Should I get a MBA?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
gatsby11
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Should I get a MBA?

Post by gatsby11 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:03 pm

Preface: I know this is a common topic, and I've read many threads about it, but it's helpful to get personally tailored advice. I'm also far more ambitious than my parents and this is a forum I trust to get advice from fellow ambitious people who are also smart when it comes to money/career.

Background: 24 years old, graduated college with a Psychology degree from a mid-tier UC (not LA or Berkeley) a year ago, and got a job with one of the Bay Area's tech giants. Unfortunately, I'm underemployed as I was hired for customer service, although I get to do some sales/research etc. as the arm of the company I work for is still being built out so they need people to wear many different hats. I couldn't find the job that I was looking for in marketing and took this one because the company is highly prestigious, so I figured it would still be a good start with the potential to move into other areas of the company. I've done great and my bosses have talked extensively about a promotion. The problem is they want to promote me to a supervisory customer service job, whereas I see my strengths lying in strategy/decision making. Consequently I've been networking like crazy to get into a different business group, something that's possible but not a certainty. For example, I had one manager tell me I should apply to a less prestigious company while another told me he'd give me an interview as an entry-level strategy analyst.

My goals: I see myself as a great fit in marketing, as what first got me interested in psychology was behavioral economics (UC's also don't offer a business degree and I was told that majors didn't really matter). I loved psychology and took courses/read books on consumer behavior. I also think I'm great at taking in a lot of data and making decisions (also love statistics) and would be a good fit in strategy/biz dev as well.

I think the best route for me is to apply to MBA programs in 0-3 years, get an MBA, go into consulting, and then after several years there transition into marketing/strategy. Why? Well, I'm in a low position, can't get a job in the right field, and people don't respect my degree. If I could land a consulting gig I'd be getting a 100-130K raise. At the same time I feel as though I've got great capabilities and just need a foot in the door. I know it's important to get into a top 10-15 program, here are my stats:

GPA: 3.55
GMAT: ~760 (this is in the 98th-99th percentile)

Is this enough to get into a top program? Granted, I haven't taken the GMAT yet but all the practice tests from GMAC/Manhattan GMAT have had me in this range. This score is better than even the average Harvard/Stanford MBA admit. I don't have any kind of interesting work experience yet. This will either continue to be the case or I'll be able to get a entry-level marketing gig at my company or another high tech company. I also didn't have a difficult major and didn't go to a top-top school, although it's certainly better than many.

MBA's are certainly expensive, but apparently they often give scholarships based on GMAT scores and if I were to land a 130-180K gig after it seems as though it'd be worth it no matter what. Am I crazy thinking it's going be tough to distinguish myself in the next five 10 years up to a 200k+ level income by working my way up the ladder (I'm not even on the ladder really yet!) vs. going to a Ivy League or similar level MBA program? That's assuming I could get in based partly on doing fairly well in school but largely by being absurdly good at the GMAT. And if I should got to business school, should I just apply now so work experience is weighed less heavily than academic potential? Or will working another 1-3 years still help me?
Last edited by gatsby11 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

stoptothink
Posts: 4531
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by stoptothink » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:27 pm

Probably isn't going to help, but my best friend had a better GPA from a school at least as academically prestigious (and ironically in psychology), scored 770-something on the GMAT, and had 5yrs of relevant work experience (he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard). He is packing his stuff right now to move to Austin because he did get accepted to Texas. I doubt getting into a top-10 program is realistic, at least with the academic and work credentials you stated. IMO, MBAs are just like law school right now, unless you can get into an elite school it probably isn't worth it. I don't think an MBA right now would make it any easier to get into consulting than it currently is, but a few more years moving up the ladder at megacorp may open up some opportunities you hadn't even thought about.

JandNTN
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 8:26 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by JandNTN » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:30 pm

You should figure out what you want to do. Do you even know the life of a consultant? Working 80-100hrs a week for 150K is like 2 full-time 75k jobs. Also with that 150K see if you can buy time as life will pass by and you will have missed it. Find something you love and pursue that. Sounds more like you would fit into a Behavioral Econ PhD than an MBA. Just because you have a high GMAt doesn't mean they open the doors for you...you have to be someone they want.

Dopey
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:41 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Dopey » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:36 pm

stoptothink wrote:Probably isn't going to help, but my best friend had a better GPA from a school at least as academically prestigious (and ironically in psychology), scored 770-something on the GMAT, and had 5yrs of relevant work experience (he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard). He is packing his stuff right now to move to Austin because he did get accepted to Texas. I doubt getting into a top-10 program is realistic, at least with the academic and work credentials you stated. IMO, MBAs are just like law school right now, unless you can get into an elite school it probably isn't worth it. I don't think an MBA right now would make it any easier to get into consulting than it currently is, but a few more years moving up the ladder at megacorp may open up some opportunities you hadn't even thought about.
I agree. Everyone and their brother has an MBA anymore. That's leaving people that get them from the "good" schools fighting tooth and nail convincing other's that their Harvard MBA is worth more than the one someone got at the local private school in town. It probably is to the right company, but there are plenty of other companies that value the MBA experience regardless of the name brand.

The guy who got the degree at the local private school did it part time while gaining work experience and was able to get his company to pay for it, thus graduating with no debt. And as long as the local program is AACSB accredited, the curriculum is probably very similar to the big boys.

avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by avalpert » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:39 pm

I can tell you the post-MBAs we hire at my consulting firm are not getting 100-130k raises (unless they weren't making anything before). The median Harvard MBA salary for the class of 2012 was 120k. McKinsey and BCG maybe will get you that raise (if your salary is on the low side today) but getting those gigs aren't automatic at all even if you do manage to get into Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.

