To anyone considering an MBA

There has been a lot of recent discussion on these forums as well as in the media regarding the value of an MBA. As a longtime member of the community and someone who recently made the decision to pursue an MBA, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

You can see my full background story here: "How I Got into Banking"

My Background

In summary, I went to a relatively unknown undergrad in New England where I received a degree in MIS. I went on to do two years of investment banking at an MM doing sell-side M&A. I then did two years of MM leveraged buyouts in a pre-MBA role before switching to a competitive MM leveraged buyouts shop in a partner track role (post-MBA role with no MBA).

Made the choice to pursue b-school

Despite the fact that I am on a partner track without having an MBA, I made the choice to pursue b-school. I'll have six years of experience when I matriculate this fall. I am very happy in my current job and will likely pursue very similar opportunities upon graduating. I won't be receiving any employer sponsorship nor have I been guaranteed a position when I graduate. I'll be attending one of the MBA business schools">M7 schools (not H/S/W – they all rejected me).

Who an MBA makes sense for

First of all, I don't think an MBA makes sense for everyone. It ultimately comes down to a combination of career path, adversity to risk, financial situation, geography, etc. There is no one-size fits all formula; you'll need to decide for yourself if it is a good fit for you. There is also no hard and fast line for which MBA programs are worth it and which ones are not. For some people, only Harvard/Stanford/Wharton are worth it. For others, a top 50 program could be the boost they need to get on the right track. Ignore any discussion where people try to value an individual school without regard to the applicant's individual circumstances.

Many people cite the cost of an MBA, combined with the opportunity cost, as the single biggest reason that it is "not worth it." For me, the cost was never a consideration, though the total cost of attending will likely exceed seven figures (opportunity cost included). I like to believe that I have very modest expenses in life relative to my income. I don't enjoy expensive dinners, don't drink more than a few drinks when I go out, and I have no interest in a fancy car/boat/yacht. I've saved all of my annual bonuses without ever having to pass up an opportunity due to money. For me, the biggest inhibitor of maximizing my happiness has always been a lack of time, not money.

A chance to take some time off

Wealth alone doesn't bring happiness; it just enables us to afford experiences and things that make us happy. While the cost of an MBA is very high, I view it as an opportunity to have unforgettable experiences while I'm young without negatively impacting my career. Without including the five vacations (week+ long) that I've taken in the nearly six years I've been working, I haven't had more than two straight weeks off since high school! This summer I will take advantage of my nearly three months off before school to build my language skills in Latin America, explore cities in Europe I've never been to, and visit friends and family in the U.S. that I haven't spent time with in years since I live in a different city. And the best part is that employers won't view it as a "hole in my employment history" as it is generally accepted to take time off before starting an MBA program. I don't think I will have another opportunity like this for the rest of my career unless I lose my job or retire.

What I can learn in B-school

Money aside, I also place a lot of value the learning aspect of business school. Given I have an MIS degree, everything I know about finance has been learned on the job. While I am rapidly reaching the point where intricate accounting / finance knowledge is not required to be successful in my job, I do encounter situations where I have no idea what my CFO is trying to explain to me. Things such as utilizing standard costing come intuitively to my peers who studied accounting, but require extra effort for me to understand. There is also a whole world of finance that I have never been exposed to (derivatives, hedging, heck the entire stock market) that I feel will improve my ability to perform my job. This is an often overlooked part of business school that I think people should take into consideration when thinking about applying.

Even if you completely negate the learning aspect of an MBA, the intangibles alone are reason enough for me to get an MBA. These intangibles come in many forms: (1) credibility, (2) network, (3) executive presence, (4) risk mitigation, and (5) option value.

Credibility

The combination of attending undergrad at a university few on Wall Street have heard of and working at small institutions, there is nothing in my bio that gives me credibility. Sure, I can eventually earn respect through performance and results, but often times a lack of credibility can prevent my ever being given that shot. I'm constantly meeting with people that judge my credibility. Current and prospective executives of investments, bankers, lenders, and down the line when I am more senior, limited partners. For me and many others, attending a top tier MBA will enable me to gain this credibility.

