Author Topic: To MBA or not to MBA?  (Read 1774 times)

icyappraiser

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To MBA or not to MBA?
« on: December 08, 2017, 02:52:10 PM »
Mid 20s male here making good money (just shy of 100k currently) working in a job I generally enjoy (as much as one can enjoy an office job).

A lot of higher-ups in my company have pushed me to get my MBA as a way to accelerate my career, but the same people have acknowledged that if I want to stay with the company, the degree itself wouldn't be any more than a "checkbox" to get me to the next level. This does hold true in what I see at the company--people without masters degrees progress at a substantially slower pace. The premise of spending the time and money to get a degree only because it is arbitrarily required obviously irks me a bit. However, if I did it, it would be at a local school part-time while I continue to work and my company would cover somewhere between 50-100% of the cost (depending on program, timing, etc). However, there is still a value on my time above this.

Currently, I'm all-in on the prospect of being FI and the flexibility it would give my life, but still lukewarm on leaving a well-paying job I do generally enjoy when I reach FI in my mid to late 30s. At current income/savings rate, I'm about 10 years from being FI.

If you were me, would you do the MBA or not?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Kroaler

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2017, 05:02:01 PM »
Following.  In a similar situation but it's for Associates ->Bachelor's.         

JoJo

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 05:17:05 PM »
If the company is paying almost all, I would consider it.      But generally I don't think MBAs are worth it.   

jamesbond007

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 05:27:36 PM »
Agree with JoJo. #1 thing that any MBA student gets out of is a network. But there are other ways to build your network these days. I was in the same boat 6 years ago. Spend $100K+ 2 full years  on an MBA or invest the time and a fraction of the money in building my own tech start-up. I decided to do the latter. Spent 18 months building and launching my product. Spent some money ($6K total). Got my user base. Didn't work out. But, I just got my MBA. Used that experience to jump into the career I wanted to pursue.

Now, if you are talking about a Master's in a Tech field, then it's a different story.

YoungInvestor

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2017, 05:44:46 AM »
I was in a similar position and decided to do it. Fortunately, I was able to go to one of the best schools in Canada for a smaller amount of money than what could be expected in the US (much smaller, my GMAT was extremely high, which helped with a scholarship), and I can do it part time.

My employer has been extremely receptive and I do think I'm already seeing some benefits after about a quarter of the degree.

It's not really about learning anything, but it does get you to reflect a lot on your career and makes you a well-rounded person for management roles (you don't leave with very thorough knowledge in anything, but you get a bit of everything).

I had taken a few classes, just to see how it was, in a different school that was really not as well ranked, and it really blew. The teachers were nobodies and the students were pretty much just a bunch of average people just looking to check a box (which didn't lead to a lot of quality sharing).

In my current program, students are really interested, teachers are mostly ex-CxOs, top academics and even someone who used to be a minister of finance. That makes a difference.

YMMV. By a lot.

Broadway2019

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 05:57:16 AM »
I did a weekend program for both my MBA and Masters in Engineering. I don't think I learned much in either, however, it gets me the interviews with top companies. I don't think it gets you the job if you don't interview well, but your resume would stand out. My career progression since college has been the following.

Graduated 2009 - made $13 as an analyst in Floirda at top 50 company. (embarrassing they pay so low)
2009 - 2012 - Continue progressing in the company while getting MBA part-time - before leaving was up to $45k - they paid 80%
2013 - was able to get many interviews and landed at another top 50 company. Income up to $75k
2015 - completed masters in engineering. Moved to MD and jumped to $100k - spend $20k on masters in engineering.
2016 - Jumped again to another top 50 and no earning $130k

Less than 10 years, went from $13/hr to $130k. No one in my family is really in business, most do trade jobs (nursing, firefighters, etc.) so had no connections. But I definitely think I would not have gotten the interviews without the credentials. Recruiters look for checkboxes. This gets you the chance at an opportunity. My return on investment has been great. I would do it again even if I had to pay out of pocket. FYI, University of Florida has a weekend program where you go once a month for 16 months. It is pretty cheap and a lot of students flew in for the weekend because it was cheaper then going up north in New York, etc.. Something to think about.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2017, 05:58:59 AM by kwarden13 »

