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Career Questions During Your 20s: Is An MBA For Me?

3 November 2008 2 Comments

I have asked myself numerous times in the few years since I graduated college whether or not I should get an MBA. I’ve even signed up for a GMAT class and started studying for it. After I quit my job at a large Corporation and joined the family small business, I decided I probably didn’t need an MBA. Now I’m reconsidering, not because I’m planning to re-join Corporate America, but because I want the skills I can gain from the MBA.

I think there are three main approaches for an MBA. Most of you who are considering an MBA will fit into one of these, a small percentage of you may not.

Approach #1: My Employer Requires an MBA To Get To The Next Level

Some companies, definitely many financial companies, require an MBA once you get to a certain level. This can be as simple as “checking it off” as you climb the Corporate ladder. I believe that this is becoming less frequent. Many of these companies will offer tuition reimbursement for a few years of work following completion of the degree.

If you are in this situation, you should probably choose the best MBA program you can get into since you aren’t covering the tuition anyways. If you are considering an MBA online, check with your employer if they would fund the program. Get the best degree you can for yourself since you probably won’t stay at your current job forever, even if you do after getting your MBA.

Approach #2: I’m Looking To Get An MBA For A Career Change

If you are looking for a career change, an MBA can be a great way to transition to a new job. Also, if you think it will be tough being out of the work force for two years, many great programs offer a one year program. Take a one year hiatus, get your MBA, and get back in the work force (hopefully, with a higher salary to pay off your MBA costs)

If you are in this situation, then you will want to consider the “prestige” of the program. Companies definitely favor candidates coming from higher ranked schools. Some people think that you can categorize MBA programs as the Top 20 schools and then the rest of them. Likewise, some split them as the Top 50 schools and the rest. Basically, if you can’t get into one of the top 20 (or 50) programs, then choose the best bang for your buck because you’ve lost the “prestige” factor. I think this is less true as it used to be and really only depends on the industry and what companies you are applying for a job with after graduation (investment banking, management consulting might be the industries where this still applies).

Approach #3: I Want The Skill Set An MBA Represent

If you’re like me, you don’t necessarily want a career change and you don’t need an MBA to get to the next level. However, you wish you had more extensive business training and knowledge. This is me. I want more education in business, and I think I would really enjoy the course content in a good MBA program.

My plan, unless I score off the charts on the GMAT, is to probably do a local part time MBA program. Since I live in Florida, the University of Florida online or weekend program is a great fit. I do not plan to quit working and I do not want to spend much time at all away from my family. The weekend program requires one weekend a month on campus and the online program requires even less. Both MBA programs are just as credible as the traditional 2 year full-time format.

Conclusion

The case for grad school, specifically the MBA, has changed in recent years. Many companies, including my former company Accenture, placed no emphasis on an MBA. They didn’t care whether you had one or not, they didn’t pay for it, and you didn’t move up any faster with one. Your advancement was strictly based on progress and ability demonstrated within the company. They placed more emphasis on their in-house training than a Masters degree.

To combat this change, MBA programs have evolved to offer much more than they used to. I believe, regardless of your situation, that investing in yourself is never a bad idea. Who knows where I will be in 10, 20 years? Will an MBA help? Definitely more than it’ll hurt.

Do you have an MBA or plan on getting one? What program type did you go with (Full/Part Time, One/Two Year, Online, Distance, Traditional)? Do you think MBAs offer a lot in today’s economy?

2 Comments »

  • Blake said:

    I am currently workin on an MBA. I am 26 and have a BS and MS in engineering. If anything, the MS in engineering overqualifies me for a lot at my experience level, but I would not trade the technical expertise for anything. My current job as an engineer comes to me really easily and the time spent working on the MBA is a nice way to anchor me to a job for a little while. The company pays for most of it. I am doing it full time, two year, distance program through Colorado State University. So far I am impressed with the program- oragainization, administration, and content. It is very different subject matter if you come from an objective, math, science, engineering type schooling but I am actually enjoying it. I think it will pay off. It certainly can’t hurt.

  • sbf said:

    If you have the time and money, go for it! But if you’re a 20something and already have time and money, do you need it?