Most of the post-MBAs we hire were in consulting pre-MBA - its very competitive, I interview less than 10% of the MBA resumes we receive and we make offer to less than 10% of that - and we only recruit from a handful of top programs. I'm sure you are as smart as you think you are, but at that level so is everyone else - what else have you done to demonstrate your capabilities outside of your job? What's your story?

The average age for Harvard's class of '15 is 27 - if you below that average you need to have a compelling application to gain admittance. This isn't like law school where numbers are everything, what you bring from work and life experience carries a lot of weight in the top programs. Applying now won't make your work experience weight less, it will make the burden of evidence on what you have accomplished post-college higher.

It is an expensive way to try to switch careers with not a particularly high chance you will land that career switch - you will be up against a lot of people who already are experienced consultants. If marketing is what you want to be doing, you will be better served getting some experience in it first.

jimbojones
Posts: 122
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:53 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by jimbojones » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:23 pm

Check out poetsandquants.com. There are plenty of good articles on there to give you an idea of the types of people applying for the top schools and the types of people the top schools want. A good GMAT score will certainly help since it'll bring up the class average at wherever you go. However, employability post-MBA is probably what the schools look at the most. Your pre-MBA background/experience is a huge factor in the post-MBA job search. It's not like undergrad where everyone is essentially the same at the beginning.

It sounds like you have a great story to tell about how you love marketing and want to pursue that field. In order to sell that in an MBA application/interview, you need to be able to demonstrate how you've already taken steps towards that goal. The admissions folks will want to see something in your professional life that makes you stand out.

Also, consulting is not the only option. There are loads of great opportunities in brand management and general management at multinational companies. Ultimately a top MBA can open up a lot of doors, but the companies expect a whole lot more than a shiny diploma when they commit to those six-figure pay packages.

thomasbayarea
Posts: 358
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:40 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by thomasbayarea » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:39 pm

I wholeheartedly recommend against an MBA.

If you plan on staying in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley, my experience says that the MBA adds very little value. I work at a large (huge) tech company in San Jose. We never hire MBAs; even our marketing and sales people come from technical backgrounds. Almost every top managerial or executive position is filled by a formerly technical leader. Just look around at the top 20 Valley firms, how many MBAs can you count?

It is way more important to prove yourself at the job (whatever job it may be).

jcw
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:37 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by jcw » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:39 pm

Nice GPA and GMAT scores but sorry to say, you probably won't get into a Top 5 MBA program with that. Past a certain score and admissions doesn't care about it as you have passed the "smart enough" bar. You need to be amazing in other ways and you need to paint a holistic story over the last 5 years of why you are amazing and how you worked towards it. Your story needs to fit in with the schools' mission statement (ie: Harvard's is to educate leaders that make a difference in the world and Stanford is all about entrepreneurship). You CAN get into one of these schools but not now. Go do something "amazing" like create your own startup that raised $10M in series A/B funding and successfully exited -- you'd get into Stanford with that or go start your own non-profit, work at an orphanage in India and learn 3 languages (you'd get into Harvard). If you aren't amazing in other ways, you need(ed) to have fit the cookie cutter mold of the MBA type (Mckinsey Consultant or Blackstone finance).

That being said, the MBA will not necessarily get you a better job or higher paying job. It may get you an interview but you still have to be really awesome and none of those schools prepare you to do jack. My own experience was great in other ways. I got to travel to 20+ countries and meet awesome people that I'll be friends with for life. I also came out with nearly 100k in debt and making LESS money than when I went in.

FYI, I applied to both of the Top 2 schools years ago, got admitted to one and didn't even get an interview at the other... I had a worse GPA and GMAT score than you but went to top undergrad and grad (MS) schools.

gatsby11
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by gatsby11 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:21 am

stoptothink wrote:he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard). He is packing his stuff right now to move to Austin because he did get accepted to Texas. I doubt getting into a top-10 program is realistic, at least with the academic and work credentials you stated. IMO, MBAs are just like law school right now, unless you can get into an elite school it probably isn't
I totally get it being hard for me to get into a Harvard or Stanford. What about a Cornell, Duke, UCLA, or Dartmouth though? The work experience would still hold me back too much?
You should figure out what you want to do. Do you even know the life of a consultant?
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/posting ... &p=1763302#
I work 60 hours per week now for 45-50K. I'm thinking about adding a second job for more money too. I want to be in a marketing/strategy role and would be fine without being a consultant, but it certainly interests me greatly.

I also have no interest in a PhD in Economics.
I can tell you the post-MBAs we hire at my consulting firm are not getting 100-130k raises (unless they weren't making anything before).
I got the $100-130K from here: http://managementconsulted.com/consulti ... -post-mba/#

The top five consulting firms (MBB + Deloitte + Accenture) paid first-year MBA's about $180K all-in on average, which would be $130K more than my current pay.
I'm sure you are as smart as you think you are, but at that level so is everyone else - what else have you done to demonstrate your capabilities outside of your job? What's your story?
Story, hmm... In high school I didn't care a lick about school. Didn't buy a single book, didn't do homework, skipped a lot of classes, Dad told me to just worry about sports as though it were my job. I did that until a couple years into college when I realized I wasn't going to play professionally. I had been inspired by sports analytics though, and that was the first time I really had talent in any intellectual pursuit. That led to a lot of reading on econ and then behavioral econ, as I have never really had much interest for math. I loved psychology (was a research assistant and excelled in the classes) and thought it would have some relevance to marketing, but so far I've yet to have a single interview for a marketing job. All I could get interviews for were sales and service jobs.

