Author Topic: Was your MBA worth it?  (Read 3264 times)

khangaroo

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Was your MBA worth it?
« on: December 16, 2016, 09:58:12 AM »
This question is for Mustachians who have completed an MBA program.

I've just completed my first term in a part-time MBA program at Portland State University here in Portland, OR. I am working full time as a construction engineer making $82k and I am cash-flowing the degree; my company is paying for a portion of it. My estimate is that the degree will cost me approximately $30k after 2 years and I have no debts and no mortgage. In our industry, the MBA doesn't add any extra "prestige" like it does in finance or consulting but I wanted to pursue the degree to develop better business acumen, improve soft skills, strengthen my network, and just learn more about business.

I have absolutely no intention of leaving the program as the experience has been amazing and exceeded my expectations especially with the caliber of my cohort/class members.

My questions are:
1. Did your MBA change your career trajectory?
2. Do you think it was worth it? From a financial and personal perspective.
3. Do you still stay in touch with your cohort? Do you consider the networking piece of an MBA crucial?
4. Do you have any regrets about things you didn't do in your MBA program? For example, going on the international trip, pursuing an option, joining the finance club, more social events, etc.,
5. Do you have any advice for current/prospective MBA students?

Thanks in advance for your advice and responses.

Coloradostache

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2016, 11:02:48 AM »
I'm a mechanical engineer, 36, and completed my MBA 4 years ago.  It was an in person program, which I think is far more beneficial then online due to the discussion and interaction in class.  I made some good friends and good professional connections. 

I often get asked about it from people who are contemplating getting one as well.  Most people need to hear it was easy, didn't cost much, and that I knew what my pay increase and promotion was going to be when I completed it.  The reality is its expensive, time consuming, and nobody really knows how its going to benefit them.  I went into it with the perspective that in 10 years I'd like to be able to look back and say I wouldn't be where I am without it.  4 years out, I can say for sure it benefitted me.  I immediately got a promotion and a $15K salary increase.  That alone made the $50K investment pay off quickly. I then had other opportunities, promotions, and pay increases present themselves, and there's no way I'd have my current job if I didn't have it.  I don't feel I learned much, or use anything I learned, but its certainly opened some doors for me and helped me get ahead. 


khangaroo

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2016, 03:58:05 PM »
I'm a mechanical engineer, 36, and completed my MBA 4 years ago.  It was an in person program, which I think is far more beneficial then online due to the discussion and interaction in class.  I made some good friends and good professional connections. 

I often get asked about it from people who are contemplating getting one as well.  Most people need to hear it was easy, didn't cost much, and that I knew what my pay increase and promotion was going to be when I completed it.  The reality is its expensive, time consuming, and nobody really knows how its going to benefit them.  I went into it with the perspective that in 10 years I'd like to be able to look back and say I wouldn't be where I am without it.  4 years out, I can say for sure it benefitted me.  I immediately got a promotion and a $15K salary increase.  That alone made the $50K investment pay off quickly. I then had other opportunities, promotions, and pay increases present themselves, and there's no way I'd have my current job if I didn't have it.  I don't feel I learned much, or use anything I learned, but its certainly opened some doors for me and helped me get ahead.

Thank you Coloradostache!! This is the sort of insight I was looking for. Thank you very much for sharing.

cdttmm

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2016, 03:40:52 PM »
Yes, definitely worth it. I graduated from my MBA program in 2004. I went to school part-time, on and off, for about 5.5 years to complete it. I was fortunate in that it was 100% paid for by my employer at the time. I had no interest in studying business when I started the program, but I figured if my employer was going to pay for me to get a graduate degree, then I was going to take advantage of that perk. My MBA program was not designed as a cohort model so I didn't really become close with any of the other students, but I am still in touch with one person from one of my classes. More importantly for me, I'm still in touch with most of my professors. Getting an MBA definitely changed the trajectory of my career. I got tapped for more operations/finance related jobs within that company because I had an MBA, regardless of the fact that my degree concentration was HR management. Then, because I had ops/finance experience, I spent 18 months as the COO of a start-up. And because the associate dean of the business school had seen me present in her quantitative methods course, I got asked to join the faculty part-time as a senior lecturer for the undergraduate business program.

Very glad I completed the program. Wish I would have gone on the international trips they offered to Prague and to Beijing. Oh well, live and learn.

My advice for a current student: accounting/finance/entrepreneurship/operations knowledge and skills will give you more clout on the resume and more credibility with the C-suite executives; communications, networking, professional etiquette, and other soft skills are what will insure that you get asked to join the C-suite (if that's what you're interested in).

khangaroo

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2016, 09:02:01 PM »
Yes, definitely worth it. I graduated from my MBA program in 2004. I went to school part-time, on and off, for about 5.5 years to complete it. I was fortunate in that it was 100% paid for by my employer at the time. I had no interest in studying business when I started the program, but I figured if my employer was going to pay for me to get a graduate degree, then I was going to take advantage of that perk. My MBA program was not designed as a cohort model so I didn't really become close with any of the other students, but I am still in touch with one person from one of my classes. More importantly for me, I'm still in touch with most of my professors. Getting an MBA definitely changed the trajectory of my career. I got tapped for more operations/finance related jobs within that company because I had an MBA, regardless of the fact that my degree concentration was HR management. Then, because I had ops/finance experience, I spent 18 months as the COO of a start-up. And because the associate dean of the business school had seen me present in her quantitative methods course, I got asked to join the faculty part-time as a senior lecturer for the undergraduate business program.