Network

This is the one intangible benefit of an MBA program that people latch onto, and rightfully so. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen senior professionals tap into their alumni network to learn more about a particularly industry, transaction, or opportunity. Furthermore, if you're looking to change jobs, having a network of people that are willing to take your call and assist you is invaluable.

Executive Presence

The vast majority of junior professionals lack the ability to articulate their thoughts in a structured, cohesive, and concise manor. Their opinions are often discounted or ignored due to this fact alone. When someone delivers an opinion with confidence and conviction, they come across and knowledgeable and intelligent. B-school is an opportunity for people to develop this soft skill through frequent interactions with others when there is no pre-determined seniority. Executive presence is not only valuable on the job, but one of the defining characteristics of leadership.

Risk Mitigation

Things change in life, particularly in the financial services industry. Private Equity appears to be contracting as many established firms are unsuccessful fundraising. I work at a relatively small firm where the departure or incapacitation of a couple individuals could force us to wind up the fund. There are many factors outside of my control that could force me to find a new job despite how well I perform. Opportunities are few and far between at the post-MBA level and I would be at a serious disadvantage without one. I have yet to read a job description for a PE professional that didn't state "top-tier MBA required" or at least "preferred." I view the MBA as risk mitigation in the event that I find myself in such a situation.

Option Value

Many people go into MBA programs after only three to five years on the job. Usually they've only worked in one type of job their whole career, be it M&A, consulting, logistics, you name it. These career paths often build a very specific skillset and do not give you exposure to alternative career paths. While I've had the good fortune of getting exposure to a wide variety of companies, I don't know the first thing about product management, marketing, etc. An MBA gives you broad exposure to and dare I say a rough skillset in each of these categories. This exposure will not only bolster my ability to work in PE but also widen my options through developing a broad skillset in the event PE doesn't work out.

Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

I like to believe that I am a pretty self-aware individual. My thoughts have continued to evolve as I've progressed through my career and I recognize that they will continue to change. I'm not entirely sure if I will feel the same way about obtaining an MBA after completing the program or even ten years from now. What I do know is that the window to gain acceptance to top programs is very narrow and it is "now or never." The majority of applicants that are admitted to the top programs are in their twenties and 2-6 years into their career (broadly – most seem to be 3-5 years). I will likely never have the same opportunities available to me in the future if I postpone the decision. That is one risk that I'm not willing to take.

Mod Note (Andy): Throwback Thursday - This was originally posted January 2013

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Comments (192)

Jan 18, 2013 - 1:49pm

Very well said, CompBanker.

“The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired.” - Michael Lewis
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Jan 18, 2013 - 2:03pm

+1 for excellence. I can relate to much of this minus the successful career part since I graduated in May. Working on that one though!

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."
Jan 18, 2013 - 2:19pm

Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.
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Jan 18, 2013 - 2:34pm

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.

CompBanker

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Jan 18, 2013 - 3:45pm

CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

Jan 18, 2013 - 5:05pm

CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.

Thanks for the reply. However, I have one question about the credibility. I know that they are easier to get into, but why should that make them less "credible"? I feel like they might be easier to get into because far less people apply for the part-time, and far less people are willing to do nights/weekends on top of work. If you have the same faculty and same courses in both situations, why would one experience be more credible than the other?

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.
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Jan 18, 2013 - 2:37pm

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

Basically part-time recruiting is the same as full time recruiting in that you get similar companies...You're invited to the same on-campus information sessions. However, full time students get first priority and some companies look very specifically for full timers.

You basically have to be very pro-active in your job search in part time recruiting. The careers office isn't very helpful and tends to see you as a second class citizen. They'll prioritize the needs of the recruiter over yours instead of trying to "help" you the way the full time students get. Its doable to get the same offers as the full timers but you have to make an extra effort to find your own opportunities.

May 28, 2013 - 3:06pm

EllsworthToohey:

rogersterling59:

Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

Basically part-time recruiting is the same as full time recruiting in that you get similar companies...You're invited to the same on-campus information sessions. However, full time students get first priority and some companies look very specifically for full timers.

You basically have to be very pro-active in your job search in part time recruiting. The careers office isn't very helpful and tends to see you as a second class citizen. They'll prioritize the needs of the recruiter over yours instead of trying to "help" you the way the full time students get. Its doable to get the same offers as the full timers but you have to make an extra effort to find your own opportunities.

