I decided to take the last two weeks off. Well, really I decided to take one week off two weeks ago so I could take advantage of the time with my family while traveling Europe. Also, I got a bit sick… and the absolute last thing you want to do when you’re sick and on vacation in Europe is work. So I opted out.
And then I was just crazy busy while in London. I’m talking up and out the door by 8:30AM every day, and returning around 11PM each night. Apparently my social life is more active in London than in Dallas. (Don’t worry – posts will come soon!)
But now we’re good. I’m in Paris with friends, but I believe I can deliver with a degree of normalcy. And I’ve decided to kick off said normalcy with a post which has been long-requested: how to decide if you’re ready to get your MBA.
PS for more MBA-related content click here!
What I’m Wearing:
Dress: Ann Taylor | Sweater: Ann Taylor | Bag: Senreve | Shoes: Cole Haan
Earrings: similar | Ring: DEFOREST JEWELRY, C/O
Obviously – and I really feel like this should go without saying – everybody is different. I know so many people who decided to or not to get an MBA for so many different reasons. These are just the reasons that prompted me and my friends to go get our MBAs.
First and foremost, you should know that an MBA is most useful for the network. I honestly didn’t learn too much from the past two years of schooling… Or, at least, I didn’t learn too much that I couldn’t have taught myself. Most of what I learned was about myself: how I work with others, how I work most efficiently, and where my true strengths and weaknesses lie.
Just as a note: I did land an amazing job making legitimately 2x what I made pre-MBA, so I definitely still think the MBA is worth it.
How to Decide if You’re Ready to Get Your MBA
Amongst my classmates, there were 4 major reasons why people were pursuing an MBA:
- to take a break from working
- a desire to change industries
- a desire to change jobs within the same industry
- the necessity of an MBA to qualify for the next level
- to expand one’s network
I found myself bouncing between reasons 2 and 3, with a hint of 4 and 5. While 1 is a legit reason to get an MBA, it shouldn’t be your only reason. If you just want to take a break for a year or two, quit: it saves you the cost of tuition (which can be really high). Take a few months to go travel and then regroup to figure out what’s next. It’s cheaper.
If you fit the reason(s) above and are still interested in possibly getting your MBA, now’s the time to decide if you’re ready to get your MBA.
How to Decide if You’re Ready to Get Your MBA: Work Experience
While many MBA programs will admit candidates with less than 5 years of work experience, I really recommend having at least 4 or 5 years of work experience pre-MBA. This is just so you can get the most out of your MBA.
My classmates who didn’t have this experience didn’t always have the ability to participate and engage in class conversations. A few of them struggled academically or socially. Sure, there is a tipping point after which you will no longer benefit from an MBA due to the wealth of experience you have. However, that’s typically around 8-10 years of work experience and I still had classmates who met that criteria and benefited astronomically from the MBA – really just depends on you.
How to Decide if You’re Ready to Get Your MBA: Your Post-MBA Goal
When you’re figuring out how to decide if you’re ready to get your MBA, keep your end goal in mind. If your goal is to continue with your same company but get the next level promotion, perhaps an MBA isn’t right for you (unless your firm requires it). If, however, your goal is to take your career from software sales in the energy space to consulting or aviation strategy, the MBA might just be worth its price tag. Whatever your goal may be, take time to research. Look up which types of companies recruit at your target schools and do some soul-searching to determine whether or not you could see yourself working for such a company.
For instance, certain schools really focus on consulting and finance and have little presence in entrepreneurship. If you want to go work for a startup after school, perhaps such a program might not be right for you. Before you decide where you’re going to go, you need to think long and hard about what you want to do post-MBA. If you can’t answer that question, maybe now isn’t the right time. (Note that my answer changed 3 times, which is totally okay. You just want to have an answer.)
How to Decide if You’re Ready to Get Your MBA: You Kinda Miss School
Getting an MBA involves a lot of parties. Most programs host weekly Happy Hours during which the students can network. And then there are the networking functions with industry professionals. And on top of that, there are often trips abroad with classmates, run by the school. Sounds fun, right?
But there’s also a classroom aspect to the MBA. And if the only thing you miss about college is partying on Greek row, perhaps now’s not the right time for you. However, if you also miss the classroom aspect of school (learning, working closely with people from different backgrounds, and creating deliverables that must be submitted by a certain time or else), then maybe now might actually be the right time for you to pursue an MBA.
Like I said earlier, it really depends on the person. I found my MBA to be dramatically easier – academically speaking – than undergrad. But I also knew people who said the exact opposite. It’s not two years of parties: it’s two years of graduate school. With a [large] side of parties.