My career is plateauing. It’s time for an MBA … said every Desi ever!
If you’re a Desi man or woman of a certain age, and you’re not already in med school or law school (ya dirty, dirty overachievers!), an MBA is often the default option. But how do you determine whether it’s actually right for you or not? Here are some of the most common reasons people choose to go the MBA route and the pros and cons of each.
If you’ve been in a STEM career for a few years and want to get into the management track at your company, an MBA is a great option. For people who come from technical backgrounds, an MBA exposes you to all aspects of business (marketing, finance, organizational behavior), including the importance of soft skills. You’re also forced to network — something I wish more undergrad degrees, technical or not, emphasized.
But, it comes at a cost …
If you’re already killing it in your profession, the opportunity cost of walking away might be too great. Also, if you’re expecting your MBA to be a second shot at getting that 4.0 GPA, let me stop you right there. Good grades are great but shouldn’t be your sole focus in B-school. An MBA is training you to be a professional. It’s less about the coursework and more about developing yourself for a leadership role. Get out there and build relationships with your peers, professors, potential employers. Make sure to network like a bawse, join a few clubs, get active, and get that killer internship.
Some of us goofed off in our undergrads (exhibit A right here). For me, an MBA meant a second chance and the ability to climb up the corporate ladder faster. For others, it’s a way to transition to an entirely new career. It’s also an option for those who face some sort of set back — maybe you got laid off or let go from your previous job. In such cases, an MBA may increase your likelihood of getting back into the workforce. It also gives you way more options (marketing, finance, supply chain, consulting, HR, etc).
Here’s the downside — the MBA is expensive! Take all the costs into consideration to evaluate whether you’re really getting a good ROI. Tuition costs alone can be anywhere between $40K – $150K. Then there’s also application costs, GMAT cost, especially if you’re taking it multiple times. There’s also the opportunity cost because an MBA is also a huge time commitment, both before and during.
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For international students, an MBA can increase the likelihood of getting an H1B visa. Also, if you’re on a dependent visa and can’t work, it may be a way for you to get into the workforce.
Don’t take it for granted, though, especially under the current administration. Getting a work visa in the US continues to get harder and harder (unless your name is Melania Trump). An MBA is not a guaranteed solution. If you are an international student, you have to work extra hard to get that internship and build the right connections through school. You may also be paying higher tuition at public institutions.
MONEY MONEY MONEY MOONNNEYYY
Let’s face it — most people go for an MBA to bump up their salary. I literally doubled mine after. (Let’s ignore the fact that I wasn’t making very much money before). But there are few things to take into consideration:
The school itself: brand name schools obviously provide way better ROI than non-brand name because of better name recognition, networks, recruitment opportunities, etc.
The program: full-time vs part-time programs. Full-time programs typically get more attention, resources, recruitment opportunities.
What you make of it: At the end of the day, you get what you put in. If you maximize the crap out of your MBA by building a great network, getting the right internships, being active, you’re looking at a much bigger payoff than if you just focus on that 4.0 GPA.
All in all, there are lots of valid reasons to consider an MBA. But know what you’re getting into and what your expectations are. Like anything else, be deliberate rather than taking it as the default option.
So what do you think? Have you done an MBA? Why or why not? We’d love to hear!