In addition, it is quite difficult from a time standpoint to fully commit yourself to recruiting/job applications when you are working FT and going to school already.

Mar 6, 2013 - 11:34pm

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

For what it's worth, I'm considering part-time MBA at Booth too and recently had a conversation about this with a colleague:

1) It's the same MBA so the signaling value is there
2) You miss out on OCR but the best jobs in the HF world (excluding a few notable exceptions) don't come though OCR
3) It REALLY cut down the total cost (including opportunity), especially if your firm sponsors half it

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_KarateBoy_
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May 29, 2013 - 1:25am

KarateBoy:

rogersterling59:

Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

For what it's worth, I'm considering part-time MBA at Booth too and recently had a conversation about this with a colleague:

1) It's the same MBA so the signaling value is there
2) You miss out on OCR but the best jobs in the HF world (excluding a few notable exceptions) don't come though OCR
3) It REALLY cut down the total cost (including opportunity), especially if your firm sponsors half it

Your colleague is wrong on the first point. It is technically the same MBA, but the signaling value to those who matter is radically different because they know that booth full-time is SIGNIFICANTLY more selective than part-time. It's not even close.

You don't get access to summer internship recruiting but do get access to full-time recruiting after 1 year, provided that your firm signs a waiver (assuming you're being sponsored). Making any type of career transition with booth PT will be immensely difficult though, even with OCR.

Yes, it is cheaper if your company pays for a part of it. Ultimately it boils down to whether or not you want to switch job/industry or not. If yes, do a full-time mba.

Jan 18, 2013 - 2:32pm

Great article - very well written and logical.

Except for one thing. If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the presitige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.

Jan 18, 2013 - 2:51pm

valiant7002:
If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the prestige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.


Your question makes a very large assumption; that I work long hours and therefore don't have much free time. This was certainly true when I was an investment banking analyst and partially as a pre-mba associate. Now, I realistically work about 50 hours a week. Unless we have a deal under LOI, I'm not working weekends and I've only had dinner at the office once. The thing that eats up most of my time is work travel, which admittedly is at least every other week. There are very few other jobs out there that would significantly reduce my hours at the office and none that would do so at the same level of compensation.

As for the work, I genuinely do enjoy some of the work I do. I enjoy learning new things, particularly how things work. A significant element of my job is to learn as much as I possibly can when evaluating investment opportunities. While there are certainly mundane elements of the job and not every company is exciting, I've been able to learn about hundreds of different companies and industries just six years into my career. There are very, very few career paths that give this sort of exposure.

I also like a lot of the people that I work with. I've purposely made "culture" and "fit" my number 1 & 2 criteria when looking at job opportunities. I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?

CompBanker

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Jan 18, 2013 - 3:30pm

CompBanker:
valiant7002:
If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the prestige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.


Your question makes a very large assumption; that I work long hours and therefore don't have much free time. This was certainly true when I was an investment banking analyst and partially as a pre-mba associate. Now, I realistically work about 50 hours a week. Unless we have a deal under LOI, I'm not working weekends and I've only had dinner at the office once. The thing that eats up most of my time is work travel, which admittedly is at least every other week. There are very few other jobs out there that would significantly reduce my hours at the office and none that would do so at the same level of compensation.

As for the work, I genuinely do enjoy some of the work I do. I enjoy learning new things, particularly how things work. A significant element of my job is to learn as much as I possibly can when evaluating investment opportunities. While there are certainly mundane elements of the job and not every company is exciting, I've been able to learn about hundreds of different companies and industries just six years into my career. There are very, very few career paths that give this sort of exposure.

I also like a lot of the people that I work with. I've purposely made "culture" and "fit" my number 1 & 2 criteria when looking at job opportunities. I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?

Can you please tell me where you work? I'm also trying to get away from the NYC atmosphere (been doing banking for two years now). PM is totally fine if you do not want to share publicly.

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.
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Jan 18, 2013 - 2:47pm

Ditto. All of the reasons why I would go back to b-school, even after having had success in the financial services industry.

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis - when I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this
Jan 18, 2013 - 2:56pm

Awesome viewpoint. It goes to show: while you can find a lot of advice and insight on these boards--evaluate your own situation! There is no silver bullet for success! Have patience, make moves for the right decisions, and keep your head on your shoulders. Thanks CompBanker!