Beach_Stache

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2017, 07:06:42 AM »
I think if you can stomach the extra schooling and get most of it paid for it will certainly pay off financially.  Even if you plan to FIRE in the next 10 years and the program takes 2-3 years it will probably pay itself off, but it's just whether the juice is worth the squeeze.  In 10 years you may feel like you'd be bored not working, and that masters and extra promotions within that time will certainly open a lot of doors for you.  I had the same questions myself, I have worked for the federal gov't for 10 years and my current plan is to go for the 30 year mark, as I enjoy my job, but unless I went for a "manager" role I'm not sure a masters would get me that promotion.  In the private sector I think it would open up a lot of doors though.

My big thing is that I never enjoyed school.  I love the job and am always working extra hours b/c I enjoy it, I just could never get into school and the static teachers/testing/environment, it's just not nearly as exciting on working on real projects that get you more than a "grade".  That is me personally.  If you can get it paid for (or most of it) and can stomach it or even halfway enjoy it, I would definitely go for it!

foghorn

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 09:14:04 AM »
I was in a similar situation many years ago and decided to get my MBA.  I was fortunate that my employer covered much of the cost and I also had a job with some flexibility which made it easier to do - even though most classes were at night.  Lastly, I wanted to get my MBA while I was still young and knew what it was like to be a student. Had I waited 10-15 years, I doubt I would have ever gone back to school.  I did a part time, evening program.

Was it worth it?  As I sit here today I will say - YES.  Not because I learned anything.  Frankly, I cannot say that I walked out of that program any smarter than I walked into it.  I have learned more about business by reading the Wall Street Journal everyday and watching CNBC the I ever did in Grad School.  However, (as others have stated) - it was a "check the box" exercise that allowed me to put MBA on my resume.

I know for a fact that as I pursued other jobs (with other companies) - having an MBA was a basic requirement that got me an interview.  Once interviewing, or on the job - no one ever brought up having an MBA.  It is a sad state - but I dealt with the reality that having and MBA would matter when someone in an HR department was sorting a group of resumes.

I think the only MBA's that really matter are the true top tier programs (Warton, Harvard, Kellogg, etc.).  Those graduates are recruited by the biggest companies and will always land good jobs because of that pedigree.

I hope these 2 cents help.


Rocketman

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2017, 09:49:09 AM »
Looking at my wifeís career getting her MBA paid off big-time. But then her MBA opened up Management roles (and upper management) that her personality is very good at.

I got my masters (masters of accounting) while in school, and it probably has not helped me - because I donít want to be in Management (my personality is not right for it) and the accounting job I am doing doesnít need it. (And I like my job). But I did give me a more rounded picture of business.

Good luck -

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2017, 02:10:59 PM »
If the company is paying 100%, definitely do it, nothing to lose.  MBAs are good for 2 things, networking and understanding how businesses operate better. If youíre going into management, they are helpful for the inexperienced.. But, and a big but, MBAs only really matter (outside of a company culture) if youíve got one from the top programs in the country. Have one from Harvard or Wharton and youíll open doors anywhere. If itís the local program and not a big name, that might just help you at your current job only. Now, to leverage that, you use the local MBA to move up your company as far as you can go, get lots of experience, then youíll be attractive to other companies and they wonít care about the MBA, youíll know what youíre doing.

oldtoyota

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2017, 02:21:00 PM »
Do you want to learn what's taught in the program? You've mentioned career advancement and salary--but you didn't mention what you'd learn or would want to learn from the MBA program.

You already make $100K. What would the MBA bring you in terms of years closer to FIRE or more money or more of whatever it is that you want? What would the MBA take away?

Look into whether your employer will make you pay back any tuition should you decide to resign or get laid off, etc.


MrThatsDifferent

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2017, 02:56:40 PM »
Do you want to learn what's taught in the program? You've mentioned career advancement and salary--but you didn't mention what you'd learn or would want to learn from the MBA program.

