I think I want an MBA. Wait: do I?

So you’re thinking about going to business school – maybe you want an MBA. It sounds like the right next move to make, you went to a great undergraduate institution, got a solid job, have been working your way up for the last few years, but you’re up for another challenge… something’s… missing, and working on your MBA might be exactly that (pause and ask: do I want an MBA?)

from "www.countdowntotranquility.com"
First up: what are you trying to achieve?

Try to think of your immediate goals (1- to 3-year goals), and then about what you want to accomplish in the long run (5- to 10-year goals and beyond). Get that on paper and start thinking about what’s required. In some cases, you might just be itching for a promotion in terms of your domain, or larger responsibility in terms of the team you manage.

Many will tell you that an MBA is a great choice if you’re looking to change one of three things:

  • industry
  • location
  • your job

And that makes a lot of sense. It can establish or enhance your management skillset, open up a completely new network across industries and locations, and offer you the credibility that comes with the globally-known and respected certification that it is.

Consider these questions

Before researching programs and cracking open a GMAT (or GRE) study book, consider the following questions (in addition to those in a previous guest post by Christie Cruz: read it here). It’s a huge investment so you want to make sure it’s exactly what you want and need:

  1. Am I looking to change my industry, location or my current job / responsibilities?
  2. Do my goals require me to expand my network, and will the programs I am considering really give me access to resources I couldn’t tap into on my own? Do I want an MBA to provide access I can’t gain another way?
  3. Are there other more specialized degrees (such as an MS in Finance, a Master’s in Marketing, Data Science, etc) that might better equip me with the skills I need to move forward?
  4. Are there certifications, programs, classes or resources that I can work toward to receive more specialized knowledge or reach a wider network for my industry (certifications like the CFA, coding programs, accelerators like YCombinator or 500 Startups)?
  5. If I’m looking to change location, does my current company sponsor employees to work in new markets? Can I secure a position that way? (Through my company, completely separate from the completion of my MBA, I secured a short-term assignment in London and it opened up a new world to me – more on that in a future blog post!)
It’s all in the timing

The MBA is sometimes seen as the next logical step in the “career development formula” we all know, but it might not be the correct next step for you. Ask yourself these questions, talk to your mentors and make the decision that’s right for you. And remember: just because it might not be the right decision right now doesn’t mean it’s not the right decision ever.

Maybe come back to it again later, but pro-tip: consider taking the GMAT or GRE as close as you can to finishing undergrad. Scores are good for five years; you’re basically a professional test-taker, and getting back into study mode is not. easy. to. do.).

How did you decide to pursue an MBA? Have you considered an MBA and gone another way? Would love to hear about your experience! Comment below.

Photos from Countdown to Tranquility

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