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Weighing factors in choosing an MBA school Add to ...

THE QUESTION:

I'm looking to start a master of business administration program this fall and am facing a dilemma I think every student faces when deciding which school to attend. I'm currently working in Calgary as an engineer in the oil and gas industry. I've received an offer from a top MBA school in Ontario. However I want to stay in the energy industry after the degree, and am deciding whether to pursue it Calgary, do it from the University of Houston or go to Ontario. While the Ontario school’s reputation stands out, I'm not sure whether studying there and coming back to the West will do any good to my career interest, in that Calgary and Houston schools have much better connections in the energy industry.

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THE ANSWER:

Choosing the right school to pursue your studies is not only about the course work, it is about what kind of opportunities the program may present to you during and after your studies. The location of the school does play a factor in this equation.

There may not be an absolutely correct answer to your question, but a couple of other factors may help you make a decision.

Alumni: Where have some of the graduates gone on to in the area you are interested in? The alumni office of the school should be able to tell you who has landed roles in the energy sector. Look them up on LinkedIn or a company website and see if you can get a few minutes of their time to ask them about their experience finding a role in the energy sector. Do this for each school you are considering and you will most likely learn some valuable information.

Instructors: Find out who will be instructing your classes and whether any guest lecturers come in from the energy sector. This will give you an idea if that area of business is covered in the schools you are considering. While they will likely be covered in cities where energy is a predominate industry, it is a good idea to see if other schools do the same.

One of the most important things to remember when earning an MBA, or any degree, is that it is up to you what you do with it. The school can only go so far in exposing you to various people and companies. It is your responsibility to take that exposure and widen it out to maximize your relationships and opportunities.

Eileen Dooley is a certified coach and lead consultant for Cam McRae Consulting in Calgary.

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