How do I Plan for a Career in Management?

business manager

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Career advancement is one of the main goals for those who participate in Online Master’s of Business Administration Programs. Earning an Online MBA is a great step towards a successful career in management. Online MBAs prepare students for the academic aspects of top management positions but also integrate communication, leadership, and networking experiences. And while education is a important tool to have in your toolbox, it isn’t the only one to help you on your path to management. Here are a few tangible things to help you plan for a career in management. 


Take The Time To Write Down Your Goals

Writing down goals is the first and potentially most important step to plan for a career in management. Considering things such as pay, demand for your ideal field, and overall job security is a prudent step in the process. However, it is also critical to consider your personal goals, interests, and strengths. For instance, the field of accounting offers many growth opportunities, but if you are a person who despises math, account management may not be an ideal path for you. Once you have thought through both sides of the equation, you can create SMART goals. SMART goals help you create a plan that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

  • Specific-meaning that this is a very clear and specific goal
  • Measurable-how will you know if you have succeeded?
  • Attainable-ideally, this goal should have over a 50% chance of success.
  • Relevant-is this goal meaningful to you?
  • Time Bound-what is the specific time frame you plan to accomplish your goal in?

An example of a SMART goal might look like, “I will graduate my Online MBA program with a 3.75 GPA within the next two years.” If you’d like help creating and tracking SMART goals, Smartsheet is a unique resource designed specifically for this purpose. 

Choose Your Online MBA Wisely

If you are interested in finding more on this subject, look at How To Choose An Online MBA. In the meantime, you’ll want to make sure that your Online MBA is accredited and recognized by credible sources like the U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Benefits of Master’s of Business Administration programs that are often overlooked are networking opportunities, internship opportunities, career service centers, and alumni associations. These are sometimes considered add ons to the curriculum, but they can be the key to making connections for top management positions.

Specializations are another aspect of Online MBAs that can be strategically leveraged. There can be many specialization options depending on the program. Ensuring that your area of focus aligns with the industry you plan to manage is essential. A few common areas of specialization include accounting, healthcare management, cybersecurity, information technology, human resources, innovation management, and entrepreneurship. 

Be Strategic With Your Resume And Work Experience

Education is important and has many benefits, but many top management positions also require years of professional experience. Be sure to maintain a current resume complete with any awards or notable achievements. You will also want to think about things such as the industry that you want to manage. For example, if your ultimate goal is to be a healthcare manager, starting at an entry-level position within the healthcare field is a great way to get your foot in the door and acquire some understanding of the ins and outs of this field. On that same note, you will want to work hard, be punctual, and apply for promotions so that you will have evidence of improvement and excellent reference letters. 

Commit To Improving Relevant Skills

Think about your dream job in management. Read job postings for this type of position and notice common skill sets or requirements. If you are not particularly tech-savvy, but a common requirement is having knowledge of certain software, this would be a great place to invest time and energy. Platforms such as edX or Coursera have free courses that are specific to a variety of subjects such as human resources, communications, business foundations, accounting, and more. Overall, take inventory of your desired positions and the skills you have and begin working to fill the gaps. 

Get Up To Date With Podcasts

listen to podcasts

Podcasts are another free option that can significantly improve personal and professional development. Here are a few podcasts that offer insight and encouragement for those in management positions at any level.

Management 3.0, Happiness at Work

The Management 3.0, Happiness at Work podcast examines how industry leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs create positive environments within their workplaces. Each week listeners will hear a new story about leaders who are striving for happiness both personally and professionally.

Engaging Leader

Engaging Leader offers relevant advice to managers of companies big and small. With over 220 episodes, there are many topics to choose from, such as dealing with challenging employees, building a courageous culture, supporting employee mental health during the pandemic, and engaging generations. 

Business Daily

The Business Daily podcast helps business leaders in all industries stay on top of the latest news. Trending topics are discussed and include everything from trends in technology to smart investing. Topics are both current and globally relevant. Episodes generally last around 20 minutes, making it an easy listen during commutes or lunch breaks. 

Action Plans

The initial step in planning a successful career in management is taking an inventory of your skills, interests, and career goals. Next, creating SMART goals will help you find an Online MBA that will help you achieve your dreams. You will want to consider added benefits such as alumni networks and internship opportunities before committing to a program.

Choose your industry wisely and plan to have a minimum of two to three years of professional work experience on your resume. If you leave a position for a promotion or job that better fits your goals, be sure to request a letter of recommendation that you can keep in your files. This will come in handy when applying for management positions and Online MBA programs.

Lastly, don’t forget to look for gaps in your skillset and start taking steps towards improvement. These changes don’t have to be draining to your time or mental energy. Something as simple as listening to one of the podcasts mentioned every morning during your drive to work can make a big impact on your knowledge and confidence. And if you are feeling overwhelmed about finding balance while going to business school, we’ve got you covered!

Related Resources:

Top Online Healthcare MBA Programs
How Can I take Free Online MBA Courses?
Top Online MBA Programs

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