1/21/12

For those of you on this forum who attended a top 20 MBA school 5-15 years ago, I was curious to know your opinion on what the MBA did for you, how you feel about your decision to go, how it defined/impacted your life, and whether you would be any less happy/satisfied with your overall place in life had you not attended.

The reason I ask is because after speaking to a number of people, they indicated how prior to MBA school, your career is EVERYTHING....but later on in life, after your MBA, after marriage+kids, you realize that you really don't care as much about having the greatest job in the world, you just want to have a low stress job, be home in time for dinner, never travel for work, spend weekends coaching your son's little league team, etc...
...Many of these people, after just a few years doing something with prestige&money (strategy consulting/ibanking/hedge funds/pe) quickly shifted from their 200k+ a year salary jobs, to a simple corporate job earning 150k, where the stress is low, working from home a few days a week is acceptable, summer fridays...etc. They drive acuras and honda minivans, not a porsche 911, and live in suburbs in 500k-700k homes, not mega-mansions. At the end of the day, they realized that having a ton of money, working crazy hours, spending so many nights away from their significant others, wasn't worth it. The jobs they hold now, are no different than the ones many "ordinary" people would have obtained with or without a fancy MBA degree.

I was curious to know if others could share their perspective who are at a similar stage of life after their MBA. I feel so many of us on this forum have this unrealistic expectation of what a "great" degree and a "great" job is going to do for our lives.

Comments (26)

1/21/12

There is definitely some truth to this. I guess it also depends when you get your MBA. If you get it when you are close to 40 then it seems like your reasoning would make sense. On the other hand if you get it in late 20s ...the better job prospects will probably make your family very happy for a decade. And you reach the 40s you can decide on your work intensity having already taking full advantage of the better job that you with a help of an MBA.

Do what you want not what you can!

Financial Modeling

1/21/12

Many people comment that the hellish hours of iBD or years consulting post MBA are just to launch into your solid well paying job in middle management of a f500 doing corp strat or dev

1/22/12
shorttheworld:

Many people comment that the hellish hours of iBD or years consulting post MBA are just to launch into your solid well paying job in middle management of a f500 doing corp strat or dev

can't you get straight into F500 corp dev or strat jobs coming out of top MBA? Or, do you really have to do IB or consulting to get to middle management at F500?

1/21/12

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

1/22/12
runningcitylikediddy:

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

Child. The point of being "rich" is to be able to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones on your own terms; And if you can do that without "almost dying trying to be rich", why not?

I haven't done my MBA yet. I'm applying to full time programmes at the moment. Personally, I think it makes sense to do an executive MBA / part time MBA at a top school if you've decided that you would like to live a more balanced life and are already on the right track. I have friends who have done this at both LBS & Columbia and they're doing fine.

Nearly all of the people I know who have done top MBAs more than 10 years ago are making a lot more than $150k a year. Even those outside of investment banking / investments (some are in real estate or are working internationally so that probably skews the $ upwards). I'd say most of them are enjoying their lives in terms of work/life balance (with the exception of a couple of highly strung banking MDs).

Also. Some people get knocked out of high paying career paths and then realise that they can enjoy the $150k - 200k lifestyles.

1/22/12
Relinquis:
runningcitylikediddy:

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

Child. The point of being "rich" is to be able to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones on your own terms; And if you can do that without "almost dying trying to be rich", why not?

I haven't done my MBA yet. I'm applying to full time programmes at the moment. Personally, I think it makes sense to do an executive MBA / part time MBA at a top school if you've decided that you would like to live a more balanced life and are already on the right track. I have friends who have done this at both LBS & Columbia and they're doing fine.

Nearly all of the people I know who have done top MBAs more than 10 years ago are making a lot more than $150k a year. Even those outside of investment banking / investments (some are in real estate or are working internationally so that probably skews the $ upwards). I'd say most of them are enjoying their lives in terms of work/life balance (with the exception of a couple of highly strung banking MDs).

