I meet some of my clients after they have completed an MBA program. Some of them have previous work experience in totally unrelated fields and assume that the MBA is an automatic ticket to a new job, a management role, and a higher salary. And often they are very disappointed when they realize that the MBA is not the golden ticket they thought it would be. Before returning to school for an MBA, ask yourself these questions.
Why you are considering the MBA? If it is to learn the curriculum that is taught, great. If you are doing it because you think you will earn more money, tread carefully. Earning an MBA does not guarantee you will be paid better than your non MBA counterparts. And they may have gained valuable practical work experience while you were spending your time learning the theories behind management in school.
Does the MBA support the career you have already started or take you in a totally new direction? If the MBA builds on experience you already have in a particular area, gaining the degree may help add an additional level of expertise and relevance. But if the MBA focus is unrelated to your past experience, just having the MBA won’t necessarily open the right doors for you.
Can you get a third party to help pay the tuition costs? If your company offers some tuition reimbursement or if you were previously part of the military this might be the case. Better to have someone else help defer the costs than end up in debt later on.
How old are you? If you have been working for less than 5 years, getting the MBA may be a logical career move. If you are going back to school after 15+ years, chances are it won’t get you as far. The one
exception may be an EMBA program that your employer is sponsoring.
Are you considering an MBA because you see job postings that say an MBA is preferred ? Take this with a grain of salt. The employer may be using this preferred qualification as a screening tool. Networking is still the best way to find a job. Having a relationship and no MBA is generally better than having an MBA and no relationship.
Deciding whether or not to go back to school is a big decision that requires significant time and money. Regardless of the degree program you are considering, assess how an advanced degree will help position you for future opportunities and be honest with yourself about what a degree can and cannot do. Talk to people who have completed the degree program you are interested in and learn what their outcomes have been. Make an appointment with the school’s admissions office to learn about their career resources and support systems, and if possible, their placement rate.