I have to be honest, networking was one of my major concerns when deciding to do the part-time vs. full-time MBA program. To me, a lot of the value of completing your MBA, in addition to the coursework, is the relationships you build during the program. The part-time program doesn’t have cohorts like many full-time programs do, but I was still able to get the networking opportunities I wanted during my part-time MBA program, perhaps more than I would have if I was in a full-time program. Here is how I did it:
Most full-time MBA programs have 40-60 students in each cohort. I could be wrong, but this is what I imagined it to be. Realizing the part-time program did not use cohorts, I tried to make the same amount of connections I would have if I were in a full-time program. To do this, I put together a list of courses I would take each semester before I even started classes. I had a full schedule for my entire part-time MBA program outlined before I even had my first class.
I realized that I would be taking roughly 20 classes, but this is where I discovered my potential networking opportunity. If I could genuinely connect with 3 people in each class, just 3, then I would have my “cohort” by the time I graduated. It turns out that this was much easier than I thought it would be. Most classes have group work, and the groups you work with alone throughout your MBA can help you meet more people than you would have in a cohort in a full-time program.
That being said, you also have to make the effort to genuinely get to know these people you meet in your classes. The part-time program can make it difficult to do this because most students are working during the day, have families at home, and obligations to friends and loved ones. My advice: Embrace the struggle. Talk with your classmates about how busy you are. Find out what they make time for, what they are going to do when they don’t have to study, where they are going to go on spring break, and who they are outside of the classroom.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the networking opportunities the Carlson part-time program has provided. To take full advantage of it, you have to realize that the responsibility is on your shoulders. You have to be the one to put in the effort and be willing to work with classmates you haven’t met before. You also have to be sure to maintain those relationships after that class has ended. If you’re willing to do this, you can expand your networking opportunities much further than a cohort could provide in a full-time program.