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To get an MBA?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Juice, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. Juice

    Juice
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    I already read the "first job or back to school" thread to see if my situation applies, but its different.

    I have been out of my undergrad for little over a year with a degree in Economics and one in Political Science. After school I took a job at a bank's corporate office doing IT work, because eventually I want to make the move into the financial sector of the company. The company will pay for me to obtain my MBA if I were to go for one (I would still have to work full time). My question is for anyone who has their MBA. Is it a good idea to go for it only a year out of undergrad or make the move first to the financial area and slowly build experience in there first?

    Thanks
     
  2. shegirl

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    I know she PMed the poster but tweetybird asked that I post this for others:

    I'm responding to your comment because I just got my MBA and hope I can provide some perspective for you. I'm not blowing smoke up your ass - I just got my MBA from a Top 20 school, and would be happy to email you personally from my school account to prove it.

    So you want to get an MBA? The most important thing to keep in mind is that the ultimate goal of an MBA is to Get A Job. This is not merely a fun academic exercise: everything about it is intended to make you a better hire when you're done. That said, there are two reasons you should undertake the giant opportunity cost of tuition and two entire years out of the work force.

    1) You want to change industries, and you're past entry level. Most of mid to upper level hiring is networking, and your network is probably entirely in your current industry. A large part of the value of an MBA is the network you'll develop during it, including your classmates, alumni, professors, MBA's at other schools, and professionals you meet at conferences. In addition, an MBA is a great way to pick up the knowledge and jargon of your target industry that would otherwise only come from starting at the bottom again: joining student clubs, taking applicable classes, and generally getting involved in that industry at your school will provide a helpful assist that will make you stand out from the pack.

    2) You want to jump a couple of levels in your current industry. Yes, the knowledge and experience you'll gain with an MBA will make you a better manager, but more often than not this is about checking the box for your company/industry so that the higher ups will feel good about promoting you. Caveat: this only works in fields that value MBA's (e.g. consulting, finance) or fields where they have no fucking clue what an MBA means but they are impressed (e.g. nonprofit). In particular, MBA's tend to have less value to startups, where it really is the size and speed of your brain that will move you, rather than how much you paid for your degree.

    Now, some caveats to keep in mind.

    Your MBA is only as valuable as the school you got it from, due to the network and fact that it is in some sense a box you check on your way up the corporate ladder. If you're not going to be able to get in to a school in the Top 50 (or a regional powerhouse that functions the same way in your city), it may not be worth your while.

    You will not get as much out of an MBA if you do not have at least a couple solid years of work experience. At a good school, a lot of your work is on real life cases, which you prepare not only with the tools you learn but also based on your previous experience. And without work context that gives you an "aha" about why something you're learning is useful, you're more likely to skim over some of the really good stuff.

    You must must must either currently be a people person or willing to become one. An MBA is about learning to be a manager. And being a manager is all about dealing with people, figuring out how they work and how you can get them to do what you want them to do without losing them. If you don't like people, management as a field is not for you. If you would rather park behind a computer and code, or hole up in a lab and play with chemicals, or operate fancy machinery, or do any of the actual work a corporation does, management is not for you - because what you will be doing is managing the people who do that stuff. And if you are not a people person, the process of getting an MBA will really piss you off because what in the management field is networking comes across to more solitary type as the most smarmy kind of ass-kissing they can imagine.

    Of course, all of the above is pretty much trumped by the main fact of this particular post: your company is paying for it. The only opportunity cost here is simply the time you will spend studying and networking, rather than the tuition cost and 2 years out of the work force it is for many MBA's. Also, the company is basically giving you a very loud and clear message that if you do this, you will move up faster and make more money. If I were you, I would give it a little more time in order to get the work experience I talked about earlier, but I would definitely do it within the next few years in order to take advantage of your company's enthusiasm and give your career an early shot in the arm.

    Let me know if you have any more questions, I've been through the whole process and have friends from various programs both full time and part time across the country, so I'm fairly well qualified to help you out!
     
  3. Ogee

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    I think the average age at most of the top schools for their MBA program is 28-30. I was just looking at some of the bigger non-ivy programs on the East Coast. So it seems like you might be a little young for an MBA. Also, grad schools are fairly packed given the economy, so the market is going to be awash in MBAs in the next two years or so. You had better either go to a great school (like in the other reply) or do something to differentiate yourself.

    Finally, read the fine print on your firms grad school tuition policy. My firm would cover the vast majority of the cost and allow me to dial down my work load, but they want 5 years post graduation, or else I owe them every red cent plus interest (prime plus five, compounded monthly). If you are thinking you can grab the MBA and then jump ship, you might be sorely mistaken.
     
  4. Beefy Phil

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    It could be worse. He could be thinking about law school.
     
  5. cynismus

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    I'm currently pursuing my MBA (part time), and I started the program about 3.5 years after I joined the workforce. The people in my program have varied experience - there are some that started straight out of undergrad, some with a few years of experience like me, and even some that have 10+ years of experience. It's fairly obvious to me that the majority of the students that seem to be successful and able to fully appreciate the material taught in our courses are those that have at least a few years of work experience under their belts.

    Furthermore, we have had summer interns in my group at work the past few years, and one of them was a current MBA student that started his program immediately after undergrad. Granted, it's just one guy, but despite being more than halfway through his program, he was not able to contribute as well as some of our other interns - one of which was an undergrad student and the other someone in between jobs.

    To answer your question, I have one of my own: is it possible for you to move to the financial area without your MBA? If so, I'd advise doing so, working there for at least a year or 2, then going to get the degree. I say this because I think whatever experience you get in the financial area would serve you better in your courses than what you do in IT. However, if you are pigeonholed in your current situation with no other option, then maybe going to school right away might not be a bad idea.
     
  6. manbehindthecurtain

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    Don't waste your own or your classmates' time by pursuing an MBA without at least 4 years of experience. It may sound harsh, but you likely haven't been through enough bullshit to understand what you need to do once you are back in school to get the most out of the experience for your own situation. Unless you are a consultant or a banker where you are just checking the box, as a potential corporate executive or entrepreneur, you will get more out of the experience by waiting.

    Happy to talk via PM, FYI I am a financial professional with 6 years of experience at a top 5 program.
     
  7. BL1Y

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    I think the biggest factor here is that your company is willing to pick up the costs. Sure, maybe you would get more out of it after getting more experience, but you might not have another opportunity to get it for free. As far as I can tell the question is do you think the value added from it outweighs the time and effort it would take to get it?