Also. Some people get knocked out of high paying career paths and then realise that they can enjoy the $150k - 200k lifestyles.

+1

As an aside, I remember one of the bankers I cold-called while trying to break in had an interesting story. I'm not sure how he did it, but he attended Booth part-time (he attended class during the weekend; worked during the week) while his company paid half of the tuition. The catch? He worked in New York, and therefore flew to Chicago every single weekend for the two year period. Most of the money he made from his job was just to cover the plane tickets. He said the only thing different about his experience was he felt somewhat left out from student activities. Everything else (alumni network, branding, recruitment) was his. Ridiculous.

1/22/12
Culcet:
Relinquis:
runningcitylikediddy:

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

Child. The point of being "rich" is to be able to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones on your own terms; And if you can do that without "almost dying trying to be rich", why not?

I haven't done my MBA yet. I'm applying to full time programmes at the moment. Personally, I think it makes sense to do an executive MBA / part time MBA at a top school if you've decided that you would like to live a more balanced life and are already on the right track. I have friends who have done this at both LBS & Columbia and they're doing fine.

Nearly all of the people I know who have done top MBAs more than 10 years ago are making a lot more than $150k a year. Even those outside of investment banking / investments (some are in real estate or are working internationally so that probably skews the $ upwards). I'd say most of them are enjoying their lives in terms of work/life balance (with the exception of a couple of highly strung banking MDs).

Also. Some people get knocked out of high paying career paths and then realise that they can enjoy the $150k - 200k lifestyles.

+1

As an aside, I remember one of the bankers I cold-called while trying to break in had an interesting story. I'm not sure how he did it, but he attended Booth part-time (he attended class during the weekend; worked during the week) while his company paid half of the tuition. The catch? He worked in New York, and therefore flew to Chicago every single weekend for the two year period. Most of the money he made from his job was just to cover the plane tickets. He said the only thing different about his experience was he felt somewhat left out from student activities. Everything else (alumni network, branding, recruitment) was his. Ridiculous.

This is very interesting. I'm considering doing a booth part-time if i can't get into M7 full-time. Part-timers get access to ocr after 1 year but unsure how much success they have in getting jobs through it.

1/22/12
Culcet:
Relinquis:
runningcitylikediddy:

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

Child. The point of being "rich" is to be able to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones on your own terms; And if you can do that without "almost dying trying to be rich", why not?

I haven't done my MBA yet. I'm applying to full time programmes at the moment. Personally, I think it makes sense to do an executive MBA / part time MBA at a top school if you've decided that you would like to live a more balanced life and are already on the right track. I have friends who have done this at both LBS & Columbia and they're doing fine.

Nearly all of the people I know who have done top MBAs more than 10 years ago are making a lot more than $150k a year. Even those outside of investment banking / investments (some are in real estate or are working internationally so that probably skews the $ upwards). I'd say most of them are enjoying their lives in terms of work/life balance (with the exception of a couple of highly strung banking MDs).

Also. Some people get knocked out of high paying career paths and then realise that they can enjoy the $150k - 200k lifestyles.

+1

As an aside, I remember one of the bankers I cold-called while trying to break in had an interesting story. I'm not sure how he did it, but he attended Booth part-time (he attended class during the weekend; worked during the week) while his company paid half of the tuition. The catch? He worked in New York, and therefore flew to Chicago every single weekend for the two year period. Most of the money he made from his job was just to cover the plane tickets. He said the only thing different about his experience was he felt somewhat left out from student activities. Everything else (alumni network, branding, recruitment) was his. Ridiculous.

I have a colleague here in NY who just finished up the part time Booth program, flying back and forth. She also said the experience was great. The part time classes are in the downtown campus (not Hyde Park) which is where all the guest speaker events are and a lot of the OCR, so she felt like she didn't really miss out on anything. They also have a shuttle for all of the out of town students back and forth to the airport.

1/22/12
Boothorbust:
Culcet:
Relinquis:
runningcitylikediddy:

people lose focus over time... marriage/kids are certainly distraction... get rich or die tryin'!