You already make $100K. What would the MBA bring you in terms of years closer to FIRE or more money or more of whatever it is that you want? What would the MBA take away?

Look into whether your employer will make you pay back any tuition should you decide to resign or get laid off, etc.

The, if you resign, is a good point. Generally you have to stay with a company for 6 months to a year, but yes, check this out.

w@nker

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2017, 06:44:10 PM »
At your comp level, I would only consider an MBA if it were from H/S/W.  Otherwise, your ROI isn't going to look that great.  That's assuming, of course, that you have the skills, knowledge, and emotional intelligence required to progress without it.  If you are a rockstar at work, not having an MBA won't hold you back.  I work with folks who don't have a college education and make seven digits a year.  An MBA can certainly make the path a little easier, but at what cost (opportunity cost of time not progressing and financial burden)?

Now, if you aren't an absolute stud with very deep and broad business acumen, then - contrary to what some folks are saying - a top MBA program CAN be transformational.  I am a much better business executive because of my MBA education, no doubt.  There isn't a day at work that goes by that I don't apply some of the knowledge and frameworks that I picked up in b-school.

kissthesky

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2017, 07:59:00 PM »
Are you genuinely interested in going back to school - and doing so on top of your full-time job? If so, then I say great - go for it. But if the thought of going back to school gives you the full-body feeling of "ughhhh" then I say pass.

affordablehousing

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2017, 11:08:48 AM »
MBA's are only useful in my mind if you can make an immediate step-up in salary that pays for your time for it. No one should have to pay for an MBA- either work or fellowships should cover tuition, but if you can't at least double your salary after graduating it's not worth it imho. If it's checking a box why not do a weekend or night program. From what I saw, the programs themselves are just a two year drinking party with professors tired of getting scolded by know-it-all seen-it-all students and giving up on creating a very rigorous environment. That said, it was fun, and I think there's something to the notion of taking a two year pre-fire, mini-fire.

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2017, 11:25:02 AM »
I'm in a very similar position (although not making quite as much- way to go). I've decided No MBA, at least for now.

Here are some questions I've had people ask me:

Is it a top tier school or local state school? Do you want to stay at your current company forever or move around? Are your true career aspirations upper management? Do you want your career to be your defining "thing" in life?

I agree with the other posters who have said don't pay for an MBA (which it doesn't sound like you are).

In my situation, I would only consider the local, part time options (I have a family). I don't see myself moving companies just for higher pay, and while I think I'd like a management position, I'd never want to be Top Dog- I don't want my life to be defined by my job. Sometimes I am tempted to do school because I genuinely like school, though.

icyappraiser

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Re: To MBA or not to MBA?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2017, 03:39:59 PM »
Thanks everyone for the thoughts. A couple answers/additional thoughts...

(1) I've thought about a top-tier MBA and decided against it due to my current situation and life goals (although I agree that there is ROI in these programs for the right person). I'm not opposed to job hopping in the future, but right now I like where I live, what I do and the company I'm with and have no desire to change any of those. Given I'm not trying to break into a new career or a NYC/SF/CHI/LA corporate scene at this point the cost and quitting my job to do it don't make sense. So it's definitely an affordable, night/weekend, local state school or online program if I do it.

(2) As far as how I see my career fitting in with my life, it is important to me but I would not put it at the top of the list. I'd like to progress in responsibility and comp from where I am now, but I see myself reaching a point where I would prioritize time/family over further advancement (want to have a family eventually). I'm not an extravagant person as is, so I don't see a bump to $300k motivating me too much when I'm already at $200k and would rather have more time back.

(3) While I do think I would find some the actual schoolwork interesting, if I'm being honest with myself, it's more of a career/financial ROI play.

So, essentially any benefit of getting the degree is allowing me to get to a point where I decide to make that prioritization decision sooner...whether that be FIRE, working part-time, or just saying I don't want to take on more responsibility in exchange for more time. The cost is any out of pocket cost (likely minimal, if anything) and the free time I would give up over the next few years.

Right now, I'm considering trying it for a semester and revisiting the decision after that.