought were interesting with topics I thought would be useful. Fortunately for me, I came up with a list of electives on which each option was both. The main challenge I faced was deciding which electives to not include. I ultimately decided to focus on the Entrepreneur specialism, and also chose the Business and Sustainability module, as this strikes me as a significant and essential area of growth in future.

When thinking about electives, the advice I found useful and would share with those facing the choice is given below, with apologies for how obvious it may seem!

  • Spend some time thinking about what you are likely to be doing after your MBA and reflect on whether there are any knowledge gaps you have that the MBA electives can address. This doesn’t have to be exact, and any general idea of sector or types of role you’d like to aim for will help. Also don’t worry too much if you don’t know what you want to do after your MBA at the point of choosing electives, as it is early on in the course. For me, the MBA is in part about exploring my options.
  • If you haven’t yet applied for your MBA, review what core and elective options are available to you, as this could have a big impact on your experience. This seems particularly important if you have a very specific focus you are looking for.
  • Speak to current MBA students and alumni. Seek the views of those who have done electives you think you may be interested in. LinkedIn is a useful resource for connecting with alumni. I contacted several people, both in person at open day events and over LinkedIn, and asked about their elective choices and their reasons for selecting them, and these discussions really helped me feel confident with my selection.

I hope you found these points useful, even if only to confirm your previous thoughts. I wish you all the best of luck with your applications to course, future studies, and beyond!

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