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“What I Wish I Knew Before Starting an MBA”

by Mariel Cano, Office of Academic Programs and Student Experience

Embarking on an MBA journey is exhilarating and transformative. But it can also be daunting. Luckily, Rice Business students adapt quickly and are always generous with their hard-earned wisdom. Below, seven of our students across various programs share what they wish they’d known before taking the plunge.

Nikki Suarez, Professional MBA

Your differences are an asset. Lean into what makes you unique

“It might seem like MBA programs are dominated by those with a strong quantitative background. But diversity in skills and perspectives enriches learning for everyone. Recognize and lean into your unique strengths; they are invaluable to your cohort’s collective learning experience. When you feel imposter syndrome creeping in, just remember that you were selected for the program because you bring a desired skill set.”

Jasper Knighten, Professional MBA

The relationships you build will be invaluable. Prioritize genuine connections.

“The community at Rice is unparalleled. You’re about to enter an environment teeming with talent, energy and inspiration. The people you meet here will shape your experience and impact your life in unimaginable ways. Take the time to forge genuine connections, to learn from and with your classmates. Embrace diverse perspectives and contribute to expanding others’ worldviews. Remember, it’s not just about what you learn but also about the respect and dignity you extend to others.”

Dana Vazquez, Full-Time MBA

Push yourself outside your comfort zone. That’s where transformative growth happens.

“When I came to Rice, I was pretty set on what I wanted to do within the program – I didn’t consider any other career paths outside of sustainability and felt compelled to stay on that track. Pretty quickly, I became pulled into the entrepreneurship environment and have since started two companies, competed in several pitch competitions, am on the executive team for the Entrepreneurship Association, have led an entrepreneurship-focused conference... the list goes on. I have loved being a part of the entrepreneurship community at Rice, and I never would’ve never expected it! You never know what topics will speak to you.”

Ken Malik, Executive MBA

Be prepared for an intense pace. But know it is manageable.

“The first few weeks will feel like drinking from a fire hydrant. Time is your best friend. Do not try to do everything yourself, but rather rely on your team. Share the workload for projects and then teach each other. If you do the work and show up to class, you will learn! Do not worry about the grade. Executive boards care more about how changes in economic climates impact their businesses, versus what grade you received in economics class.”

Interested in Rice Business?

Chris Stillwell, Full-Time MBA

Start recruiting early. The process will boost your skills and profile.

“I wasn’t aware of all the opportunities there are for people to recruit for consulting, investment banking and other opportunities for those who qualify under the company’s diversity or early recruiting programs. Even if I didn’t land an early offer, it would have been good experience to interview and get familiar with companies early on.”

Ana Santos, Executive MBA

You will learn both inside and outside the classroom.

“Use the MBA as a sandbox to allow yourself to think differently — not only on campus but in every part of your life. Make yourself uncomfortable. Practice sharing your story in new situations. Speak up and ask the questions you always wanted answered. Explore that area you’ve always been curious about. Put what you learn into practice from day 1. This time is yours. Make the most of it!”

Jessica Chavez, Professional MBA

Remember: The MBA is about more than academics.

“It’s crucial to reevaluate the emphasis on grades. While academic achievement matters, the true essence lies in honing practical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving aptitude. It’s also ultimately about cultivating a robust network and lifelong friendships. The cohort experience fosters camaraderie, collaboration and a sense of community that extends far beyond the classroom. These friendships enrich the MBA experience and serve as a valuable support network throughout your career journey. Networking isn’t just about collecting business cards; it’s about creating connections that propel you forward — in all kinds of ways.”

The MBA experience can be intense, but the Office of Academic Programs and Student Experience (APSE) provides comprehensive support.

From the beginning, our dedicated team will help you build an invaluable network, develop practical skills and emerge as a well-rounded leader ready for continued growth. You belong here.

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The Long-Term Value of the MBA

Rice Business is committed to helping you accelerate your career at any stage and supporting your professional growth long after graduation. The earnings potential shows investing in an MBA is well worth it.