How to Build Yourself an Alternative MBA for Free

With the resources on the internet, you can recreate an MBA education for yourself. I’m currently building my own alternative MBA, and it’s already leading to a broader network, business knowledge, and career opportunities I would have never thought possible prior to starting. Here’s how you can do it for yourself.  

First, choose your classes. Coursera is an excellent option for business courses. You can audit most classes for free, you can start classes whenever you want, and you can take classes at your own pace. 

Here are some great starting points. Wharton offers a Business Foundations Specialization. This specialization is 6 courses that are fundamental to a business education. Take classes from Corporate Finance to Marketing to Operations taught by top Wharton Professors. 

Supplement your technical business knowledge with leadership and soft skills essential to any MBA. Consider Northwestern’s Organizational Management specialization. Take 6 courses on Leadership taught by top Professors from Kellogg School of Management.

Stuck on the best classes to take? Check out the curriculum of top business schools online to guide your studies. Here are links to Chicago Booth, Wharton, or Stanford.

Second, launch a personal website that you will use to create a portfolio of the classes you are taking. This is important because an MBA isn’t just about taking classes – you have to build a network. A website is key to this (more on that later).

To get started on your website, go to Wix.com and follow the steps to create a personalized website. If you’re willing to pay about $150 and look more professional, buy your name as the domain, host your website, and stand out among your peers (however, you can start working without paying anything!). Wix has templates and a great website building tool called ADI. No coding knowledge required. You can be up and running in an hour.

 

Next, start creating high quality content on your website. This is critical. You have to show potential employers that you have taken these classes. 

Prove that you’ve taken the classes by publishing high quality evidence (essays, summaries, models, etc.) of your studies on your website. Rather than submitting your work to a professor, publish your work onto the great marketplace of ideas – the internet. 

Use the courses you’re taking to guide your content creation. Many of the Coursera classes have projects already outlined for you. Write an essay about the class you’re taking and how it relates to an industry you’re interested in. If you’re really looking to stand out, create content related to a position you’re interested in. Here’s an example of a cold email Toby from the MorningBrew used with content already created. 

Ensure you’re expressing your interests. What industries are you interested in? What types of positions are you interested in? For example, here’s a strategic analysis I did of higher education: The Higher Education Bubble: Can it Burst?. This establishes a base for the most important part of building your MBA – networking. 

Use your website and your demonstrated ambition as a tool for networking. Send cold emails asking for informational interviews with people in your industry or career path of interest. Link your website with an essay you wrote about their industry from a class you took. Reconnect with people already in your network.

Most people won’t respond. People are busy. But, some are willing to have a quick call and you never know what will start a great relationship. In my experience, people are impressed that you took the initiative.

In summary, 

  1. Take business classes online from top MBA programs

  2. Create evidence of your learning on a personal website

  3. Use the website as a tool to build your network

This approach isn’t for everyone. It takes long term consistency and the belief that you can pave your own way without a diploma. 

At MyMBA, an alternative MBA program at a fraction of the cost, we bring together cohorts of people to complete this process together. In addition, we talk to industry leaders every other week to hear perspectives from different sectors and professions. The community, accountability, and structure supports building an MBA for yourself.

If you’re considering business school but can’t justify the cost, consider MyMBA. If you’re interested in learning more, enter your information on our website makemymba.com or send me an email at grant@makemymba.com

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