I started looking about 4 months prior to graduation and finally accepted a crummy sales job two months after graduation because I needed some cash flow. Then two months later my current job came up only because of a random connection to a recruiter, and although it was no where near what I wanted out of a job I figured the prestige of megacorp made it worth taking. I thought my talent would shine through and let me work into something else quickly, and although I'm pretty clearly the best in my role getting another position has been slow going.

Four months ago I decided an MBA was probably the best course of action to get to a high level marketing/strategy role. About a month ago I started applying to jobs at other megacorps figuring it would be worth it to see if I could get a marketing gig with them. No calls back yet but I'll keep trying.
It is an expensive way to try to switch careers with not a particularly high chance you will land that career switch - you will be up against a lot of people who already are experienced consultants. If marketing is what you want to be doing, you will be better served getting some experience in it first.
Agreed, and I will keep trying to land a marketing role. Unfortunately, you can't even call it a career switch yet! I don't really feel as though I've started a career.
Check out poetsandquants.com. There are plenty of good articles on there to give you an idea of the types of people applying for the top schools and the types of people the top schools want. A good GMAT score will certainly help since it'll bring up the class average at wherever you go. However, employability post-MBA is probably what the schools look at the most. Your pre-MBA background/experience is a huge factor in the post-MBA job search. It's not like undergrad where everyone is essentially the same at the beginning.
I have, and I agree that it's a great site. Actually this article: http://poetsandquants.com/2012/03/27/gp ... to-get-in/

Is what first really gave me hope that I could get into a top 10-15 school. According to that what ad-coms care about the most by far is the GMAT, and of course I excel at that.
However, employability post-MBA is probably what the schools look at the most. Your pre-MBA background/experience is a huge factor in the post-MBA job search. It's not like undergrad where everyone is essentially the same at the beginning.
This is the most frustrating aspect for me. I simply haven't been given a chance to excel in any kind of serious role. I'm not sure what else I can do to make myself stand out so that someone will give me that chance.
If you plan on staying in the Bay Area / Silicon Valley, my experience says that the MBA adds very little value. I work at a large (huge) tech company in San Jose. We never hire MBAs; even our marketing and sales people come from technical backgrounds.
I will say that I absolutely cannot stand the Bay Area. I swore that I wouldn't come back here after school, but I couldn't find a job. Then lo and behold the megacorp job comes up so I felt obliged to stay even longer. I would be absolutely ecstatic to find a marketing position on the East Coast though. Agreed about the technical people in marketing backgrounds though (can't say I see it much in sales), and that's another thing that's frustrating. Do you feel that the lack of value to the MBA is specific to the Valley?
You CAN get into one of these schools but not now. Go do something "amazing" like create your own startup that raised $10M in series A/B funding and successfully exited -- you'd get into Stanford with that or go start your own non-profit, work at an orphanage in India and learn 3 languages (you'd get into Harvard). If you aren't amazing in other ways, you need(ed) to have fit the cookie cutter mold of the MBA type (Mckinsey Consultant or Blackstone finance).
So do the extracurriculars really help or is that just a nice thing for people to talk about? I love to travel and would gladly go work minimum wage or for free in India or another foreign country for the experience. One of my best friends is in Africa doing that right now. That said, that won't give me any job skills, and it will cost quite a bit of money. I can see how that becomes a negative. For example: A close family member just left the Marines, and while he did some of the coolest stuff you could imagine there, he didn't learn any civilian job skills and so if having a tough time integrating job-wise. That is the kind of thing that I am worried about with those kind of experiences.
That being said, the MBA will not necessarily get you a better job or higher paying job.
I get this kind of advice for someone who's an engineer at Microsoft, an accountant at Ernst & Young, or a banker at Morgan Stanley. The problem is I can't even land a full-blown intellectual job, let alone one of these jobs. I also see how getting an MBA makes no sense if you got a BA in business from Penn or UC Berkeley. I didn't; I have a non-marketable major from a non-notable school and I can't even seem to get a glance from these people. What I do have is the raw intelligence, interest, and work ethic. I think (possibly with more experience) I could turn that into an MBA from Yale or something similar; and all that seems to be holding me back from doubling my salary at the very least is as a piece of paper. There's also the chance I get a scholarship at one of these top schools and it doesn't cost all that much. All that said, I am totally open to just lowering my head and plowing forward to work my way into one of these companies if that is really the best option. :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

avalpert
Posts: 6313
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 4:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by avalpert » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:25 am

gatsby11 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard). He is packing his stuff right now to move to Austin because he did get accepted to Texas. I doubt getting into a top-10 program is realistic, at least with the academic and work credentials you stated. IMO, MBAs are just like law school right now, unless you can get into an elite school it probably isn't
I totally get it being hard for me to get into a Harvard or Stanford. What about a Cornell, Duke, UCLA, or Dartmouth though? The work experience would still hold me back too much?
It's not just work experience. Here are Tuck's (Dartmouth) MBA admission essay questions aside from the Why Us standard one (and even that one you betterbe able to demonstrate you understand what the school stands for and how you fit with it):
1. Tell us about your most meaningful collaborative leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?

2. Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback. What actions did you take as a result and what did you learn from this experience?
So what leadership roles have you been taking on since you graduated?
I can tell you the post-MBAs we hire at my consulting firm are not getting 100-130k raises (unless they weren't making anything before).
I got the $100-130K from here: http://managementconsulted.com/consulti ... -post-mba/#

The top five consulting firms (MBB + Deloitte + Accenture) paid first-year MBA's about $180K all-in on average, which would be $130K more than my current pay.
Right, so the top few employees at the top few firms who max out their bonuses will get to 180. Great to aspire to that (possibly, if that is the kind of person you want to be) but you shouldn't plan on it. Analyze it with the most common outcomes, not the right tail outcomes.
I'm sure you are as smart as you think you are, but at that level so is everyone else - what else have you done to demonstrate your capabilities outside of your job? What's your story?
Story, hmm... In high school I didn't care a lick about school. Didn't buy a single book, didn't do homework, skipped a lot of classes, Dad told me to just worry about sports as though it were my job. I did that until a couple years into college when I realized I wasn't going to play professionally. I had been inspired by sports analytics though, and that was the first time I really had talent in any intellectual pursuit. That led to a lot of reading on econ and then behavioral econ, as I have never really had much interest for math. I loved psychology (was a research assistant and excelled in the classes) and thought it would have some relevance to marketing, but so far I've yet to have a single interview for a marketing job. All I could get interviews for were sales and service jobs.

I started looking about 4 months prior to graduation and finally accepted a crummy sales job two months after graduation because I needed some cash flow. Then two months later my current job came up only because of a random connection to a recruiter, and although it was no where near what I wanted out of a job I figured the prestige of megacorp made it worth taking. I thought my talent would shine through and let me work into something else quickly, and although I'm pretty clearly the best in my role getting another position has been slow going.

Four months ago I decided an MBA was probably the best course of action to get to a high level marketing/strategy role. About a month ago I started applying to jobs at other megacorps figuring it would be worth it to see if I could get a marketing gig with them. No calls back yet but I'll keep trying.
Look at the essay questions I posted (and yes, for MBA admissions they matter a lot). Does this story scream leadership? Overcoming adversity? And no, going over to India for a couple of years sin't the answer either. What are your passions, what are you doing to pursue those even while you work outside of them? What involvement do you have in your community? These are the stories they are looking for.

I have, and I agree that it's a great site. Actually this article: http://poetsandquants.com/2012/03/27/gp ... to-get-in/

Is what first really gave me hope that I could get into a top 10-15 school. According to that what ad-coms care about the most by far is the GMAT, and of course I excel at that.
The GMAT/GPA is the ante - not the game itself.
Last edited by avalpert on Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

kidsgone
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:30 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by kidsgone » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:25 am

I don't have an MBA, but helped my son with his application and essays when he applied a few years ago so I learned a few things about the process. Harvard, for example, has a quota system and you should ask yourself into what box will you be placed. I once met a top 10 school's Director of Admissions on the golf course, and after a few beers and a few hours, he told me that he could fill his school with 3.75/760/Ivy League School/Wall Street Work types, but alumni keep saying don't go this route for they really liked having a diverse student mix.
Have a work experience that screams leadership so when you stand up in class the other students will be impressed with your background and tend to gravitate toward you for advice. My son had a GPA/GMAT much less than the OP's scores and got accepted to Harvard and Wharton because, in my opinion, of his unique leadership experience.

z06ray
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Jul 09, 2013 11:24 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by z06ray » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:04 am

Aacsb

I am 23 and currently in an MBA program. I think it's pointless and I still don't see much value in it. I am going to an okay school. AACSB certified. Local and only costs around 35k total. I went to a top school for undergrad and wanted to go straight through without working first. I am currently working and I take night classes. I am doing it since I live at home and have zero debt. If I weren't in the situation I would be waiting until my company paid for it.

User avatar
Hub
Posts: 394
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:56 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Hub » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:13 am

I think an MBA is worth a lot to a person without an appropriate business degree. However, I think it is most beneficial to be done in the evenings / online while working full time.

This is obviously a different situation than quit your job, go to Wharton, but still, you will gain value from it so long as you don't spend too much.
Last edited by Hub on Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Bogle101
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:14 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Bogle101 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:17 am

MBA is probably worth it for you since you did not get an undergrade degree in a business or finace. Why did you study pyschology and go into customer service as your first job? Why didn't you take or major in marketing since you have an interest in it.

Business schools want work experience not just smart people. And you didn't even go to a top undergrad program, so not sure why you think it would be plausible to get into an ivy business school.

Also, getting an MBA does not automatically translate into $180k salary.
25% S&P 500 | 25% Extended Market | 20% International | 10% REIT | 10% Sector Funds | 10% Cash

Quinn
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:11 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Quinn » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:31 am

Look into the Haas EWMBA if you see yourself living in the Bay Area for another 4-6 years. Still expensive, but you'll be able to continue working while getting the MBA. After your second year, you can take an internship at a consulting firm and go through the subsequent full-time recruiting. During your third year you may not be employed, but it'll be at a much lower cost than the full MBA program.

mamarachel
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by mamarachel » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:26 pm

To be honest, those scores mean diddly in the real world. So you can take a test! Whoopie! (not being derogatory, just pointing out that it isn't some magic formula).

Your career thus far has been lackluster, and it will prevent you from getting into an Ivy League school. You haven't been given the opportunity to shine you say... what opportunities have you MADE.

Build something first. Find a passion and build it.

gatsby11
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by gatsby11 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:29 pm

So what leadership roles have you been taking on since you graduated?
At work? Anything I can although it's nothing permanent because I'm not a manager. Outside of work? I'm not sure what you mean. What kind of things should I "take on"?
Right, so the top few employees at the top few firms who max out their bonuses will get to 180.
The final number is not that important, but check this out:

http://www7.gsb.columbia.edu/recruiters ... t_2012.pdf

The average Columbia grad that went into consulting got ~$150K. So it's not so outlandish to get a $100K raise if I were to go to a top school. Granted the marketing numbers are considerably lower, so if I went straight there that number wouldn't be realistic.
Look at the essay questions I posted (and yes, for MBA admissions they matter a lot). Does this story scream leadership? Overcoming adversity? And no, going over to India for a couple of years sin't the answer either. What are your passions, what are you doing to pursue those even while you work outside of them? What involvement do you have in your community? These are the stories they are looking for.
No, it doesn't scream leadership. Adversity? Yes, I think I've had more than my fair share of that thus far. Much more than I'd be willing to share In this setting.

