Hands-On Learning through MBA Electives

Hands-On Learning through MBA Electives
MBA students choose unique electives to help with other skills such as leadership.

What are your plans for your business career? The answer to that may give you the right choices for electives while earning your MBA degree. Many MBA students are quite satisfied once finishing the core requirement classes for the degree, thus moving on to electives, because it gives them a chance to explore other topics and even learn more for their future career goals. Some electives even have the ability to give more hands-on experience. In a recent article by Businessweek, new MBA elective choices were chosen as a means for students to get more experience and explore creative options, from health care to humanitarian relief.

"Electives are a venue for experimentation," said Benn Konsynski, a professor of information systems and operations management at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. The professor also spoke on how electives can be anything, whatever professors and students feel will give them more information or give them a creative experience.

Professors at top business schools agree that electives are an opportunity to allow business students to go beyond the numbers, even grow professionally and personally, or develop new philosophies. There are also ways that electives create an opportunity for something out of the ordinary and unexpected. Students often get involved in projects that they never thought possible, and are able to use the experience in relationship to their business career goals. There are many electives offered at top business schools, and they are designed to make the world a better place rather than focus on capitalism.

Top MBA programs often focus on leadership. Today's top business schools also take a different approach to forming leadership in their students. For example, the Leadership Out of the Box elective is offered at Dartmouth, and allows students to study Disney's The Lion King, writing letters as an 8-year-old adult to their adult selves to connect hopes and dreams from then to now, considering the journey of success and pivotal figures of world leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr or Rachel Carlson.

Class competition is also incredibly motivational to business students. Television show The Apprentice has offered challenges for students in courses where competition presents itself, allowing students to come up with marketing plans, such as how to sell a new food item at a school cafeteria and what to market for the food item to be a success. Students also focus on building the strengths in their team, acknowledging weaknesses and overcoming obstacles. There are a few challenges like this at business schools, including the customized Outward Bound experience which highlights leadership in the wild.

Columbia Business School students have an elective titled NYC: Innovative and Entrepreneurial Solutions to the City's Complex Challenges. In this class, teams spent the fall of last year in teams working closely with senior executives in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office to offer recommendations for solving some of the city's worst problems. They created solutions or education and economic development. The aim was to help the city implement changes and lower costs, as well as offer a better quality of life.