Child. The point of being "rich" is to be able to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones on your own terms; And if you can do that without "almost dying trying to be rich", why not?

I haven't done my MBA yet. I'm applying to full time programmes at the moment. Personally, I think it makes sense to do an executive MBA / part time MBA at a top school if you've decided that you would like to live a more balanced life and are already on the right track. I have friends who have done this at both LBS & Columbia and they're doing fine.

Nearly all of the people I know who have done top MBAs more than 10 years ago are making a lot more than $150k a year. Even those outside of investment banking / investments (some are in real estate or are working internationally so that probably skews the $ upwards). I'd say most of them are enjoying their lives in terms of work/life balance (with the exception of a couple of highly strung banking MDs).

Also. Some people get knocked out of high paying career paths and then realise that they can enjoy the $150k - 200k lifestyles.

+1

As an aside, I remember one of the bankers I cold-called while trying to break in had an interesting story. I'm not sure how he did it, but he attended Booth part-time (he attended class during the weekend; worked during the week) while his company paid half of the tuition. The catch? He worked in New York, and therefore flew to Chicago every single weekend for the two year period. Most of the money he made from his job was just to cover the plane tickets. He said the only thing different about his experience was he felt somewhat left out from student activities. Everything else (alumni network, branding, recruitment) was his. Ridiculous.

I have a colleague here in NY who just finished up the part time Booth program, flying back and forth. She also said the experience was great. The part time classes are in the downtown campus (not Hyde Park) which is where all the guest speaker events are and a lot of the OCR, so she felt like she didn't really miss out on anything. They also have a shuttle for all of the out of town students back and forth to the airport.

I'm assuming the company paid for her MBA? Did she participate at all through OCR? I'm surprised she liked the experience given the lack of the social scene that is typical for full-time students.

Financial Modeling

1/22/12

^^^ agreed on this

Do what you want not what you can!

1/22/12

This is a great thread. I'd love to hear more people's perspective on this. I personally did the banking route and now work at a Hedge Fund. While I like what I do I also want to try new things and maybe potentially getting an MBA, but fear that if I leave the HF world I will never be able to get back in. Thoughts on this?

1/23/12
madgames:

This is a great thread. I'd love to hear more people's perspective on this. I personally did the banking route and now work at a Hedge Fund. While I like what I do I also want to try new things and maybe potentially getting an MBA, but fear that if I leave the HF world I will never be able to get back in. Thoughts on this?

This is a serious concern in a shrinking HF market. I have thought about this extensively and concluded that if I were to go back to b-school, I would have to accept the fact that there is a meaningful chance that I wouldn't be able to get back into a good HF role even with CFA + top MBA + experience. If you had made some good connections that you can leverage coming out of b-school, it may be worth rolling the dice if you think you really need an MBA.

1/23/12

^^ The company paid tuition (though she had to pay taxes on the reimbursement, so it closer to them paying 60% of the tuition). She did participate in OCR and is switching careers, though remaining with the company. She is older (late 30's) so I think was less concerned with the social aspect of the MBA, and was really there to learn and network.

1/23/12
Boothorbust:

^^ The company paid tuition (though she had to pay taxes on the reimbursement, so it closer to them paying 60% of the tuition). She did participate in OCR and is switching careers, though remaining with the company. She is older (late 30's) so I think was less concerned with the social aspect of the MBA, and was really there to learn and network.

She participated in OCR and switched careers but remained with her company? Do you mean that she got offers in other industries/companies through ocr but decided to stay with her current firm?

I've been trying to find out more about how successful part-time students are in getting jobs through ocr. I've heard mixed things.

1/24/12
Brady4MVP:
Boothorbust:

^^ The company paid tuition (though she had to pay taxes on the reimbursement, so it closer to them paying 60% of the tuition). She did participate in OCR and is switching careers, though remaining with the company. She is older (late 30's) so I think was less concerned with the social aspect of the MBA, and was really there to learn and network.