Passions? Work (yes, seriously). I spend 100 hours per week between my actual job, studying for the GMAT, and looking for other jobs. I'm extremely passionate about improving my lot in life. Other than that? Sports for sure. I play sports, train/coach kids, run relays, workout, read/write about them, etc. I don't imagine schools care much about that. I love reading about politics/philosophy/psychology etc. and developing my thoughts on just about anything and everything. Travel too, although I'm too broke to do much of that now. Do they care? Again, I don't think so. What are they looking for? I volunteer some, I could volunteer more but I'm certainly not passionate about that. I'm not sure what else I could be doing on that front because I am fulfilling my passions, work excepted.

gatsby11
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by gatsby11 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:42 pm

Why did you study pyschology and go into customer service as your first job? Why didn't you take or major in marketing since you have an interest in it.
Most/All UC's don't offer a marketing major or classes. I haven't gotten even so much as a phone interview for a marketing job yet, but I will keep working at it.

I agree with all of the people who say I need much better work experience. So how? I work my butt off at megacorp, while trying to meet with at least 1-2 people every week outside my group for lunch to network. I use our career development resources. I am applying to outside jobs, although the hit rate for non-referred jobs seems really low. What else can I do to build myself? I am willing to do anything and put in whatever it takes.

mamarachel
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by mamarachel » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:50 pm

Seek out a small start up, local business, with a large upside and volunteer your services (or do some sort of pay reward on success).

Start your own gig privately. Get great at web-design, or find a talented web-designer working freelance and partner on an upstart.

Make something from nothing. Pour your soul into it. Use your extra energy on your own thing.

chocolatemuffin
Posts: 147
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:56 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by chocolatemuffin » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:51 pm

Have you considered Berkeley's part-time MBA program? I think if you can manage to get into that marketing position and finish the part-time MBA in three years (assuming you actually excel in both), then you would be in a very good position to jump to a more desirable job (like those consulting positions in a top firm).

bungalow10
Posts: 2219
Joined: Sat Apr 09, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Chicago North Shore

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by bungalow10 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:55 pm

You don't need an MBA to go into consulting. I know quite a few consultants who make 100-150k+ who don't have MBAs. Why don't you try consulting first, before you commit to the cost of another degree. You might find you love it, or you might not. Consulting is both a job and a lifestyle, some people love it, some hate it, and some find that they can do it for awhile but they burn out.

If you love it, your employer might pay for your MBA so you can bill higher consulting fees.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

Mandrale
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:55 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Mandrale » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:11 pm

Why not make out a list of what you've accomplished/improved within your current role, show it to your supervisor, and explain to him WHY and HOW you could help out another area of the business? What would make you a better candidate than ALL the other people that would apply for that position?

Use what you've done in the past for THAT company, and show why you continue to be an asset to them, and how you can become even a more influential asset.

Once you lay out that list, show them how you can help, and have them look around in other departments, if they still can't seem to help you, that might tell you something about either yourself or the company. Either way, I think that's a great start and something you haven't done yet -- Or at least have not mentioned to this point.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 19532
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:30 pm

gatsby11 wrote:I totally get it being hard for me to get into a Harvard or Stanford. What about a Cornell, Duke, UCLA, or Dartmouth though? The work experience would still hold me back too much?
You don't have enough current work experience to even think about applying yet. You sound very young and inexperienced.
You should figure out what you want to do. Do you even know the life of a consultant?
http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/posting ... &p=1763302#
I work 60 hours per week now for 45-50K. I'm thinking about adding a second job for more money too. I want to be in a marketing/strategy role and would be fine without being a consultant, but it certainly interests me greatly.
60 hours?! As a consultant, your week is just beginning - my b-i-l is a consultant, constantly on a plane,train or automobile visiting clients and that is on a global basis, he has more frequent flier miles than I can count and is away for weeks at a time. If you value family life - forget it, a consultant's life can be one of travel and that gets old quick. He makes good coin, but has more of a team leader role. It's not one that you walk into right out of grad school.
I can tell you the post-MBAs we hire at my consulting firm are not getting 100-130k raises (unless they weren't making anything before).
I got the $100-130K from here: http://managementconsulted.com/consulti ... -post-mba/#

The top five consulting firms (MBB + Deloitte + Accenture) paid first-year MBA's about $180K all-in on average, which would be $130K more than my current pay. That's not wholly-accurate. Even if you graduated Harvard tomorrow, you will not get a 130K bump first day in the role, you would have to prove yourself to justify it. You have to walk the walk, talk is cheap.
I'm sure you are as smart as you think you are, but at that level so is everyone else - what else have you done to demonstrate your capabilities outside of your job? What's your story?
Story, hmm... In high school I didn't care a lick about school. Didn't buy a single book, didn't do homework, skipped a lot of classes, Dad told me to just worry about sports as though it were my job. I did that until a couple years into college when I realized I wasn't going to play professionally. I had been inspired by sports analytics though, and that was the first time I really had talent in any intellectual pursuit. That led to a lot of reading on econ and then behavioral econ, as I have never really had much interest for math. I loved psychology (was a research assistant and excelled in the classes) and thought it would have some relevance to marketing, but so far I've yet to have a single interview for a marketing job. All I could get interviews for were sales and service jobs.

