Why You Should Work Before Pursuing an MBA
In today's job market, many of the conventional paths to success are no longer a sure thing. One of these conventions, the tried-and-true MBA, is just not as valid as it used to be. Before you enroll in an MBA program, consider getting your feet wet by working. Here are some reasons why gaining job experience may be the better option.
Many people graduating with MBA's today are not finding the jobs they expected to waiting for them. And now they’re saddled with triple-digit student loans. Some top MBA programs cost as much as $200,000 with the combined tuition, room-and-board, books and supplies. International students can face even bigger hurdles. Federal funds for education (grants and loans through the U.S. Department of Education) are available to US students, but not to India and other international students (However, every country has their own grants, scholarships, etc). Couple this with the ever-increasing price of tuition and dim prospects for a higher payoff, and putting off the MBA seems like a good choice.
It’s no guarantee for a lucrative job
Innovation and the Internet are proving to be better job prospects than heading to a university to gain networks and connections. The Internet is making it easier for people to network and create more promising opportunities. With the social media and websites such as LinkedIn, these powerful job-searching tools are a far more effective way to obtain work. It is more important to invest in yourself by finding your passion and learning what you’re good at than relying on an MBA degree—especially since financing the degree is becoming more and more difficult for the average person. Unless you’re able to get into college without paying the heavy debt, it is no longer a good investment to acquire an MBA if your only reason is to get a high paying job. The salaries just aren't there.
Accumulating valuable work experience my be a better way to invest your time. It will not only help you focus on finding your skills, you will gain insights into what you like and how to fit into the changing dynamics of business. The key is to learn as much as you can and proactively research as you go along. Knowing what is happening in the job world right now will help you make better decisions in the long run. A good place to start researching jobs and industries is the USDL's Occupational Outlook Handbook. Understanding where jobs are now and where they are going is much better than blindly working toward an MBA degree.
You can always go back to school
The conventional way of thinking is that the more education you have, the better. That may be true for certain specialized fields such as bioengineering, library and museum sciences, or teaching history at a four-year university. All of these careers require higher degrees beyond a Master’s degree. The key is to know these things before you invest the time and money in a degree. There is no good reason why you have to continue racking up college debt without fully realizing and exploring the work force. At this point, it is necessary to do that critical work before continuing your education. You can't afford to throw money at something unless you have done your homework and are certain of the field you are going into is right for you. Job experience is the best way to gain that knowledge. College is always there and you may be in a better financial position to invest in it after acquiring work experience.
Above all, get to know who you are, what you want and what the world needs. Sign up for a LinkedIn account and give yourself a big career boost. Build your network, gain career knowledge and get yourself out there. And if you must have an MBA, consider doing it part-time. It may be a great way to have both feet in business and in business school at the same time.
Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet, a financial literacy site that empowers students by helping them better understand their financial decisions, especially tough issues like when to pursue an advanced degree, when to pay off debt and when to save.