She participated in OCR and switched careers but remained with her company? Do you mean that she got offers in other industries/companies through ocr but decided to stay with her current firm?

I've been trying to find out more about how successful part-time students are in getting jobs through ocr. I've heard mixed things.

Northwestern Kellogg has a similar program. I can elaborate more if anyone wants, PM me.

Hug It Out

1/24/12

double post

Hug It Out

1/23/12

^^ I feel like we are kind of hijacking this thread so this is the last I will say on this, PM if you want more details, I just think this is a useful thread but its purpose is for MBAs to talk about their presonal experiences: She participated in OCR, at which our current firm was recruiting for other jobs, this is how she got her new position. I do think in general part-time students are not as successful with career switching and leveraging OCR, but in this case it worked.

Best Response
1/24/12

It's quite simple.

Focus on what the MBA can do for you in the SHORT-TERM.

The reason why is that your life and career over the medium- to long-term WILL be a series of discontinuous changes. It's not linear. For virtually all of you, your career and life trajectory will not be this steady linear logical progression to your death.

Shit happens. You will change. A lot. And not necessarily by choice. Circumstances will influence or even force you to make drastic, sudden changes.

And that's not all bad. If it were so predictable, you'd be so bored and restless that you'll go and commit a crime just to get off.

Also, and this may be hard for some of you, but do you really think your 40-year-old self really gives a shit about what you did in your mid-20s? By then, you would've gone through more than enough changes in your career and life that b-school is a distant memory. It's irrelevant whether it's worth it or not - because you won't give a shit about whether it was worth it or not any more than you would think about an old ex-girlfriend of yours decades prior.

The value (both financial and emotional) of the MBA is really mostly about the short-term. For those of you burnt out from working, it's a 2-year reprieve, allowing you to navel gaze and figure out who you want to be when you grow up. That can be fun and scary - and keeps things interesting. Beyond graduation, in the first few years it can be an asset when it comes to your recruiting, networking and all that.

But again, shit happens. Less likely that something major will happen in the next 1, 2, or even 3 years in your career/life going forward (other than a steady linear progression), but as you look further out, there is a greater chance big stuff will happen - those "wake up calls" that will cause you to make big decisions that are discontinuous and put you in a completely different direction in your life.

You get married. For some, that won't change your career priorities. But for others it can (you move to a new city for your spouse's career, taking turns compromising; I mean if your wife is going to Minneapolis for her residency program and you move there after having been a hardcore NY banker, chances are you will get out of banking or even finance altogether because of the location and maybe even happy doing so).

Other events that could cause you to make choices that involve discontinuous changes in your career (i.e. starting a new career entirely): trying to raise kids; death in the family; illness in the family (yours or your inlaws); friend/colleague/peer calls you up to start an exciting new business totally unrelated to your current career; you blow up at your boss and burn your bridges forcing you to leave the industry and start over; you have health issues (you become much more aware of your own health as you get older, trust me); your spouse has health issues; your brother wins the lottery; you get divorced; you fall in love with someone and aim to make a new life together; your industry changes so fast it makes you obsolete; you stumble upon some amazing opportunity that all started with a conversation at Christmas with your wife's family; and so forth.

In the next 10+ years, chances are most of you will face big events in your life or career that will force you to make choices that take you in a completely different and unexpected direction. So when you're 10-15 years out and way too preoccupied with your present challenges and stuff that you are fully engaged in (kids, spouse, work, hobbies, renovating the house, other "projects", etc), all the obsessions and preoccupations you had in your 20s become as much a distant memory as the toys you had as a child.

And finally, this doesn't mean that you will all be "family first" folks either. Even if 10-15 years from now your career is still your #1 priority, HOW you view that career and what you want from it will likely be different than what you wanted from it in your 20s because of all the big things you've experienced in your life and career in that time span. Regardless of what happens, how you view money will change - it doesn't always become less important (although for many folks it does become less important), but important in different ways because your values and priorities have changed. To be blunt, for many of the banker/consultant types from target schools, the money+prestige thing is closely tied to self-esteem and self-worth. For most people, that becomes decoupled (hopefully!) over time when there's other things, experiences and people that enter your life and which give your ambitions/goals (including your work) more meaning. Money tends to become more of a means than an end in itself (because you no longer need money as a proxy for self-esteem). Prestige tends to become less important or even irrelevant when you start caring less about what others think.

