8 lessons from the Gabelli School’s Professional MBA experience

Not sure which MBA format is right for you? Jessica Burbach’s Professional MBA experience at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business is a great insight into working while studying. If you need an insider’s perspective on studying FinTech, information systems, accounting, and more while you work, read on.

In short

1. Choose your business school wisely

Jessica’s Professional MBA experience began before she even walked through the door in New York. Through careful research spanning elements such as location, curriculum, schedule, and more, Jessica already made a connection with her school.

Jessica tells us, “For me, Fordham was a great intersection of all the things I was looking for: a great brand name school, a great network for alumni and for students, and then also a great price.” (01:35) Therefore, one of the best lessons is to look at schools as a whole, rather than focusing on one element.

2. Broaden your horizons in the classroom

One of the aims of all MBAs is to create leaders with a broad knowledge of all aspects of business. Every student is working while studying, meaning they bring their own expertise to the classroom. However, one of the top lessons to take away is that there are many more areas to dive into.

Speaking on her Professional MBA experience, Jessica tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS, “You are learning about different parts of business and so that really makes you a more well-rounded person.” (02:49) Upon graduation, a professional working knowledge of finances, marketing, blockchain, and corporate compliance puts you in a much stronger position as a leader.

3. Get out of your comfort zone

MBA courses aren’t renowned for being a walk in the park, and part of the Professional MBA experience is pushing your limits. No MBA student arrives with a full understanding of every area, and your professional background determines where your difficulties lie.

For Jessica, who has a background in marketing, her main challenge was in the accounting and statistics classes. “Those are also challenging because it brings me in contact with data and numbers and different concepts that I don’t normally come to contact [with],” she says. (02:31)

4. Apply what you learn in your career

Even more than standard MBAs, the Professional MBA at the Gabelli School of Business is focused on real-life application. By working while studying, students can immediately contextualize what they learn.

As Jessica explains, “I chose to go back part-time so I can continue to work and also apply what I’m learning in the classroom to what I’m doing at work.” (03:32) As you learn, think about how you can transfer it into your career. This mindset maximizes your engagement and drives your career forward – what’s not to love?

5. Learn time management skills to balance work and studies

With such a hectic schedule compared to full-time students, you can’t dive into the program without a solid plan. Jessica advises, “The key to success in a Professional MBA is really time management. You really have to be good at blocking out your time so you know you’re going to be working these days.” (04:03)

Even for full-time MBA candidates, time management is one of the biggest extra benefits of studying postgraduate courses. Speaking from her Professional MBA experience, Jessica assures us that you will still have time for friends, family, and hobbies. Focus on making small adjustments and prioritizing what is most important to you. 

6. Get involved: Joining the student government

Outside the classroom, MBA programs offer a wealth of opportunities to make new connections and learn new skills. Whether it’s events organization, mentoring, or joining a focus group, getting involved is an enriching professional step.

Jessica says, “I’m now in student government and it’s a great opportunity for me to give back as a student to the school that’s given me so much.” (02:01) Groups and activities like student government are great for gaining supplementary skills and contacts that serve students well in their careers.

7. Grab networking opportunities with both hands

Another of the out-of-classroom lessons you learn is the art of networking. If you already have experience in business, you’ll know how important it is to refine your craft. Nowhere is this more important than in an MBA program. By joining your cohort, you’re thrust into a ready-made group of experienced and motivated minds from all kinds of backgrounds.

Jessica reflects, “I think the benefit of a part-time MBA is that all of your colleagues in your cohort, they’ve all been working for several years, so they have experience in the industries that you may want to work in. So, I think networking with this group of individuals is very, very valuable.” (04:34)

8. Jessica’s advice for prospective students

Realizing that a Professional MBA experience is not just about learning hard skills in the classroom, Jessica encourages new students to get involved in as many initiatives as possible.

She urges students, “Take advantage of the career center, take advantage of your advisor, meet your professors, get involved in school clubs, get involved with student government. Do everything that you possibly can to make your experience the best that you can, because the more you put in the more you’ll get out.” (06:58)

Through MBAGRADSCHOOL’s Ambassador’s Page, you can contact Gabelli graduates directly and get all your questions answered.

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