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Korina Karampela

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Is It Worth Doing an MBA? Part I

Posted: 19/02/2013 10:21

First, I have a disclosure to make. I have an MBA from MIT Sloan. I can't say I had a fab time during these 2 years (far from it). I learnt a lot though - not only about business but also about myself. My professors and my classmates were great. Did it enhance my career? I am not sure. Am I happy to have done it? Definitely yes. Would I do it again? Possibly not.

When people come to me for advice whether to do an MBA or not, I am in a really awkward position. I don't want to discourage them - the fact that they want to do an MBA (and all the sacrifices that come with it) shows they are ambitious. On the other hand, I want to tell them that the reality is not as rosy as it appears on the MBA brochures.

So, as an MBA graduate I decided to use a 'tool' to communicate this fine balance. It is called the SWOT analysis. This strategic planning method is used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in a business venture.

An MBA is a significant business venture (financed by you most of the times) and you need to do a thorough research before you embark on it.

Strengths:

- You get general knowledge across various business topics
- Your confidence increases from the minute you get accepted at top MBA (you immediately forget the other top schools that have rejected you)
- You learn to ask the right questions
- You get all the 'tools' you need to make a proper analysis (we love tools; five forces, 4Ps, SWOT analysis, etc)
- It looks great on your resume
- Your earning power will increase the minute you graduate

Weaknesses:

- You are not an expert in anything.
- You feel you are the best and all your co-workers hate you
- Although you ask the right questions, you can rarely give the right answers
- You hardly ever use these 'tools' in real life (unless you write blogs!)
- On-the-job experience is more important
- Those who go into investment banking skew the median salaries reported. Before you apply, take into consideration tuition fees, living expenses and opportunity cost

Opportunities:

- It will boost your career
- It will help you make a career change
- You will have a great network
- It will open many doors

Threats:

- Your future employer would like you to start from the lower ranks
- If you graduate during a recession, you will be lucky to get back your old job
- You stop being in touch with 90% of your classmates 2 years after graduation (For the remaining 10%, Thank God LinkedIn and Facebook exist)
- It will open a couple of doors only if you have gone to a top-tier MBA. Then, career progression will be purely based on your performance

Now that you have all these information, it is up to your to make a decision whether to do an MBA or not.

The bottom line: There is no doubt that you learn a lot from an MBA. There are many other ways to learn as well. If you decide to do one, I am certain you will 'enjoy' the journey. I can't promise anything though about the destination.

Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, career consultant, speaker and author of "b4iapply to uni" and "b4iapply to college". She has held senior executive positions in the pharmaceutical industry and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. You can find more articles about professional development at Korina's b4iapply blog.

 

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