I started looking about 4 months prior to graduation and finally accepted a crummy sales job two months after graduation because I needed some cash flow. Then two months later my current job came up only because of a random connection to a recruiter, and although it was no where near what I wanted out of a job I figured the prestige of megacorp made it worth taking. I thought my talent would shine through and let me work into something else quickly, and although I'm pretty clearly the best in my role getting another position has been slow going.

Four months ago I decided an MBA was probably the best course of action to get to a high level marketing/strategy role. About a month ago I started applying to jobs at other megacorps figuring it would be worth it to see if I could get a marketing gig with them. No calls back yet but I'll keep trying.

If someone asks you this question in an interview, please do not say: a) I accepted a crummy sales job - it's of poor taste to say so and your inexperience will come shining through. No one is going to offer you the corner office with the picture window - to get there you have to work your way up and that sometimes means taking lemons and turning it into lemonade. b) I thought my talent would shine through and let me work into something else quickly - most megacorps have so many layers of bureaucracy that movement can feel nearly imperceptible, it's more like an aircraft carrier as opposed to a more nimble destroyer or carrier, it doesn't turn on a dime. If you want to move into something quickly, that requires you to take some real risk and work for a start-up that is experiencing rapid growth. Of course, that may require working for equity scrip paper or very little pay. How do you feel about working as a temp to perm position for minimum wage? I know of a few folks who went that route, impressed the employer and moved up the ranks. You stated there were two managers who have informally made offers or gestures towards an opportunity - take it!
It is an expensive way to try to switch careers with not a particularly high chance you will land that career switch - you will be up against a lot of people who already are experienced consultants. If marketing is what you want to be doing, you will be better served getting some experience in it first.
Agreed, and I will keep trying to land a marketing role. Unfortunately, you can't even call it a career switch yet! I don't really feel as though I've started a career.
A friend of mine made a transition from a finance role into a marketing role. How? by completely uprooting to another city to take an entry level role with a travel company whose sole survival was based on the ability to market to retail consumers. After a 3 year stint doing that, took the GMAT and went to grad school for marketing in CA, followed by a job with a consumer products giant as a brand manager - the rest is history. It can be done, but you need a strategy first and change in thinking.
Check out poetsandquants.com. There are plenty of good articles on there to give you an idea of the types of people applying for the top schools and the types of people the top schools want. A good GMAT score will certainly help since it'll bring up the class average at wherever you go. However, employability post-MBA is probably what the schools look at the most. Your pre-MBA background/experience is a huge factor in the post-MBA job search. It's not like undergrad where everyone is essentially the same at the beginning.

Is what first really gave me hope that I could get into a top 10-15 school. According to that what ad-coms care about the most by far is the GMAT, and of course I excel at that.
However, employability post-MBA is probably what the schools look at the most. Your pre-MBA background/experience is a huge factor in the post-MBA job search. It's not like undergrad where everyone is essentially the same at the beginning.
This is the most frustrating aspect for me. I simply haven't been given a chance to excel in any kind of serious role. I'm not sure what else I can do to make myself stand out so that someone will give me that chance.
So do the extracurriculars really help or is that just a nice thing for people to talk about? I love to travel and would gladly go work minimum wage or for free in India or another foreign country for the experience. One of my best friends is in Africa doing that right now. That said, that won't give me any job skills, and it will cost quite a bit of money. I can see how that becomes a negative. For example: A close family member just left the Marines, and while he did some of the coolest stuff you could imagine there, he didn't learn any civilian job skills and so if having a tough time integrating job-wise. That is the kind of thing that I am worried about with those kind of experiences.

Really? How about joining the Peace Corp, teaching English to a small village of poor Africans? You want a marketing job, a serious one? What could be of more value than being able to translate your abiliities - marketing and teaching English or other skills to a village of people in a 3rd world country? The skills are transferable and if marketing is where you want to go - I can see this being a great interview conversation.
What I do have is the raw intelligence, interest, and work ethic.
Keep knocking on doors.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

WendyW
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:01 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by WendyW » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:38 pm

stoptothink wrote:Probably isn't going to help, but my best friend had a better GPA from a school at least as academically prestigious (and ironically in psychology), scored 770-something on the GMAT, and had 5yrs of relevant work experience (he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard).
MBA programs evaluate applicants on a number of factors beyond GMAT and GPA:

* GMAT score
* Undergrad GPA
* Essays
* Interview
* Letters of recommendations
* Experience / Resume
* Extracurricular Activities
* Age / Race / Gender

No matter how good your GMAT is, if your essays or interview or whatever are poor, you are going to get rejected from Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/etc.

stoptothink
Posts: 4531
Joined: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:53 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:22 pm

WendyW wrote:
stoptothink wrote:Probably isn't going to help, but my best friend had a better GPA from a school at least as academically prestigious (and ironically in psychology), scored 770-something on the GMAT, and had 5yrs of relevant work experience (he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard).
MBA programs evaluate applicants on a number of factors beyond GMAT and GPA:

* GMAT score
* Undergrad GPA
* Essays
* Interview
* Letters of recommendations
* Experience / Resume
* Extracurricular Activities
* Age / Race / Gender

No matter how good your GMAT is, if your essays or interview or whatever are poor, you are going to get rejected from Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/etc.
That was kinda the point of my post, along with more impressive academic credentials, my best friend had far more impressive work experience and a great story (grew up on a potato farm in a town of less than 200 people in rural Idaho, 2yrs on a church mission in Tokyo, and has spent the last 5yrs being transferred all over the country as he moved up the ladder at a huge investment firm) and still did not get into a top-5 program. Based on what the OP told us, a slot in an Ivy program just wasn't very realistic; not to mention the idea of what that MBA would do to change their career track. Seems to be a common theme with recent graduates, when I don't know what to do, just sign up for more education.

