MBA Mikey: Is B-School Right for Me?
I get a shocking number of DMs asking me about business school: Is the MBA worth it? Would you take a free ride from a less sexy program? Can I break into banking/PE/VC after graduating from X school? Are Johnson and Kenan-Flagler really as bad as you make them seem? (The answer to that last one is NO, for the record).
This being the Wall Street Oasis crowd, I'm going to throw out some finance-friendly pieces of advice based on my own experience and the experiences of friends.
For context, I worked in operating and investing roles for 5 years before starting my MBA. I liked the work, but didn't love the stage, and did an MBA for a few reasons:
- Take a vacation from real life while I've got my youth, some money, and no responsibilities
- Figure my shit out: having bounced between paths, I needed some distance from the day-to-day to figure out what I was really looking for professionally
- Learn some of the stuff I'd missed: no pre-MBA career path teaches you everything, and I needed to fill out the proverbial toolkit while I was still relatively junior
- Meet great people. Everyone talks about networking, but that's what you do with the Oak Hill MD you met in Palm Beach, not with your new friend from your MBA cohort.
So, from my perspective, the MBA makes sense for any/all of the reasons above. But it is, after all, a vocational school. You shouldn't go unless you can leave with a better/higher-paying/more fulfilling job than you entered with. Given that, here's Mikey's guide to the optimal MBA seekers:
Petey the Pivoter: Petey started out on a decidedly unsexy career path. He worked in audit/insurance sales/internal consulting/public sector…you name it, and now he wants to make bank and drive a Range Rover. Petey's a great b-school candidate, because he can start on even footing with other MBA applicants when applying for roles in consulting, banking, general management (like Proctor & Gamble, for example). As long as Petey busts his ass, nails the technical, networks with the hiring managers, etc., he'll have a good chance at pivoting into a role that can turn into a great career or serve as a launchpad for other, less conventional things.
Vito the Veteran: Vito served the country proudly for many years. A West Point grad, Vito knows as much about the private sector as Mikey does about attending Elizabeth Warren rallies. Business school is a crash course in econ, accounting, marketing – all the basic. Vito needs this crash course because when he pairs some hard skills with his unparalleled leadership training, he'll be an absolute weapon in business. On a side note, the guy spent the last decade living in barracks in the middle of nowhere – this gives him flexibility to get excited about roles in less sexy cities, opening up even more fertile hunting ground for this job search. He simply doesn't mind being in Cincinnati.
Back Office Betty: Betty has all the right names on her resume. Most recently, she crushed it at JP Morgan. Or did she? Dig deeper, and you'll find that Betty worked in the Wilmington office, meandering through back office tasks all day. Now, she's ready for a transition to the front office. M&A? Hell yeah – Betty is ready. An MBA from a solid program gives Betty the credibility she needs to approach her former employer and competitors as a viable candidate for roles making hundreds of thousands doing deals, not a fraction of that in compliance.
Anyway, I'll be back next Wednesday for a Q&A. In the meantime, find me on Instagram @MBA_Mikey. I make memes about the MBA experience, the stereotypical MBAs you'll run into, and post-grad life back in the real world. See you there.