Am I Ready For An MBA?

It’s summer, which means that along enjoying vacations and relaxing on the beach, some people are considering whether to pursue an MBA this fall.  A recent article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explored this very question.  The story presented four reasons why pursuing an MBA could make sense for individuals considering the degree.  After completing my first year of CSUF’s MBA, I have my own insights and opinions to share regarding these four reasons, detailed below.

Your employer covers (some or all of) the costs.  Many employers want their best employees continuously improving their skills and working towards upper-management positions.  Often, instead of directly offering training programs to these employees (which can be costly), the employers offer to pay some or all of the costs of earning an MBA.  In my specific situation, my employer offers $2,000 a year in tuition reimbursements as long I remain with the organization.  Despite the fact that CSUF’s MBA program is a great value financially, I’m still happy to receive the tuition assistance.  And the best part is that I have flexibility once I earn my degree.  I didn’t have to agree to work “x” number of years for my employer after earning the MBA.  I can earn tuition reimbursements as long as I work there, but that also offers me the flexibility to leave whenever I wish (even during the middle of my degree).  Most other MBA programs are extremely expensive so unless you’ve qualified for a fantastic scholarship or inherited a lot of money, you better hope your employer will help cover some of those costs.

You find yourself needing another marketable skill.  This is one of the major reasons I chose to pursue an MBA.  Some people find their resume lacking certain skills in order to open doors to a field or industry they’re interested in entering.  In my case, my current job was not allowing me to develop the skills I wanted to transition to a new career path.  So I decided that CSUF’s MBA would be the best way for me to learn those necessary skills, and I’m developing those skills through the classes I chose and activities I participate in.

You know you want to be in management.  This is other major reason I chose to earn my MBA.  The only complaint I have about this reason (one year into my degree), is that CSUF’s MBA program only seems to cover management topics at a surface level.  There’s a big difference between role-playing the firing of a poor performing employee, and actually telling someone face-to-face they are out of a job and cannot support their family.  MBA programs seem to have a difficult time simulating those challenging situations, and it seems likely those scenarios can only be learned through experience.  But MBA programs are good at encouraging strategic-level thinking in students, which is an especially important skill for up-and-coming managers.

You have time to earn an MBA.  Earning an MBA degree is a huge time commitment.  Even for myself, I’m pursuing my degree part-time, balancing full-time work, writing a blog, spending time with friends and family, I still find making time for school to be a challenging balancing act.  My first MBA semester was especially difficult.  I learned quickly not to let myself fall behind on my course work, and my second semester was much more manageable once I learned that lesson.  Being aware of the time requirements of an MBA degree is extremely important.  Part-time degrees can still allow students time to work full-time.  Full-time degrees however, often won’t let students have a job during their first year.  In addition, time devoted to coursework and activities during a full-time program are enormous.  Be sure to select the program that best fits your life situation and work situation before fully embarking on your MBA journey.

Here is an interesting article I came across while reading this week:

“Why I Like People with Unconventional Resumes” – This Harvard Business Review author likes to see non-linear job changes from job applicants when filling senior positions.  These disruptive moves can indicate to hiring managers that a candidate is flexible, able to adapt, good at developing relationships, curious, inspired and determined.  Definitely an interesting idea to consider when applying for your next job.  Don’t think less of your non-linear job changes – they might help you land that next big gig!

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