The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a degree which either enhances your knowledge of business or broadens your knowledge of functions such as finance, marketing, operations etc. Therefore, it is seen as a degree which is useful for almost everyone. Although you might see it as an exaggeration, there are several benefits of pursuing an MBA.
Some of the key benefits of getting an MBA degree are typically:
- Development of skills in specific fields such as finance, marketing, strategy, operations etc. in order to become consultants, investment banker, product manager etc. in companies like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and Amazon etc.
- Access to network of alumni
- Greater chance to work in a country or geographical area of your choice
- Development of skills for setting up a company
- An intellectually stimulating and interesting experience
- Move from individual team member to managing a team
- Change in career
It is obvious that there are several advantages of earning an MBA, however, you should think about them in relation to one another. If you give more importance to outgoing salary after graduating from a school than access to the alumni network, you should probably choose Stanford than Wharton or Harvard. Stanford MBA graduates are amongst the highest paid, but it has fewer alumni than that of Wharton or Harvard.
The analysis of these benefits should be considered over both the short-term and the long-term also. Many candidates hope to work in consulting or technology companies, but they are often short-term or medium-term goals. You should also think about what you plan to do 5 or 10 years after graduation, and you need to bear this in mind when choosing a business school.
What can you expect in an MBA program?
In a good MBA program, you can expect to learn things that cannot normally be learned on the job, for example, accounts, statistics, and managerial economics. The program can also shorten the time needed to learn things that can be learned on the job. In addition, you will learn how businesses work, how different business functions are connected, and how companies compete with each other. The top business schools also teach students how to manage a business or a team in a global and data-driven environment.
You get all this by being, to some extent, in a training camp for managers. You are drilled in the basics of business and process a large set of data or materials to get key insights. You also work and compete with your peers who come from different backgrounds, and, in general, live life in a fast paced environment. The net outcome is an MBA graduate with broad business skills and attributes.
The positive qualities associated with MBA graduates from top business schools include:
- Superior knowledge, as shown by the admissions hurdles candidates are expected to clear
- Inclination to invest in themselves, as shown by their eagerness to earn an MBA degree
- Readiness to work long and hard, as shown by their effort to complete an MBA
- Highly motivated: Proactive and Self-confident
- Good mix of theoretical knowledge and practical experience
- Ability to work in a team, with people from diverse background
- Capable of working under intense time and performance pressure
- Good communication and social skills
- Great problem-solving skills and knowledge of how different parts of business functions and fits together
The negative qualities
- Expectations of higher salaries and fast career growth
- Perceived less loyal to a company and more devoted to jobs which pay higher salaries
There is no doubt that an MBA graduate gets more than a set of business skills and attitudes. The association with a top business school, along with the services of its placement department, helps you gain a suitable job. The alumni status, as well as the friendship you develop during the program, is key valuable assets for your lifetime. Your resume reflecting an MBA degree will have long-term value also.
Does MBA help you change your career?
Many candidates pursue an MBA in order to change their career. But does an MBA really change your career?
Students who want a dramatic change in their career must be careful in deciding a new career path. It should not be difficult for a medical doctor to become a hospital manager since the doctor has relevant experience in hospital operations. However, the same may not be true for a software engineer who wants to become an investment banker.
Although, not impossible, it becomes increasingly difficult for such candidates to switch their career to a completely unrelated field. The change may still happen, if a candidate has strong analytical skills and has worked extensively on projects related to investment banking, including internship or practicum course in a similar domain.
Your pre-MBA work experience plays a significant role in deciding which employer shows an interest in you.
If you lack a relevant experience, make good use of time while you are in the business school. Do something more than simply taking relevant courses. For example, take practicum courses in a field which is of interest to you. Similarly, you can take up an independent project with a faculty who is well-known in your interested field.
It will be more useful if you can show a mini “credentials” in your interested field. You can add to your credentials by taking an internship in a relevant company or, if necessary, work on a project for free to get a point of entry with such firm.
Play an active role in relevant student clubs. Volunteer in organizing relevant events and network with people who attend those events. Join the local branches of the industry associations most closely attached to your interested field.
Students who are in two-year MBA program have more opportunities to take up activities which add to their credentials. They can work in this field or related one during the summer internships and on a part-time basis during the second year. In addition, if you find time before the MBA program commences, you can do a preprogram internship in your interested field.
Even with these thoughts, don’t just assume that you can definitely make a career change in a field you desire. Take help of career service officers in your school, discuss and decide whether you should look for a career change. If yes, you should work with them on how to go about it.
Do you really need an MBA?
If any of the benefits of earning an MBA that are listed at the beginning of this article strike a chord with you, getting an MBA is probably right for you. If you want to be a better manager, advance quickly in your current organization, set up your own business, give yourself more career choices, or simply earn more money, an MBA is probably going to be the right investment.
Even after you have decided to get an MBA, there may still be lots of questions which you need to answer. Some of the questions include: Do you want to get the MBA now or later? Do you want to enroll into a full-time or a part-time program? Do you want to get into a two year or one year MBA program? What specialization should you go for?
In my next series of blog posts, We will answer some of the common questions that every candidate faces.