Before asking yourself if an MBA is worth it, ask yourself what you want to achieve.
“I mean I know I’ll likely double my salary (or even quadruple it if I’m coming from abroad), but will an MBA really develop my skills and career over the long-term?”
The decision to pursue an MBA degree is nothing if not a long-term decision. Sure, you will make more money, which is certainly of great appeal. But it’s not the only way to make more money, and going through B-school can provide you with so much more than just a higher salary. And we’re not just talking about that sweet signing bonus either!
1) You’ll Have The Freedom To Change Careers, Functions, Industries, Etc.
More than anything else, an MBA is two years off of work and life, and a true opportunity for you to consider and to explore other options. If you hadn’t applied, you’d probably be doing exactly the same thing now as you were doing then, and then the same thing for the next five, ten, fifteen years…. Even if your salary is going up, you may be doing the same thing for a looooooong time.
So for many candidates the MBA is a great chance to sit back and have a thought about what they really want. And since the MBA is a generalist program and you will have people from every imaginable function, industry and country in your class (as opposed to say an MIS, or a Masters in Finance or Accounting), you have the opportunity to discover a wealth of various other options, to hear and learn from your peers and classmates about the other options out there.
But it’s not just hearing. It’s acting too. Every two-year MBA has an internship in the summer between year one and year two, and that’s the chance for you to land a sweet internship in an industry of your choice and actually try it out. That’s not the only opportunity of course. Between the consulting projects, the entrepreneurial competitions, the finance and marketing clubs and the myriad of other academic or social activities, most MBAs will provide a wealth of opportunities to actually hands-on test the various functions and industries anyone could be interested. So make use of it all and explore the possibilities.
2) You’ll Be Investing In The Long-Term Development Of You
Even if you decide you want to stay in the same function and the same industry, when you come back from that MBA you are going to get that level-boost that in some firms is just so hard to come by. And here is where your investment in B-School really starts to pay off. It’s a bit of a snowball effect – you come back from your MBA prepared to LEAD. You are given more responsibilities and opportunity to do so (As well as a nice career boost) and these opportunities generate other opportunities.
And this is a BIG reason why many people go to do their MBA – because they want to be on the leadership fast-track – they want to become managing partners, VPs, if not CXOs. And the MBA is kind of the switch that turns on those turbo-boosters.
3) Your Network Will Become Amazingly Large And Poweful
Another HUGE and much-touted advantage of going to a great MBA program is of course the amazing network of equally brilliant and talented people who you will meet all along your MBA voyage. That’s why it is so critical to go to a program with smart kids, good networking opportunities, and good contacts. Academically speaking, most MBA programs, even those ranked 152nd are pretty good, but it’s the networking (and thus career) opportunities where the bigger and better-ranked schools really stand out. Nothing would be more of a waste than to spend $50K per year on a low-tier program, after which you have neither great contacts, or a better job. But at a great program you will be satisfied. No matter what field you want to go into, your network will be worth its weight in gold.
Here’s an example: I wanted to go into real estate after I graduated from business school. Harvard has no true Real Estate program to speak of, but that didn’t matter. It’s Harvard. No matter WHAT I wanted to do, having Harvard on my resume would get me any job I wanted. So I went there anyway. While there, I met finance guys (they can finance my deals), I met bankers (they can finance my deals), I met consultants (they can help me run my other businesses) and I met cool musicians/people (they will make my life happy and well-rounded).
So your B-school network is amazingly valuable, and finding that network you want to tap into is one of the main offerings of great B-school programs.
4) You’ll Gain An Unbelievable Amount Of Credibility
At Admissionado, our expert MBA admissions consultants always advise our clients to “simply go to the best school they can get into.” Why do we systematically do this? The answer is simple: Credibility.
If you can go to a GREAT school (Top 10 for us Westerners, or Magic 7 in Asia), the main thing you will get out of your MBA is credibility. It sounds all vague and amorphous. And really how do you measure credibility? Yet, nonetheless this is one of the most valuable takeaways of B-school. From your MBA experience you can actually go into ANY field. Sure you have to do some work to make it happen, but it’s the MBA degree that gives you a foundation to build from.
When HR folks look at two similarly qualified candidates, and one went to a great MBA program, and the other didn’t they are going to pick the MBA grad. Why? Credibility. It’s more than just the prestige of the brand name, but because an intense amount of vetting went into HIS OWN MBA application selection process. And this candidate has already been approved and validated as smart, ambitious, creative.
And the better program you go to, the more credibility you will have.
5)You’ll Learn Invaluable Skills and Knowledge
Notice we didn’t talk about these yet? Well, an MBA is still more than a credibility and network machine. It is principally still graduate school. And yes you will learn tons of new stuff. Now, every MBA focuses (of course) on leadership, and the core financial and business skills. Yet beyond that, MBAs can often be so tailored that outside the core classes everyone has a totally different experience at the same school. And this is one of the fantastic things about a general management program rich in offerings – YOU can decide what you want to learn be it digital marketing, financial analytics, health care management, real estate financing, biotech, startup investment, or potato-farming. Yes, that’s right. Even potato-farming.
So between the salary boost, the career development, the opportunities for change, the increased credibility, the new knowledge and the fantastic network, an MBA really seems worth it, doesn’t it?