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, its 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. Heres 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 isnt for you. In your application essays and interview, the admissions officers will want you to demonstrate clear goals.
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At the same time, theres absolutely nothing wrong with being unsure. However, this isnt the time for an MBA. Its 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 youre 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 be looking for in you as an employee in order to consider you for your desired position. Based on that feedback, choose a program that will provide you with the background that you need.
YOU WANT TO MAKE A LATERAL TRANSFER WITHIN YOUR COMPANY
Have you taken a strong interest in an aspect of your company that isnt your current specialty? From supply chain management to human resources, the business world is becoming increasingly specialized, and an MBA can be an excellent way to more clearly define your area of expertise or provide you with the credentials that you need to move to a different department within your company.
YOU SEE GAPS IN YOUR SKILL SET THAT CANT BE BRIDGED BY EXPERIENCE ALONE
Real world experience counts in the business world as it challenges us to think innovatively and gain confidence in our skill set. However, situations can also place us in positions where we realize how much better we could have handled things if we had a stronger theoretical background. If you feel that, despite your level of experience, you simply arent approaching projects or problems in an optimal way, you might be at the right place in your career for an MBA.
LIFE HAS THROWN YOU A CURVEBALL
Maybe your company has reorganized. Maybe your spouse has received an offer for a dream job overseas. Maybe you need to move closer to home to help care for elderly parents. Sometimes big changes happen in our lives that dont mesh with our career plans. In these cases, an MBA program can be a great way to show progress and commitment to your career as you manage other aspects of your life. Be honest with the admissions officers and your future employers about what prompted you to choose an MBA. This lemons into lemonade attitude will be an asset in your interviews.