Jan 18, 2013 - 3:02pm

Instant classic. Thank you for sharing your rationale. I too like to live the simpler life and often eschew expensive/fancy things, so I've been thinking a lot lately about work-life balance post-MBA (I'm still applying/interviewing). I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that money is nothing except a conduit to pursue the experiences (not things) that make us happy. Hopefully we'll end up at the same place as I'd love to attend school with someone with such a down-to-earth perspective.

Jan 18, 2013 - 3:19pm

CompBanker:
Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

Real talk. Literally millions of ways to make a buck. Knowing and understanding that and knowing and understanding what truly makes you happy will set you up for a good life.

Jan 18, 2013 - 3:32pm

Great write up. I definitely agree with having its efficacy evaluated on a case by case basis. Personally, short of hitting a career plateau where the MBA would be paid for and a job waiting on the other side, or having my ~300k held in escrow to be returned within 6 months of graduation if no job was found- I wouldn't do it. But again, that's just a personal choice and I certainly understand why people would feel otherwise. I'm not really into career roulette and the MBA is the biggest spin of that wheel I can think of. Also, I have ZERO interest in climbing a corporate ladder and would much rather start a business as a "end goal" (which is much easier with that money still in pocket, and certainly doesn't require an MBA). Anyway, best of luck to you.

I will now depart with a quote: "The (insert top MBA) guys have mad swagger. They frequently wear their class jackets to (insert city) bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males."

Jan 18, 2013 - 3:35pm

CompBanker:
Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

I liked this paragraph. I'm not even close to being as experienced as you, but I think a big problem with a lot of the finance guys I see aspiring to make that kind of money is that they become overly attached to their PE gigs. Going off to B-school because it's something you want to do and knowing that you may not get back into PE shows that you have the versatility and risk appetite on top of six years of strong experience.

Jan 18, 2013 - 3:59pm

Very well written with meaningful and personal wisdom sprinkled in. Good luck in B-school!

"Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life." John R. Wooden
Jan 18, 2013 - 4:03pm

From my point of view, it seems that you have carefully considered your options and chosen the opportunity that wso/">suits you best. This was a well written article and well thought out decision. Congrats and good luck!

Jan 18, 2013 - 4:04pm

Great insight. I'm definitely re-reading this when I'm at that point!

The hills are alive with the sound of horsepower! - Jeremy Clarkson
Jan 18, 2013 - 4:11pm

Thanks for the great post CompBanker!

I was wondering if anyone has insight on the value of an MBA outside of high finance (PE/HF/IBD). Is an MBA much more valuable for those looking to move up in corporate finance for instance as it is a prerequisite to reach the VP level? Or are most of the guys moving up the ladder doing evening MBAs and less emphasis is placed on the prestige of the institution?

Mar 6, 2013 - 10:24pm

n1cktm:
Thanks for the great post CompBanker!

I was wondering if anyone has insight on the [b]value of an MBA outside of high finance (PE/HF/IBD)[/b]. Is an MBA much more valuable for those looking to move up in corporate finance for instance as it is a prerequisite to reach the VP level? Or are most of the guys moving up the ladder doing evening MBAs and less emphasis is placed on the prestige of the institution?

A top-tier MBA makes you a more viable candidate in almost any industry.

Background: I work in the defense sector as a software engineer. I'm also a infantry officer in the Army National Guard. I have a BS Computer Science.

You have a solid chance of making O-6/Colonel with the following:
- Infantry branch (while they may account for about 1/9th of junior officers, they represent over 50% of those who are Colonels and higher)
- Engineering/Science degree (US Cyber Command is rapidly expanding)
- Excellent reviews
- Required professional military education

A MBA from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Yale would be that extra push to make a "star" possible.

Mar 6, 2013 - 10:44pm

knivek][quote=n1cktm:

A MBA from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Yale would be that extra push to make a "star" possible.

Yeah, but only if your goal is to stay in the military. If that is the case, then I think a formal business education will increase frustration as one rises in rank and has to tote the company line. There are no reformers above the company grade ranks. Someone who goes to HBS to make general will spend 26 years of a career to get there and earn a salary comparable to what his or her classmates will make 1 year out of HBS. In the end, it seems like a dumb choice to me, unless you're just looking for 2 years off.