Very glad I completed the program. Wish I would have gone on the international trips they offered to Prague and to Beijing. Oh well, live and learn.

My advice for a current student: accounting/finance/entrepreneurship/operations knowledge and skills will give you more clout on the resume and more credibility with the C-suite executives; communications, networking, professional etiquette, and other soft skills are what will insure that you get asked to join the C-suite (if that's what you're interested in).

Thank you for sharing cdttmm! Wow, 5.5 years! That is impressive and awesome that you did it completely free! It sounds like your MBA has provided you with amazing opportunities, and I'm also looking forward to what doors it'll open for me. Thanks again!

Bradfurd

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 07:00:25 AM »
I graduated with a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering, and after working full-time for a year, completed an MBA (2.5 yrs), part-time, in-person while still working full-time.

Although my previous employer paid for my MBA, I didn't see a change in my title/duties/salary, but I did learn a lot of invaluable skills from the program. It's also possible (I can't say for certain) that the degree helped me transition out of engineering and into project management (when I eventually took a job with a different company). I'm hopeful that having the degree will continue to pay off in the future!

Best of luck!

Heroes821

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2016, 09:58:11 AM »
I absolutely love that anytime something like this comes up in my life, someone else on this forum is asking the same questions as myself.  Thank you all for your replies even though I'm not the OP.

Frugal716

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2016, 10:01:20 AM »
I'm an early 30's finance guy who did an in person MBA about 4 years ago when I was in a more consulting kind of role. I was a part time program, but I ended up completing it in 2 years due to changing job locations, family considerations etc.

I think you are managing the risks/rewards appropriately. Keep on going if you can afford it with cash and don't get over your head by expecting a huge payoff at the end. You're still working, which eliminates the biggest cost of going back to school, foregone income. I've had this same conversation with several people and my biggest recommendation to anyone pursuing an MBA is to NOT go full-time unless it is a top tier program. So you're good there.


To your questions:

1. Did your MBA change your career trajectory?

It did, but that was not the plan initially. I didn't have much background in finance/accounting prior to the MBA, and a year after completing the program I moved into a finance role with the MBA helping secure the job. That said, if you're really interested in getting good at finance/accounting, go be a CFA charterholder. MBA classes really just scratch the surface on many topics, as I'm now finding out in a workplace surrounded by actual accountants with CPAs and CFAs.

2. Do you think it was worth it? From a financial and personal perspective.

Mine was paid for by my work, but even if I was to pay out $30k I think it would have been worth it financially. It also opened up more potential job opportunities, which helps me sleep better at night knowing I have a better chance finding the next job.

3. Do you still stay in touch with your cohort? Do you consider the networking piece of an MBA crucial?

I do not stay in touch with anyone, but that's more my fault. I'm sure I could have made better use of the network.

4. Do you have any regrets about things you didn't do in your MBA program? For example, going on the international trip, pursuing an option, joining the finance club, more social events, etc.,

I would get more involved with the social events if you can swing it. My courses were 45 minutes away from home, so once class ended at 9 pm I really wanted to hit the road. Once again, my fault and not the fault of the school/program.

5. Do you have any advice for current/prospective MBA students?

If you think you're going to do it at some point, do it now. It doesn't get any easier. I finished my program before having kids, buying a house etc and I'm really glad I did. I have some coworkers going after their MBAs with kids and home and it is a rough road.


Good luck!

Mr. Paws

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2016, 10:49:44 AM »
My questions are:
1. Did your MBA change your career trajectory?

Hard to say but I have a job that I could get without the MBA.  I got it because i was a good friend with someone working at the company and he recommended me.

2. Do you think it was worth it? From a financial and personal perspective.

Financially not really.  I dont make as much as I should be making with my degree.  I still do fine but I could be better.  Personally I think it helped some.  I feel like my critical thinking skills increased quite dramatically after the program.  I also made some good friends and I got to live in another state for a couple of years.

3. Do you still stay in touch with your cohort? Do you consider the networking piece of an MBA crucial?

I still have a handful of friends I occasionally talk to from the program.  I dont live anywhere near them though so I don't see them that often.  I havent used any of them to try and get a different job.

4. Do you have any regrets about things you didn't do in your MBA program? For example, going on the international trip, pursuing an option, joining the finance club, more social events, etc.,

I actually wished I studied harder.  I studied quite a bit but I felt like I was behind in quantitative ability. We had many engineers in the program so the quantitative and modeling portions came pretty easy to them.  I had trouble keeping up in my group work because they were engineers and moved too fast for me.  I feel like now several years later the finance and excel modeling are much easier to me with more maturity and work experience.   But since I don't work in finance and I am thinking about trying to transition to it, I have to reteach myself a lot of the material.


