The Tuesday Q&A: Should I Get an MBA or a Different Master’s Degree?

QUESTION:

I’m 21-years old and will be graduating from college in 2013 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I know that one day I want to be a high-level manager in technology field, so I’ve started thinking about getting an MBA. Should I apply to business school, or should I apply to a different Master’s program?

ANSWER:

Ah, to be 21 again. Those were the days, am I right?

But let’s get to your question, man. So, you wanna be a manager one day, eh? Sounds like a good plan. And I think an MBA is a great idea for ya… just not yet. Typically, MBA programs like people with work experience. 4-5 years, is usually a good range. So if you want to increase your chances of getting in, you’re going to want to get out into the workforce for awhile and get some work (and, more importantly, leadership), experience.

Now, there are some programs out there that cater to younger applicants that you may want to look into. For example, HBS 2+2 and Yale Silver Scholars. But if you’re looking to apply for 2013, you’ve got your work cut out for ya. Those deadlines are gonna start hitting in September and October, which means you’re going to have to take the GMAT….erm… now. And CRUSH it. And once that’s done, there’s the actual applications to think about. And those come with their own laundry list of materials and requirements.

Not to mention, those programs are hiiiighly competitive. I don’t know much about ya so I am not saying you can’t compete – it’s just not going to be easy.

As for getting another Master’s first… do you think you need it? Or do you think you can get out there with your current degree and start working? If you ultimately want to go get your MBA one day (and one day soon), I wouldn’t recommend going back to school just yet. Work experience is going to be much more appealing (and important!) on an MBA application, so get out there and get some of that.

Look, you’re young. You’ve got a LOT of time ahead of you. Why rush into an MBA? Why not enjoy your last year of college (trust me, life is never gonna be that free again!), get out into the real world and get some experience under your belt and THEN apply? It won’t keep you from your goal of managing a tech team one day, and it will only help your chances of getting into a stellar MBA program down the road.

Hope that helps. Let us know what you decide!

— Jon Frank

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