Best Response
Jan 18, 2013 - 4:42pm

This post raises a more general question in my mind. Why on earth is a "gap" on your resume such a scary thing for potential employers? Are we really enmeshed in that much of a mind-numbed machine that if you decide to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and actually look around people think you are tainted goods regardless of the rest of your resume's strength? "Oh you decided to travel to Europe for a few months, learn a programming language, and ice climb in Chile after doing 5 years in elite finance? And you decided to do it all by yourself without some institution telling you it was ok and charging you $200K for the privilege? Ha! Good luck pal."

Seems bizarre to me when I really think about it.

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Jan 18, 2013 - 4:53pm

labanker:
This post raises a more general question in my mind. Why on earth is a "gap" on your resume such a scary thing for potential employers? Are we really enmeshed in that much of a mind-numbed machine that if you decide to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and actually look around people think you are tainted goods regardless of the rest of your resume's strength? "

...yes.

May 25, 2014 - 3:03pm

Employers simply want to make sure their employees are 100% focused. There is nothing inherently wrong with having extracurricular activities but if you are interested in these extracurricular activities enough to take serious time off and pause your career, then there is the possibility that you may be do it again, which means there is the possibility that you're not 100% focused on your job. You may say that taking a 3-month sabbatical to see Europe was a one-time thing but how do I know that after having your horizons expanded by seeing the wonders of Europe, you're not now secretly wondering about what your might find in South America or Asia?

"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." - Albert Einstein
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Jan 18, 2013 - 6:17pm

after reading this i may have to change my vote for monkey/member of the year

Jan 18, 2013 - 6:45pm

In addition to your list I would like to add: things you can learn from your fellows: as you've said most of them are experts in their field. So if you do have some kind of marketing class, why not learn from someone who has been in this profession for several years with substantial knwoledge?

CompBanker:
Could you give us a brief (or detailled) story of your application? Why do you think that M7 school took you and what do you think are they looking for?

Thank you very much!

Jan 18, 2013 - 7:11pm

I hope this works out for you well Compbanker. I remember you mentioning an interest gaining more experience abroad(dating girls from overseas; general lack of foreign exposure in MM PE). Respect for expanding your horizons. You'll definitely be a more interesting guy coming back.

I'm actually in the reverse situation (spent quite some time traveling/living/working overseas, now working on my professional credentials back in the States), so if you have any questions re: maximizing your time overseas and making the most of those three months, PM it up. Best of luck.

Jan 22, 2013 - 10:44am

PaulOwen:
Compbanker,

Given the research you have done, would you consider two years of reputable experience to be not enough prior to b school?

Thanks,

Paul

Impossible to answer this question in a vacuum. It ultimately comes down to the quality of the experience combined with your career objectives and a hundred other smaller factors. For me, it would have been a huge mistake to attend b-school with only two years of work experience (which was banking for me). I definitely would have struggled to get as much out of the experience as I suspect I will get with six years under my belt. Everyone's situation is unique though.

CompBanker

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Jan 18, 2013 - 9:01pm

Great post. My personal view has recently been that MBAs are for people that want to APPEAR like they know something (very important for investment bankers, consultants, investors, corporate executives, or people that world in a capacity where the results of their efforts or quality of their advice cannot be judged empirically). It has been my preference to focus on producing, not on merely trying to impress people. The true value of the MBA is that most in the business world believe whatever they are told when the reality is that the emperor has no cloths.

Jan 19, 2013 - 3:31pm

fleetersamuelli:
Great post. My personal view has recently been that MBAs are for people that want to APPEAR like they know something (very important for investment bankers, consultants, investors, corporate executives, or people that world in a capacity where the results of their efforts or quality of their advice cannot be judged empirically). It has been my preference to focus on producing, not on merely trying to impress people. The true value of the MBA is that most in the business world believe whatever they are told when the reality is that the emperor has no cloths.

I think this can be applied to any sort of branding of pedigree. Sad, but true. Time to prestige whore it up!

