September 17, 2013, 11:46 AM — An MBA is a huge commitment and not everyone has the time or money to pursue it.
If you fall into that category, U.S. News & World Report's Ben Weiss says there are ways to still earn and benefit from MBA-like experiences without the price tag or time commitment.
Do research, get skills
Find an MBA candidate or faculty member and pump them for information on important related skill sets. Then, determine how you can obtain real-world experience in those areas in your current job.
Weiss points to the key MBA subject of advanced financial literacy.
"Depending on your industry, you could sharpen financial understanding by volunteering to work on new subscription models, test new online revenue streams or even do simple data entry for your firm's financial leaders who may reward hard work by becoming a mentor and bringing you on to more high-level projects," he notes.
These days, who's going to turn down the opportunity for extra - and free - help?
If opportunities for skill-building aren’t available in your organization, look outside to nonprofits.
"For example, imagine you become a volunteer coordinator for a Big Brother program. Now you have the opportunity to prove you can structure a department, lower attrition rates for both adult and youth participants, earn the program publicity in a national news source and any number of other accomplishments that require hands-on experience," Weiss says.
Grow a business
Start your own business, no matter how small. As Weiss notes: "There is likely no better way to illustrate managerial, leadership and business operations credentials than jumping in the fire and starting your own business."