I graduated from business school with my MBA a couple years ago, and over the years I’ve received quite a few questions about:
a) Whether or not I would recommend an MBA,
b) If I think it was worth it, and
c) Any other advice I might have.
I hesitated to write this post because I wasn’t sure if there was enough interest and also because I am far, far from an expert on this topic. An MBA like any graduate degree is highly personal and so dependent on so many factors – from your career goals, to your personality, to the school you go to and the economy at the time. However, I seem to be getting more and more emails about this topic (maybe because application season just ended?) and so have attempted to share some of my thoughts here today.
Would I recommend an MBA?
The answer from my experience is a definite yes. I loved my time in business school and it was two of some of the most fun, interesting years of my life. One of the best descriptions I ever heard was from a classmate and good friend of mine who said that two years at HBS was “a present to herself.” I totally agree. It’s one of the last times that you can take years off from your career to learn, experiment, have fun, travel, and actually have it be seen as a benefit on your resume. I learned so much while there and it also gave me a chance to live somewhere new, the beautiful city of Boston.
If an MBA makes sense to you given your personal financial landscape, career goals, and other considerations, I’d whole heartedly recommend it.
Was an MBA worth it to me?
From a financial perspective, my degree was worth it. I don’t see a problem with earning back the tuition/foregone income over the years and I definitely saw a bump in my salary after school compared with before.
From a career perspective, the best advice I’ve heard about a value of an MBA is that the biggest value you will get from it and your network won’t be in your first job – but rather your second, third, fourth, etc. In my experience, that’s held pretty true.
Finally, I would say that my MBA was worth it to me for a few other reasons. I met some great friends, that I now consider very close ones. You haven’t known your classmates for very long, but you’re all meeting each other while you’re a very similar times in your lives, with similar interests. I met people from all over the world and the friendships I made I consider invaluable. I also learned a ton and got the chance to travel a lot more than when I was working.
Any other advice to offer?
Almost every question I receive about MBAs also mentions school ranking/reputation and how that may factor into the degree’s value. I would be lying if I said my advice would be to just “go with your heart” and not factor in a school’s reputation when making your decision. From what I’ve seen over the last few years, it seems that the MBA degree is heading down a similar path to the JD – a lot of graduates on the market, and a very competitive employment landscape . A school with a well known name is always going to be useful in protecting yourself against that – and can be especially valuable in international markets.
However, it isn’t as simplistic as just going for the brand name (of course)! I know plenty of people who could have gone to very famous, very expensive schools, but chose to go to other institutions for a variety of reasons (geography, cost, scholarship money, part time paid for by their company, etc). As long as you are reasonable, and understand clearly the benefit a school is providing you versus it’s cost, and are fine with the tradeoff, an MBA from a lesser known school can be the ideal decision.
Enough of my prattling now! I know that there are many readers (MBA and no MBA) who have great opinions, input, and are overall way more qualified than me to speak on this topic. So I’d love to hear from you all, whether or not you have an MBA – is the degree worth it? I’d love for the comments area of this post to eventually serve as the real resource for readers with questions.