OP sounds like a very intelligent and driven person, but I think they have unrealistic expectations and are overlooking opportunities right in front of them.

Perpetual
Posts: 112
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:56 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Perpetual » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:32 pm

gatsby11 wrote: 24 years old, graduated college with a Psychology degree from a mid-tier UC (not LA or Berkeley) a year ago
I see my strengths lying in strategy/decision making.
I don't mean to sound harsh, but you're 24 years old, you went to a mid-tier UC and you have one year of work experience. What "strengths" do you think you possess in strategy and decision-making?

Strength comes from knowledge and experience. Last time I checked, psychology education does not teach business strategy, and the only thing a year's worth of work experience does is distinguish you a bit from new grads.

If I were you, I would accept the supervisory position at your current customer service department. As a supervisor you'd gain management and decision-making experience, and if the decisions you make are good then you could put them on your resume to propel yourself further in your career.

DGE
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:47 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by DGE » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:19 pm

bungalow10 wrote:You don't need an MBA to go into consulting. I know quite a few consultants who make 100-150k+ who don't have MBAs. Why don't you try consulting first, before you commit to the cost of another degree. You might find you love it, or you might not. Consulting is both a job and a lifestyle, some people love it, some hate it, and some find that they can do it for awhile but they burn out.

If you love it, your employer might pay for your MBA so you can bill higher consulting fees.
I've been a lurker on this forum for some time, and this thread compelled me to finally sign up so that I could provide some insight the OP will hopefully listen to.

I agree with what bungalow said. There are plenty of smaller consulting companies you should be able to at least get interviews with. Plus, if you land a job with one of these companies, you'll have an opportunity to leave megacorp and move somewhere else.

Yes, getting a gig at McKinsey, Bain or BCG is going to pay really well, but the hours and expectations can at times be unrealistic and extremely demanding. Even landing a job at these big name firms is next to impossible unless you know somebody or you're coming out of one of the schools they prefer to do recruiting from AND you're at the top of your graduating class. The alternative route is getting in with a "smaller" consulting company, where the pay is still decent, and you can gain valuable real life experience. Once you have a solid 4-5 years under your belt and a lot of experience to show for it, making the leap to one of the "big dog firms" isn't so tough. Most consulting companies (Deloitte, PWC, E&Y, KPMG, BCG, Bain, McKinsey, etc.) never start new grads at the Consultant Level. They'll break you in and train you for a year or two by placing you in an Analyst Role where you'll support various Consulting teams. It's part of climbing the ladder.

I know how the industry works since I've been working in it for last two years. Right out of college I started as an Analyst and learned A LOT. I just wrapped up my second year and recently got promoted to the Consultant Level. If you prove yourself and make a name for yourself within giant the pool of analysts, then you'll not only see a substantial raise from the Analyst to Consultant level, but you'll have project directors asking for you to be placed on their teams.

In short, look around for various consulting companies where you can get your foot in the door. You don't need an MBA to start out as an Analyst, and if you get with the right company, they'll help pay for your MBA while you work and gain real consulting experience.

gatsby11
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 1:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by gatsby11 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:09 pm

I really appreciate all of the replies so far!

I will get to a few of the other posts that I've neglected, but the consulting posts piqued my interest.

What kind of firms are you guys talking about? I'd love to apply, I didn't know there was a non-MBA route into consulting for someone like me. I don't know much about smaller names in the industry but if you could let me know I'll get on it tonight. I'd be happy to start at the analyst level, especially if it let me move out of the Bay Area. Also, is there a better way to attack going after a job than applying online, assuming you don't have a connection?

coacher
Posts: 64
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:52 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by coacher » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:12 pm

I am a "Top 5 Program" MBA who graduated 20+ years ago. Before going further I strongly suggest you not try to make this a pure cost/benefit decision yet (that process will come if/when you get admitted to a reputable program), but rather list for yourself what an ideal workday/job would be that would make you happy. I have worked in consulting for example and though I found the job intellectually stimulating at times, I often found myself judging performing very "un Bogle-like" type work (i.e., behaving much like a commissioned financial planner; now as a Marketing Exec I tend to steer clear of giving contracts even to big name firms like McKinsey and BCG). On the corporate side, however, one must feel comfortable with managing large teams and taking responsibility for people's livelihoods. Is that you? Or is it really the analytical side you find appealing? The MBA may be right for you or it may not provide the focus you desire. Take some more time doing this and the options you might consider to improve your standard of living will become clearer. Good luck.

WendyW
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:01 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by WendyW » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:18 am

gatsby11 wrote:Granted, I haven't taken the GMAT yet but all the practice tests from GMAC/Manhattan GMAT have had me in this range.
I missed this part.

TAKE THE ACTUAL GMAT.

You can't get into any school with with just an optimistic self-estimate of how you might perform.

DGE
Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:47 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by DGE » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:28 am

gatsby11 wrote:I really appreciate all of the replies so far!

I will get to a few of the other posts that I've neglected, but the consulting posts piqued my interest.