Aug 10, 2018 - 10:51am

I hate your guts for this post. Mostly, because I suffered through financial and managerial accounting, finance, business analytics and data mining, and face economics. As a history major with very little real exposure to calculus I spent some long nights trying to keep up with my peers who were accountants, engineers, and finance people. Suffer I say! Then you come on here and say "The emperor has no clothes," well he does have clothes man! For God's sake, they all make B-School sound like a vacation and whoever "they" are, they're asses. It's not a vacation. It may be easier if you have a background in the tough areas, but it can suck at times. There is a technical side whether people choose to expose their knowledge base or not! They know shit man! If they went to a decent program.

"All men are alike in their dreams, and all men are alike in the promises they make. The difference is what they do."— Jean Baptiste Moliere
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Jan 19, 2013 - 6:17pm

@CompBanker:

What about the age of the applicant when applying to B-School? What I'm trying to say is you mentioned that B-School prefer people with 3-5 years of experience -- most people graduate college at 22, so that would make them roughly 25-28 years old.

But what about people who started college at a later age due to varying circumstances. I mean graduating college at 24, and then working for 5 years, which would make such applicants 29-30. How do B-School consider age vs. work experience?

Jan 22, 2013 - 10:38am

JamesHetfield:
@CompBanker:

What about the age of the applicant when applying to B-School? What I'm trying to say is you mentioned that B-School prefer people with 3-5 years of experience -- most people graduate college at 22, so that would make them roughly 25-28 years old.

But what about people who started college at a later age due to varying circumstances. I mean graduating college at 24, and then working for 5 years, which would make such applicants 29-30. How do B-School consider age vs. work experience?

I'm really not an expert on b-school admissions, so I'm not the best person to answer this (lots of admissions consultants on these forums that will give a more informed response). My understanding is that your age is less important than where you stand in your career trajectory. If you can make a compelling case as to why an MBA makes sense in that stage of your career, your age becomes less important. Given you're talking about a mere two year difference and the "gap" occurred pre-college, I wouldn't be overly concerned in your particular circumstance.

CompBanker

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Jan 19, 2013 - 10:38pm

another great post compbanker. thanks for helping shape my career path and a more level-headed worldview.

Capitalist
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Jan 19, 2013 - 10:53pm

People tend to rationalize their behaviour to hide the fact that it's still largely driven by emotion.
So the tldr version of your post probably is: 'I don't care about the costs, I just need a break for a legit reason'.
Nothing wrong with it, I can relate.

The Auto Show
May 28, 2013 - 3:52pm

huanleshalemei:

People tend to rationalize their behaviour to hide the fact that it's still largely driven by emotion.
So the tldr version of your post probably is: 'I don't care about the costs, I just need a break for a legit reason'.
Nothing wrong with it, I can relate.

Agree. This will look weird and uneconomical on your resume, no matter how you try to spin it.

OP, enjoy your time, I wouldn't recommend saying you went back to learn. Time on the job >> time in school.

Jan 19, 2013 - 11:01pm

Great post. This goes to show that there really is no "right" answer for decisions to be made. The MBA is right for some, not for others. Ultimately, what you produce and what other will exchange for it is the only arbitrator of success.

Jan 20, 2013 - 12:06am

Great post, incredibly concise and well written. You replied in the comments that "you are still in this job because of the opportunity to learn a lot about a lot of industries" - this resonates too well with my own thinking. Looks like I'm on the right path.
I'll be interested in knowing about your time at the b-school and how things turn out when you graduate. All the best.

Move along, nothing to see here.
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Jan 21, 2013 - 2:38pm

Congrats on the acceptance CompBanker. Great post, will definitely keep in mind.

MM IB -> TMT Corporate Development -> New Ventures
Jan 21, 2013 - 4:05pm

Congrats and thanks for all the great advice you have provided over the years. What do you think was the major reason for the H/S/W result? Even if you are a stellar candidate, those schools just seem to be a black box. Thanks.

Jan 22, 2013 - 10:21am

Gunga Galoonga Looper:
Congrats and thanks for all the great advice you have provided over the years. What do you think was the major reason for the H/S/W result? Even if you are a stellar candidate, those schools just seem to be a black box. Thanks.
Honestly, I couldn't tell you. Competition is fierce at the top programs and all I could possibly do is "guess." I've heard too many conflicting stories to draw any definitive conclusions. Everything from people getting rejected at the M7 but into HBS; no interview at the M7 but into Wharton; waitlisted at Wharton and then later accepted with a large scholarship, etc.