So whether you feel it's worth it to go to b-school or not, just focus on the short-term: 1-3 years. In the medium- and long-term, virtually all of you will change in ways you'd never expect. You don't know what unexpected big events you'll be faced with, and you will have no idea how such events will influence you in a big way.

1/24/12

Very well said. Agree with most of your comments. I've already experienced an aforementioned "unexpected event" and picked up and moved to a different city and can definitely say that it was a difficult decision, but it forces you to think about what's really important in life.

1/28/12
MBAApply:

It's quite simple.

Focus on what the MBA can do for you in the SHORT-TERM.

The reason why is that your life and career over the medium- to long-term WILL be a series of discontinuous changes. It's not linear. For virtually all of you, your career and life trajectory will not be this steady linear logical progression to your death.

Shit happens. You will change. A lot. And not necessarily by choice. Circumstances will influence or even force you to make drastic, sudden changes.

And that's not all bad. If it were so predictable, you'd be so bored and restless that you'll go and commit a crime just to get off.

Also, and this may be hard for some of you, but do you really think your 40-year-old self really gives a shit about what you did in your mid-20s? By then, you would've gone through more than enough changes in your career and life that b-school is a distant memory. It's irrelevant whether it's worth it or not - because you won't give a shit about whether it was worth it or not any more than you would think about an old ex-girlfriend of yours decades prior.

The value (both financial and emotional) of the MBA is really mostly about the short-term. For those of you burnt out from working, it's a 2-year reprieve, allowing you to navel gaze and figure out who you want to be when you grow up. That can be fun and scary - and keeps things interesting. Beyond graduation, in the first few years it can be an asset when it comes to your recruiting, networking and all that.

But again, shit happens. Less likely that something major will happen in the next 1, 2, or even 3 years in your career/life going forward (other than a steady linear progression), but as you look further out, there is a greater chance big stuff will happen - those "wake up calls" that will cause you to make big decisions that are discontinuous and put you in a completely different direction in your life.

You get married. For some, that won't change your career priorities. But for others it can (you move to a new city for your spouse's career, taking turns compromising; I mean if your wife is going to Minneapolis for her residency program and you move there after having been a hardcore NY banker, chances are you will get out of banking or even finance altogether because of the location and maybe even happy doing so).

Other events that could cause you to make choices that involve discontinuous changes in your career (i.e. starting a new career entirely): trying to raise kids; death in the family; illness in the family (yours or your inlaws); friend/colleague/peer calls you up to start an exciting new business totally unrelated to your current career; you blow up at your boss and burn your bridges forcing you to leave the industry and start over; you have health issues (you become much more aware of your own health as you get older, trust me); your spouse has health issues; your brother wins the lottery; you get divorced; you fall in love with someone and aim to make a new life together; your industry changes so fast it makes you obsolete; you stumble upon some amazing opportunity that all started with a conversation at Christmas with your wife's family; and so forth.

In the next 10+ years, chances are most of you will face big events in your life or career that will force you to make choices that take you in a completely different and unexpected direction. So when you're 10-15 years out and way too preoccupied with your present challenges and stuff that you are fully engaged in (kids, spouse, work, hobbies, renovating the house, other "projects", etc), all the obsessions and preoccupations you had in your 20s become as much a distant memory as the toys you had as a child.