I also wish I had more work experience going into it.  I only had one job out of college before the program which was unrelated and didnt prepare me.  If I started the program at my age now it would be much easier.


5. Do you have any advice for current/prospective MBA students?

The teachers don't like giving bad grades typically.  The school wants everyone to get good jobs so they look better in the rankings.  Therefore, they will only give a D or below if you just completely blow off a class (we had one person do this).  I was never in this position but there were a couple of classes that I got a better grade than i deserved.

The business school seems to bend over backwards for the students instead of ignoring them which was nice.  I think we had some people take advantage of it though.  It felt like we could get away with murder (not literally) and the school would just smile.  It was a strange feeling compared to undergrad.  They also had a really large staff support system from career counselors to just assistants, regular counselors, planners all for the MBA program.

Almost everything is group work.  Try to get a good team that works together well.   Most of it is business case studies taken from real businesses.  Of course you also have exams.  Rarely do you have any individual work. I'll try to think of more later.  Since your an engineer, it will probably be easy enough for you.

Bourbon

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2016, 10:53:54 AM »
Briefly to follow, may post more in depth later -

I got my MBA ~1 ago in a 1 year cohort based program.  Already had 3 kids(youngest at 1.25 years old when I started), scholarship and employer reimbursement covered 85% of the cost. 

Was already a Director at my organization, but going through some changes so wanted some better education credentials for future advancement or other jobs down the line.  Right now it hasn't had much effect yet; was easy financially, painful from a time commitment, but it is something I put in the bank as insurance as I work towards FIRE.

trix76

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2016, 09:38:45 AM »
I did my MBA in a full-time program, and it was absolutely worth it in terms of my career trajectory, network, hard and soft skills. I went to a state school (University of Washington) and was able to pay in-state tuition, so the debt I incurred wasn't too significant, especially in comparison to the salary bump I got upon graduation.

Re: your specific questions:

1. Did your MBA change your career trajectory?
Definitely. I went into the program as a "career-switcher," so my goal in doing the MBA was to change my career trajectory, much like many of the others in the full-time program. (At my school, a lot of the part-time MBA students were looking to advance within their field or company, and the full-timers tended to be career-switchers.) I won't go into specifics here but the MBA helped me transition to a new industry and discipline that would've been hard to break into otherwise, given my pre-MBA resume.

2. Do you think it was worth it? From a financial and personal perspective.
Yes and yes. My starting salary out of business school was ~25% higher than what I was making prior, but more importantly, my compensation has steadily increased to a level I wouldn't have seen without an MBA. Obviously that depends on the field you're in, but my MBA has paid for itself several times over in terms of my salary growth. And from a personal perspective, yes as well. I learned a ton, met great people, and got into a discipline that I love. While the MBA wasn't technically necessary to do what I'm doing now, I don't think the doors would've opened for me if I didn't have it.

3. Do you still stay in touch with your cohort? Do you consider the networking piece of an MBA crucial?
Yes and yes. In fact, some of my best friends are people I met in my cohort when I moved to a new city (Seattle) to do the program. Again, this was a difference between the full-time and part-time/evening program - both were social, but the part-time/evening students had more obligations, with their day jobs, families, etc., whereas the full-time students were more immersed in the MBA program and formed really close friendships. In hindsight, the networking was actually more valuable than the content of the classes. The majority of students in my program stayed in the Seattle area, so I now have contacts seemingly everywhere in the Puget Sound business community, which is really valuable when it comes to looking for new opportunities.

4. Do you have any regrets about things you didn't do in your MBA program? For example, going on the international trip, pursuing an option, joining the finance club, more social events, etc.,
Not really. I took advantage of as much as I could, and was pretty socially active. I didn't take on a leadership role in my program and I suppose I could have, but because I studied abroad one quarter of my 2nd year, that would've been difficult. On that note, a few of my friends from the program regret not taking the opportunity to study abroad. They worried about missing some of the career fairs, being gone during fall interview season, etc., but in hindsight, those of us who did study abroad didn't seem to suffer because of our absence during that one quarter.

5. Do you have any advice for current/prospective MBA students?
I'll channel the advice our dean gave us in the first week or two of the program, which was that there are three equally important components to the MBA program: the academics, the networking, and the clubs/activities (e.g. business plan competitions, Net Impact Club, volunteering with Special Olympics, etc.). He told us, "If you're getting a 4.0 in your academics, think about whether you're neglecting the other aspects of the experience. Attending a Thursday night 'pub club' or attending the MBA tailgating event at the UW football game might seem like it's 'just' blowing off stream, but that's where you're forming the relationships that will serve you for the rest of your career." I embraced his advice and took the academics seriously, but not at the expense of the learning that happens outside of the classroom.

Hope that helps! Happy to answer any specific questions via PM.

libertarian4321

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Re: Was your MBA worth it?
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2016, 12:55:51 PM »
I'm an engineer who got my MBA in the late 80s.

The degree hasn't done a whole lot for my career, but I did take a course in investments, that got me to start investing in the stock market.  That alone made the thing worthwhile, I guess.