What kind of firms are you guys talking about? I'd love to apply, I didn't know there was a non-MBA route into consulting for someone like me. I don't know much about smaller names in the industry but if you could let me know I'll get on it tonight. I'd be happy to start at the analyst level, especially if it let me move out of the Bay Area. Also, is there a better way to attack going after a job than applying online, assuming you don't have a connection?
Quick google search:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ma ... ting_firms
http://www.stormscape.com/inspiration/w ... ing-firms/

I'd say besides the top 3 listed in the stormscape link, the rest will/do hire non-MBA grads into their Analyst development programs.

Quinn
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:11 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by Quinn » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:54 am

DGE wrote:
gatsby11 wrote:I really appreciate all of the replies so far!

I will get to a few of the other posts that I've neglected, but the consulting posts piqued my interest.

What kind of firms are you guys talking about? I'd love to apply, I didn't know there was a non-MBA route into consulting for someone like me. I don't know much about smaller names in the industry but if you could let me know I'll get on it tonight. I'd be happy to start at the analyst level, especially if it let me move out of the Bay Area. Also, is there a better way to attack going after a job than applying online, assuming you don't have a connection?
Quick google search:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ma ... ting_firms
http://www.stormscape.com/inspiration/w ... ing-firms/

I'd say besides the top 3 listed in the stormscape link, the rest will/do hire non-MBA grads into their Analyst development programs.
The top 3 also hire non-MBA's to Analyst/JC. A lot of networking and case interview practice is required from a non-target school with a non-target major.

ssquared87
Posts: 755
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:54 am

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by ssquared87 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:03 am

WendyW wrote:
stoptothink wrote:Probably isn't going to help, but my best friend had a better GPA from a school at least as academically prestigious (and ironically in psychology), scored 770-something on the GMAT, and had 5yrs of relevant work experience (he's a CFP for one of the largest investment firms in the world), and he did not get into his top 2 choices (Wharton and Harvard).
MBA programs evaluate applicants on a number of factors beyond GMAT and GPA:

* GMAT score
* Undergrad GPA
* Essays
* Interview
* Letters of recommendations
* Experience / Resume
* Extracurricular Activities
* Age / Race / Gender

No matter how good your GMAT is, if your essays or interview or whatever are poor, you are going to get rejected from Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/etc.
I'm making a similar choice at the moment, you are correct. The GMAT score is only part of it. The admissions office wants to see that you know what an MBA can do for you, and why their program is better suited to your goals than another MBA. They need to be sure that you understand the benefits of an MBA and are not just getting it for the sake of getting it.

Also, you need to be passionate about the programs you are applying to. They know that you are applying to multiple programs, but admissions officers want to be reasonably sure that you will go to their program if they accept you. This is because they need to keep the yield up. If they accept 1,000 students and 750 enroll, then their yield is 75%

WendyW
Posts: 341
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:01 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by WendyW » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:34 am

ssquared87 wrote:Also, you need to be passionate about the programs you are applying to. They know that you are applying to multiple programs, but admissions officers want to be reasonably sure that you will go to their program if they accept you. This is because they need to keep the yield up. If they accept 1,000 students and 750 enroll, then their yield is 75%
Great point.

Schools try really hard to avoid making offers to candidates that aren't going to accept, as these yield numbers are closely following by the magazines that do rankings.

For this reason, a really strong candidate from Boston might get accepted at Harvard and MIT, and then rejected at Duke and Michigan -- because those schools know that the candidate is unlikely to accept.

ColdBlue
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 5:19 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by ColdBlue » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:26 pm

Don't waste your money on that tuition bubble.

What does a person having an MBA mean? Nothing. Just another one of the sheep. Hell most of them probably don't even know what an index fund is.

I'm 26 and I'm a senior systems analyst at a Fortune 25 company. Do I have a graduate degree? No. Heck my undergraduate degree is from a no-name public university, and I have an awesome 2 something GPA in the liberal arts field. My coworkers, my boss, and even some directors here don't even have undergraduate degrees.

So what am I saying? Learn something on your own. Become really good at it. Sell yourself. Automate tasks at your current job and get recognized for example. Be creative.

dotnet
Posts: 52
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 1:39 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by dotnet » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:23 pm

There isn't one way to do anything. If you work hard and make opportunities for yourself you can get to where you want to go from a hundred different paths.

So getting an MBA can do nothing for you... or it can be amazing. There are countless stories of both.

harrychan
Posts: 1424
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:37 pm
Location: Pasadena

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by harrychan » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:03 am

I came through this cross road 5 years back and decided against getting an MBA and I'm glad I made this decision. I currently work for a large UK company with over 20,000 employees. I was selected into the executive leadership track and got a lot of insight from my mentor and HR talent rep regarding the executives at the company. One of which was that less than 25% of the company's executives have any sort of master's degree. This tells me that I do not necessarily need a master's degree to be successful at my current company. I think an MBA will help most when you try to get hired at another company. 2nd issue is cost. If I were to go to a MBA program, I would aim for Stanford, Anderson (UCLA) or Marshall (USC). On avg, it would likely go for $100k or more. I would have to incur that debt to make non-guaranteed future income. Just doesn't seem worth it. I now make over $120k with only a bachelor degree in electrical engineer primarily because of my technical experience combined with leadership skills. I was a technical manager but am now head of the whole department. One other point is that I eventually want to start my own business which would a MBA may not help much.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

cheesepep
Posts: 787
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:58 pm

Re: Should I get a MBA?

Post by cheesepep » Thu Aug 01, 2013 2:54 am

I enrolled in an MBA program for 1 quarter before dropping because I thought it was useless. The concepts were really simple, all common sense ideas. The students were all idiots (in my humble opinion). I'm glad that I did drop. I make good money now and work very few hours.

I also did something similar for law school. Also, happy with this decision although I did take the LSATs three times....

Post Reply