And finally, this doesn't mean that you will all be "family first" folks either. Even if 10-15 years from now your career is still your #1 priority, HOW you view that career and what you want from it will likely be different than what you wanted from it in your 20s because of all the big things you've experienced in your life and career in that time span. Regardless of what happens, how you view money will change - it doesn't always become less important (although for many folks it does become less important), but important in different ways because your values and priorities have changed. To be blunt, for many of the banker/consultant types from target schools, the money+prestige thing is closely tied to self-esteem and self-worth. For most people, that becomes decoupled (hopefully!) over time when there's other things, experiences and people that enter your life and which give your ambitions/goals (including your work) more meaning. Money tends to become more of a means than an end in itself (because you no longer need money as a proxy for self-esteem). Prestige tends to become less important or even irrelevant when you start caring less about what others think.

So whether you feel it's worth it to go to b-school or not, just focus on the short-term: 1-3 years. In the medium- and long-term, virtually all of you will change in ways you'd never expect. You don't know what unexpected big events you'll be faced with, and you will have no idea how such events will influence you in a big way.

As usual, very well said Alex.
Your post made complete sense, I have a few older siblings and close family members, many quite a few years older than me...and luckily i've been able to see first hand the changes in their lives as they mature and begin and end different stages of adult-hood. Personally, after just 2 years working in corp america, I've come to realize how quickly money fades as a motivator in life if you already have the things that really count, more importantly I've come to realize how much growing we have to do in our 20's, and even 30's. That's not to say career motivation fades, it just isn't as closed tied/correlated to financial reward and prestige as many of us at one time convinced ourselves that it was.

1/24/12

Alex, I don't think one should focus on the short term precisely for the reasons you mentioned.

I think that you're overlooking the "optionality" that a "brand name" MBA gives you in the medium/long term... That matters a lot when you consider how non-linear life is (moving countries, changing industries or roles, entrepreneurship, adjusting to shocks in income/jobs etc...).

I agree that one shouldn't focus dogmatically on the myth of the "career-track". Very good point.

1/24/12
Relinquis:

Alex, I don't think one should focus on the short term precisely for the reasons you mentioned.

I think that you're overlooking the "optionality" that a "brand name" MBA gives you in the medium/long term... That matters a lot when you consider how non-linear life is (moving countries, changing industries or roles, entrepreneurship, adjusting to shocks in income/jobs etc...).

I agree that one shouldn't focus dogmatically on the myth of the "career-track". Very good point.

Again an MBA helps if those sudden changes happen in the short-term.

But if you are in your 40s, you really think people care about credentials you got in your 20s?

1/24/12
MBAApply:
Relinquis:

Alex, I don't think one should focus on the short term precisely for the reasons you mentioned.

I think that you're overlooking the "optionality" that a "brand name" MBA gives you in the medium/long term... That matters a lot when you consider how non-linear life is (moving countries, changing industries or roles, entrepreneurship, adjusting to shocks in income/jobs etc...).

I agree that one shouldn't focus dogmatically on the myth of the "career-track". Very good point.

Again an MBA helps if those sudden changes happen in the short-term.

But if you are in your 40s, you really think people care about credentials you got in your 20s?

As an employee, when your industry dies what else do you have apart from that and your relationships?

Marketing factor / personal branding

Why do you think people put their credentials on marketing materials (fund raising, advisory, consulting, etc...)? Not to mention moving internationally where the brand name of your school will be one of the few things that people can identify/recognise.

I've seen a lot of older guys forced to make big changes in my sector (real estate & finance), due to their entire sector dying. Some have had to change countries, others different sectors/family business. It's mostly their network and relationships that have allowed them to cope, but those who have credentials/brand name schools are more competitive when reaching out beyond their immediate network. to people who don't know them or their previous firms.

I recently got sent a resume + references for a guy who is probably 20-25 years older than I am. The fact that he attended a well known business school does give me added comfort in considering working with him on a project or mentioning him to a contact. Is it the most impressive thing he's done? Not at all. Its one line at the bottom of his resume, but it helps as I recognised it (I had to google his last 3 firms).

Having a qualification people know will give others comfort in deal with, interviewing, hiring you or engaging you as a consultant (a big factor for senior folks). Try raising funds or applying to non-junior level posts with only a bachelors that no one knows and work experience no one cares about anymore. Also, try going for management roles outside of your sector/country without a brand name MBA. You will feel handicapped.

