Yeah, there’s been uncertainty about the economy for a while now. And yeah, you hear people saying that getting a college degree isn’t as valuable as it used to be. And maybe you’re thinking, is getting an MBA even worth it?
Yes. Absolutely yes. And here’s why…
1. Network. “The long term argument.”
Meet amazing people who will help you in ways you can’t even imagine today. People in all kinds of businesses that may well, one day, be useful to your own business. For example, one time I was asked by a friend to help them raise money for a movie he was making. I thought to myself, “Why not?” I mean, nobody from HBS is so big in the movie business—we’re in Boston, don’t have any entertainment classes, etc. Then one quick click online, and I saw that TONS of CEOs of HUGE ENTERNAINMENT companies are HBS alums. HBO, MGM Goldwyn, AMC—literally within a day of checking the HBS database, I was (true story) on the phone with the CEO of AMC Theaters. The network is INSANE.
When will you ever be surrounded by so many amazing people, in one room, ever again? LEARN from them. Not just in terms of “I now know executives in every major company in the US,” but also in terms of benefiting from the experiences (shared during class, and outside class) of your peers. They have done amazing things—learn from them. Especially if they’re from OTHER fields than yours… after all, you already know about YOUR field. Learn from your peers from OTHER areas.
We don’t talk much about friendship in business school applications, do we? Well, we should. If you surround yourself with hundreds of folks like you—similar hopes, dreams, skills, etc.–you will perhaps forge lasting, lifelong friendships. Think about it—two choices: stay at your current job with your current friends, or meet 900 new people, driven like you. Pick two—develop your PERSONAL network, which is really just code for “go out and make new, amazing friends.” B-school’s a great place for that.
2. Land a sweet job right upon graduation. “The short-term argument.”
Some great companies hire only MBAs. Neither of the two jobs I had directly after school hire anyone but MBAs, and some only hire MBAs from top-tier schools. At that point, of course, it is just a numbers game, but if you are interested in certain companies (McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, for example), you will only be hired (or promoted past a certain level) if you have an MBA.
If you want to change careers, a good MBA may be like Obi-Wan Kenobi… your only hope. Imagine you work in HR for an investment banking company, and you get a resume from someone in the non-profit space. “Does this person have any relevant experience? No? Well, let’s go to the next resume.” Now if that same person comes to HR, but has a high-powered MBA, majoring in corporate finance, perhaps leader of the corporate finance club, and perhaps even with a summer internship in banking…NOW that guy has a shot. But only with the internship, and only with the MBA. Career changes are ALWAYS difficult, but MBAs, when used in a savvy way, can make it possible directly after school.
Your MBA program’s Career Services will introduce you to companies you’d never even know existed, to apply to. All companies come recruiting for smart, talented (and relatively cheap) young MBAs. By simply fingering through the lists of companies that come recruiting (including ours, for example) you will be exposed to countless new companies, even entire fields that you would have never otherwise looked at. This is a great chance to brush up on your interviewing skills, as well as, of course, the chance to find yourself in an unexpected but promising new area.
3. Life’s a journey.
Go to a new city, man. It’s just… cool. Even a new country to study. When’s your next chance gonna be to do it? Pick up and move for two years to Boston if you’re from Texas. Move to Texas if you’re from Boston, to LA if you’re from NYC, and so on. Spend a year in Barcelona! This is a free look at a new city, a new lifestyle, and perhaps a new future for you. Take it—such chances often come only once in a lifetime. And by the way, meet PEOPLE from different cities, countries, and industries. Countries especially—business becomes increasingly global every year. This is the best way to learn about yourself—by surrounding yourself with, well, “others.” And the best businessmen are the ones who know themselves—their strengths, weaknesses, and passions—the best.
Take two years off. When’s your next chance to take two years away from work, and magically after you return…get a pay raise? At b-school, you can travel to far away countries, bounce new ideas off of exciting new people (not just at the b-school, but even elsewhere in the university, in the world), and…see what happens. This is your chance to shake things up a bit. And to get rewarded for the two-year vacation, with a higher salary, two years later. Life is a journey, folks; there is a TON of upside here, who KNOWS where you will find yourself after two years. And the downside, in contrast, is relatively nil.
Perhaps the most valuable tool you will take with you along this soul-searching journey, will be your newly-minted, instantly credible pedigree. In five years time, ten years even, who knows where your journey may take you? One thing’s for sure… having this degree under your belt will work in your favor. No matter what you want to do, whether work as a doctor, lawyer, supplier, service provider, banker, consultant… you name it. It is all, at some point, a business. Leaders in all these fields will always respect the opinions and backgrounds of credible, respected businessmen. After all, business is just code for “leadership,” anyway. So with an MBA, you can be credible, even a leader, in ANY field. What an amazing weapon this credibility will be for you, as you expand your horizons, and travel on along your increasingly exciting lifelong journey.