Is getting an MBA the right move for you?

Whether you definitely want to pursue an MBA at some point in your career or are trying to decide if enrolling in an MBA program is the right path for you, it’s important to know the ideal times in your career to join an MBA program. Jumping in too early can place you in the awkward position of being overqualified educationally while simultaneously being underqualified professionally. Waiting too long can stall your career momentum and lower your career earnings and potential. Here’s how to determine whether the time is right. YOU HAVE CLEAR GOALS Dreaming of something bigger in your career but not sure what? Want to gain more systematic knowledge but not sure where you want to focus? Unless and until you can answer these questions, an MBA program probably isn’t for you. In your application essays and interview, the admissions officers will want you to demonstrate clear goals. RELATED: How to craft the perfect LinkedIn profile in 30 minutes At the same time, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being unsure. However, this isn’t the time for an MBA. It’s time to explore. If this is your situation, you might want to ask your employer if you can do a rotation in another department. Educationally, you can pursue a certificate program, which can enhance your resume and expose you to the MBA environment with a lower investment of time and money. YOU HAVE REACHED A PLATEAU IN YOUR CAREER If you can see the writing on the wall that you’re not going to be able to move up in your career unless you improve your education credentials, this is an excellent time to begin researching MBA programs. Reach out to your supervisor and ask what the company would...

Why Consulting Is a Revolving Door for MBAs

Of all the industries MBAs could end up in, the largest single chunk of them flock to one: consulting. But Bloomberg data show that they’re not likely to stick with it. Even though consulting is the most popular of the three industries that claimed the majority of business school graduates this spring (financial services and technology are the other two), it’s also the one MBAs are most likely to move on from a few years later. For its 2015 ranking of business schools, Bloomberg surveyed more than 12,700 alumni of full-time MBA programs and found that only 37 percent of those who had gone into consulting after graduation were still working in the field six to eight years later. That’s the lowest retention rate of any industry in the survey. Finance and tech jobs had a comparatively better hold on B-schoolers: 73 percent of students who graduated into finance jobs stayed in finance, and 72 percent of grads who got technology jobs did so. “Consulting firms know that the young talent they work so hard to lure in with all the perks and travel and flexibility will probably leave sooner rather than later,” said Tony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education & the Workforce. “It’s not a world anymore where the employers are going to take care of you. Everyone is a free agent today.” The fact that MBAs seem to treat consulting as a strategic but short-term stop on their career journey isn’t necessarily hurting the industry. In fact, unless an employee is on track to become a partner, she may be more beneficial to the firm when she leaves. “Many consulting firms have resources in place to help individuals make transitions and keep extremely...

Why does the MBA degree remain popular?

The obituary of the MBA degree has been written several times since the 1950s. As the Economist has pointed out, a Ford Foundation report in the 1950s criticized the degree for being weak and irrelevant. In the 1980s, Business Week complained that MBA graduates relied excessively on mathematical models of management and worse, they expected to reach the top of their organizations with unrealistic rapidity. In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, many observers—including Harvard Business School professor Rakesh Khurana—commented on what Khurana called the “unfulfilled promise of management as a profession.” Even so, despite all these jeremiads suggesting that the end of the MBA degree is nigh, this degree continues to be popular. Why is this the case? Let us investigate. The first point has everything to do with dollars and cents. Since it typically takes at most two years to complete the MBA degree, relative to the financial benefits of a college education only, the MBA is the fastest way to increase one’s salary, sometimes by a significant amount. For instance, data and rankings produced by the Economist show that by attending the Booth Business School at the University of Chicago, which is currently the top-ranked business school, one can increase one’s pre-MBA salary by 73 percent. Attendance at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University—ranked No. 20 in the world—increases one’s pre-MBA salary by a whopping 86 percent. The point to grasp is straightforward: Relative to the monetary and time costs, the rewards from a MBA degree, particularly one from a top business school, are substantial. Second, in this era of globalization, the MBA degree is portable across national boundaries in a way that medical and law degrees, for instance, are...

7 books every MBA should read before they look for a job...

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have spent my summer in Palo Alto, California, interning on the data science team at Wealthfront, a startup innovating in the financial services sector. I learned an incredible amount over those 12 weeks, not only about the job I was doing but about the many other areas of our business that are crucial to building a world class company. And while I had fantastic resources and opportunities to learn about startups and hypergrowth companies during my first year through Wharton and Wharton FinTech, living and working in Silicon Valley showed me that there is so much that goes into making a successful technology company that my peers and I don’t get exposure to as MBA students. Working with world class designers, engineers, product managers and the rest of my colleagues over the summer gave me a sense for where some of these gaps in my knowledge were. The many conversations I had with my Wealthfront teammates over Blue Bottle Coffee in downtown Palo Alto gave me insight into what they do every day and where I can learn more. And because Wealthfront is led by executives from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Greylock, and many other Silicon Valley institutions  —  people who have built and invested in billion dollar businesses  —  I felt I had to take full advantage of their knowledge. So I also reached out directly to them to get recommendations on the best places to read about their respective domains from the perspective of someone without specific knowledge of their role and how they think. As a result, I’ve put together what I now call the MBA Startup Reading List: a collection of books (and a few blog posts) that constitute the...

MBA Hiring is Finally Recovering From the Recession...

Demand is up worldwide, and not just in the usual industries. Great news for the graduate business school class of 2015: The job market for candidates with MBA degrees, sleepy for the past eight years, is waking up. Openings for B-school grads have risen 26% in the U.S. and Canada since the beginning of last year, and 18% in Asia, says career site QS TopMBA’s latest annual report. That surprised even the researchers, who had forecast MBA job growth in those regions at just 8% and 9% respectively. “We didn’t anticipate quite how confident a mood MBA employers seem to be in,” says Mansoor Iqbal, the TopMBA editor who led the study, which covers 3,952 employers in 80 countries. Hiring at U.S. financial and consulting firms, where most MBAs have traditionally gravitated, is finally bouncing back, but that’s not all: Employers in tech and engineering, manufacturing, hospitality, and education are recruiting more MBAs these days, too. “Pharmaceutical makers, sleeping giants in recent years, have also upped MBA hiring levels,” Iqbal notes, “though not quite to the levels of the pre-recession boom years.” Despite the increase in demand, MBA pay has stayed pretty much the same in four out of six regions surveyed, including the U.S. “Only the Middle East and Asia bucked the trend,” the report notes, “with overall compensation increasing by 15% and 11% respectively.” Even so, MBAs in North America are still the world’s best paid, at an average annual salary-plus-bonus of $123,400. Western Europe, where hiring has gone up a relatively modest 9% since 2013, comes in second, with total yearly pay of $111,100. Read full story:...