Most of this branding doesn't matter though, if you attended undergrad at Oxbridge, an Ivy or MIT, etc... or if you actually have a technical skill that's in demand (CS, some form of engineering, etc...). For most others brand name schooling isn't vanity. Its insurance.

1/24/12

As an employee, when your industry dies what else do you have apart from that and your relationships?

Marketing factor / personal branding

Why do you think people put their credentials on marketing materials (fund raising, advisory, consulting, etc...)? Not to mention moving internationally where the brand name of your school will be one of the few things that people can identify/recognise.

I've seen a lot of older guys forced to make big changes in my sector (real estate & finance), due to their entire sector dying. Some have had to change countries, others different sectors/family business. It's mostly their network and relationships that have allowed them to cope, but those who have credentials/brand name schools are more competitive when reaching out beyond their immediate network. to people who don't know them or their previous firms.

I recently got sent a resume + references for a guy who is probably 20-25 years older than I am. The fact that he attended a well known business school does give me added comfort in considering working with him on a project or mentioning him to a contact. Is it the most impressive thing he's done? Not at all. Its one line at the bottom of his resume, but it helps as I recognised it (I had to google his last 3 firms).

Having a qualification people know will give others comfort in deal with, interviewing, hiring you or engaging you as a consultant (a big factor for senior folks). Try raising funds or applying to non-junior level posts with only a bachelors that no one knows and work experience no one cares about anymore. Also, try going for management roles outside of your sector/country without a brand name MBA. You will feel handicapped.

Most of this branding doesn't matter though, if you attended undergrad at Oxbridge, an Ivy or MIT, etc... or if you actually have a technical skill that's in demand (CS, some form of engineering, etc...). For most others brand name schooling isn't vanity. Its insurance.

Exactly. The only people who give that much of a shit about where someone went to school in their 20s are people who are also in their 20s.

We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this. All I will say is that save this post as a time capsule and come back to it 20-25 years later and see if you actually care where people your age (in your 40s and 50s) actually care about where you went to school 20-25 years prior. The reason is when you're 10-20 years removed from your time now (your youth), you will truly appreciate how much people change over that time period that what credential someone had that far back (or even what they accomplished that far back) has little relevance to who they are today.

Again, the importance you put on the long-term value of a credential like an MBA is more a function of your age and stage in life more than some universal maxim that applies to everyone (or even to yourself in 10-20 years time).

Is the credential irrelevant? Of course not. But as you get older, it moves down lower and lower on the list of things people evaluate you on (unless again the person evaluating you is a young person who believes that an MBA is far more important than it is), and often to the point where it becomes unimportant.

Also, for the network: you really think that someone in his 40s and 50s is going to be trolling his business school network from 20 years prior - complete strangers? Again, you are projecting your own present day values and perspectives of a young person to a future that you assume is static and unchanged.

Your strongest network by far and where 99% of the effort and results will come from will be those you have worked closely with in the past 5 years. Of course, if you barely have 5 years of work experience, it's hard to truly appreciate that. But the longer your history, the less your distant past means much especially in a world (regardless of industry) values now, now, and now - a "what have you done lately" mentality. Again, no one gives a shit what you did or where you went to school 10+ years ago, because it's ancient history. I can certainly understand how you may see school credentials as more important than it is if you're not yet 10 years out of school, because you're not that far removed from a lifetime/childhood where all you knew was school (even if you're just say 4-7 years out of college). You may not believe me now and i don't expect you to, but you will likely experience it and figure it out on your own as you gain more experience in your career.

A real network and strong relationships aren't about being part of some alumni association where you can just pick apples from the tree whenever you feel like it. It's all based on a long history of work and trust that you've built, and by the time you're in your 40s (or even late 30s), virtually all of that network will be the people you've worked with either in your "day job" career or in your extracurriculars (board members on nonprofits, committees you sit on at your kids' day school, political party involvement, etc).

1/28/12
1/28/12
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