Six Essential Steps to Choosing a Media MBA

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Selecting a school for a media MBA presents some challenges that students of other MBA specializations don’t face.

Let’s say you want to apply for an MBA in finance, so you start researching schools. Easy – there are plenty of sites offering rankings of finance MBA courses… here is one, and here is another. There are also dozens of web forums where you can interact with students who are studying or have completed a finance MBA. You can ask them directly about their experiences and their college recommendations.

What what about a media MBA?

Yep, this is tougher. Both in India and around the world, media MBAs are a fairly new phenomena. There aren’t enough schools to create a meaningful ranking system and the courses haven’t been around long enough to generate lots of placement data.

In summary – you have to create your own ranking system for media MBA schools! Fear not – we offer you a simple, six-step process to research and rank your potential colleges.

1. Understand Your Career Goals

Media is an incredibly broad field. Film, TV, advertising, journalism, radio, music, events, PR, new media. The list goes on…..

If you have already decided that there is a specific area of media on which you want to focus, then this becomes a criteria for evaluating the curriculum of each school. How many subjects fall into your desired field, and how much importance is given to these subjects? Make sure that you get the complete subject list, with credit hours and a description of each subject.

Find out when the curriculum was last updated and the procedure for making changes. The industry changes fast, and a curriculum that has been fixed in stone for years risks becoming obsolete.

2. Meet the faculty

The faculty are the single most important factor in determining the quality of education.

Meet the faculty and get their perspective on the course. Tell them your career goals and see if they think that the course is right for you. Ask about their backgrounds – where did they study? Where have they worked? And most importantly – why do they choose to teach at this school?

Top MBA colleges will allow you to attend a class, so that you can see how the subjects are taught. Assess for yourself how interactive the teaching is. Is it a traditional (boring) lecture or does the school use modern, interactive teaching methods?

3. Speak To The staff

Meeting the school management is also important.

The student services head can fill you in on events at the school and how the school helps students who are struggling, either personally or academically – are there counseling facilities, for example?

The admissions head can talk about the school’s approach to selecting students and the operations head can tell you about security and safety on campus.

Schools change and develop over time. Does the management’s plan for the school for the next few years match your expectations for how a school should operate?

4. Discover Each School’s Unique Structure

Now it is time to consider how your course fits in to the school as a whole.

Firstly – how many students are in your course and how many students are in the school. There is no right or wrong here, it all comes down to personal preference.

A smaller school is more intimate. The faculty will know you on a personal level and it is easy to make friends with many different students. Your relationships with other students are stronger as you keep working on projects with the same people though out the course. Placements can also be customized to your preferences as there are fewer students to place. The downside (depending on your attitude) is that you will be held more accountable by faculty – in small classrooms there is nowhere to hide if you didn’t complete your readings or haven’t finished your assignment on time 🙂

A larger school can be more prestigious. Thousands of students = thousands of alumni and more word of mouth. There is a higher chance that your friends and family will know about the school. There is often more student life on campus as well, such as bigger festivals and more student clubs. Larger schools will often have more resources, like cafeterias, games rooms or sports grounds. The downside is anonymity. The faculty and management never get to know you personally and placement time sees huge numbers of students competing for a small number of jobs.

Secondly – what other courses does the school teach? Media MBA courses normally fit into one of two schools. Either a film school that also offers an MBA or an business school that also offers a specialization in media. In a film school, you become the ‘business’ person, surrounded by creative artists. In the MBA school, you become the creative one, surrounded by finance and HR types. Film schools will give you the chance to work on media production projects. Business schools will offer more traditional management events and competitions.

Which option sounds more exciting to you?

5. Evaluate Hands-on Production Opportunities

Media is all about production. You create things – a film, a TV show, a radio show, an animation, an event. The more practical your course – the more you actually get to make things – the better prepared for the industry you are. The projects will also give you a showreel.

Screening a short film to a potential employer and describing in detail your role as a Unit Production Manager will put you way ahead of students with only mark sheets and certificates to show.

In particular, look for schools that offer production experiences with schools in other countries. Media is an increasingly global industry and the contacts that you gain from exchange programs will make you more valuable to future employers.

6. Review The Placement Partners

Last but not least – with which companies does the school have placement relationships?

Employment in the media industry is driven by personal contacts. Few positions are publicly advertised, especially at entry level. HR managers work directly with selected schools and recruiters to source their next wave of talent. Think of the companies you would like to join and then check which schools have placement tie-ups.

Your Turn!

Shortlist the schools that you like and then follow the six step plan to create your own ranking format, giving preference to the parameters that are more important to you. Your ‘gut feel’ is also a real factor. You are going to spend two years at the campus, do you like the feel of the surroundings? Can you picture yourself studying at the school?

Once you have ranked the schools, it is time to start applying!

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