To get an MBA or not get an MBA?

  • Hunter9

    Posts: 1039

    Dec 24, 2010 6:40 PM GMT
    Ok, I know that ultimately the decision has to be mine, but I'm looking for any opinions, experiences, anecdotes, or advice.

    Here's where I'm at in a nut-shell.
    I'm 29 with a degree in economics. I'm three years in as a research manager/analyst for a mid-sized market research company in LA. The company is great... the people are awesome, it's a very collaborative/team-oriented company and I enjoy the challenges presented on a daily basis. The pay is good (not great). I've been promoted twice since I began and have no doubt that I could find myself just below the executives and GMs in a few years if I continued down this path.

    However, as much as I enjoy working there, I'm not sure I want to do market research my whole life and thus am considering an MBA to open up other options. A career I'd pursue after this would be in business consulting, ideally working for one of the three big management consulting firms. While the work is long and hard, I'm sure I'd find it fascinating and both the pay and "exit opportunities" are fantastic.

    Given that I'm 29, I figure it's either go for the MBA now (2012-2013) or stay where I'm at. Do I stay in a comfortable, more than adequate, but somewhat limiting situation, or do I roll the dice and risk 6 figures worth of debt and no guarantee that I'll end up in my ideal situation and get the MBA?

    Decisions decisions!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 24, 2010 9:05 PM GMT
    I'm finishing up my MBA this Spring and in my field, pharmaceutical research and development, it is helpful. However, the degree is becoming a dime a dozen, the job market is becoming overwhelmed with numerous people with an MBA. Therefore, if you decide to pursue this path, be very critical regarding the program that you choose.

    Most people believe that the value of the degree is from the connections that it gives you versus the knowledge that you gain in the field. Therefore, if you're going after the degree, go to a prestigious school otherwise you're degree will be rendered moot and you'll have nothing more than $30K of debt to show for it.

    Note: While I don't like being a prestige beast, perception is reality. A degree from a prestigious school such as Harvard is considered to be much stronger than a degree from Bob & Edna's Technical Institute and Truck Emporium or UNC. (As a Duke fan, I had to get in a barb.)
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 24, 2010 9:21 PM GMT
    Agree with the posts above. If you have a solid future at your firm stick with it. Talk to your boss or your division VP, let them know you want to progress, they may have some suggestions on other learning you can do to help your career with them. It also puts your name in their head when they think about who's next to move up.

    I seriously considered doing my MBA 3 years ago, talked to my boss, was told not to devote the time or money as they would "teach me everything I needed", they followed through and now I am 2 steps away from the C-suite. Granted I don't have the additional letters after my name, but I am gaining incredible experience and transferable skills while earning a great living.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 24, 2010 9:29 PM GMT
    jprichva said
    Hunter9 said
    =Given that I'm 29, I figure it's either go for the MBA now (2012-2013) or stay where I'm at. Do I stay in a comfortable, more than adequate, but somewhat limiting situation, or do I roll the dice and risk 6 figures worth of debt and no guarantee that I'll end up in my ideal situation and get the MBA?

    There was a study published a year or so ago that said that unless you take your MBA at Harvard or Wharton (U-Penn), the difference in lifetime earnings between an MBA holder and a non-MBA holder is exactly.........zero. Be warned.

    It may be different in the LA area where local connections can be important, especially from Anderson (UCLA), Marshall (USC), or Graziadio (Pepperdine). It might be worth seeing if there are any alumni or other sites where you can see messages without joining, or even if you can join and ask alumni what their experience has been.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 24, 2010 10:02 PM GMT
    I agree with everything Chemguy said. My sister did an MBA here in Sydney and alot of the people in her course were already quite senior in their respective organisations, but they were doing the course for all the connections that it opened up.

    I also agree that the marketplace is being flooded with them. When I worked in recruitment (eons ago) that was the standard - everyone had one and it often didn't really differentiate people.

    If you have the time and inclination, I say go for it. Maybe talk to your employers and see if they will pay for it/subsidize some of it. There's no negative for them in you doing the course and would be a worthy investment.
  • joxguy

    Posts: 236

    Dec 24, 2010 10:33 PM GMT
    Here is the advise from an educator of 32 years. More education is never bad or a waist of time. Two things:

    1. If you are competing with someone of equal knowledge, skills, and personality, but the competitors has an MBA, that could be the difference.

    2. You are 29 now in two years you will be 31 whether you take the time to get an MBA or not, so go for it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 24, 2010 10:53 PM GMT
    socalfitness said
    It may be different in the LA area where local connections can be important, especially from Anderson (UCLA), Marshall (USC), or Graziadio (Pepperdine). It might be worth seeing if there are any alumni or other sites where you can see messages without joining, or even if you can join and ask alumni what their experience has been.


    Great comment here! Asking alumni about their experience in the program, particularly alumni who work in your field, would let you know whether or not the MBA is worth the time and money.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Dec 25, 2010 2:01 AM GMT
    Since you are looking at the possibility of using the MBA to open options, do check what percentage of the cohort manage to change jobs/job scope post-MBA. That would give you an idea of your own chances, and if it is worth pursuing the degree.

    I am with everyone that the MBA is so common now that it is no longer the differentiator like it used to be. Hence, it is usually the strength of the alumni network and the people you meet while in school that makes the difference.

    Would definitely have done differently if I had known sooner, so I encourage you to do your research.