CompBanker

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Jan 22, 2013 - 7:31am

Great post and well written. I applaud you and support you in expanding your macro look at the (business) world. Your education, as mine, will help in any direction you choose to pursue.

Jan 22, 2013 - 9:25am

OP - Are you married? Real question. Just wondering how understanding the wife was (if appropriate) when discussing going back to school. In my experience, my friends who want to go back to b-school to "live the best 2 years of their life" are usually single.

Jan 22, 2013 - 10:15am

Poff:
OP - Are you married? Real question. Just wondering how understanding the wife was (if appropriate) when discussing going back to school. In my experience, my friends who want to go back to b-school to "live the best 2 years of their life" are usually single.
No, but I know a ton of applicants, current students, and past students who are married. It is very common. I would imagine that most people who attend the top programs are very career oriented and it probably wouldn't be the first time they've needed to make a career decision that impacted the relationship in a material way.

CompBanker

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Jan 22, 2013 - 3:28pm

" I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?"

From your lips to God's ears.

Jan 23, 2013 - 1:11am

Another great contribution Comp. Glad I checked in to see what's happening on WSO. As many other members have stated, much of what you wrote really rang true for me.

Now back to my applications, lol.

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so." - Ronald Reagan
Feb 2, 2013 - 5:39pm

great stuff, thanks for posting this

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Mar 4, 2013 - 4:41pm

Thanks, I am a 26 yo been planning for MBA for over a year, but keep getting bombarded with mainstream media for reasons why the MBA is a poor investment. Your essay was well articulated and had strong reasoning. I can totally related to the thing you said about credibility, especially as someone coming from a non-banker position.

May 28, 2013 - 6:08pm

Just a quick question. You've stated your work experience, which helped you get you into your mba program, but would you mind showing your GMAT and other credentials which qualified you into your M7 mba. How was your leadership/ volunteer experience? I am trying to benchmark myself for a top MBA, because I am in a similar situation (non-target graduate who will have MM Ib experience).

Wu-Tang
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May 28, 2013 - 6:32pm

hopefulinvestmentbanker:

Just a quick question. You've stated your work experience, which helped you get you into your mba program, but would you mind showing your GMAT and other credentials which qualified you into your M7 mba. How was your leadership/ volunteer experience? I am trying to benchmark myself for a top MBA, because I am in a similar situation (non-target graduate who will have MM Ib experience).

From my experience, benchmarking ends up being pretty meaningless because there are hundreds of people that match a schools stats and only a small fraction of them will be admitted. I know a few people with stats similar to mine that got rejected everywhere they applied (M7) this year. But if you must:

White/Male/Finance
G.P.A. 3.7 (non-target)
GMAT: 760
Leadership / Volunteer: Strong -- I have leadership involvement in some unique community events.
Extracurriculars: Nothing particularly unique, although I have a broad reach of activities ranging from sports to personal intellectual pursuits that span back to college days.

CompBanker

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May 28, 2013 - 8:08pm

CompBanker:

hopefulinvestmentbanker:

Just a quick question. You've stated your work experience, which helped you get you into your mba program, but would you mind showing your GMAT and other credentials which qualified you into your M7 mba. How was your leadership/ volunteer experience? I am trying to benchmark myself for a top MBA, because I am in a similar situation (non-target graduate who will have MM Ib experience).

From my experience, benchmarking ends up being pretty meaningless because there are hundreds of people that match a schools stats and only a small fraction of them will be admitted. I know a few people with stats similar to mine that got rejected everywhere they applied (M7) this year. But if you must:

White/Male/Finance
G.P.A. 3.7 (non-target)
GMAT: 760
Leadership / Volunteer: Strong -- I have leadership involvement in some unique community events.
Extracurriculars: Nothing particularly unique, although I have a broad reach of activities ranging from sports to personal intellectual pursuits that span back to college days.

Thank you very much. I just need to understand how much I need to work to upgrade my stats, even though its something that I will worry about 5 years from now.

Wu-Tang
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May 29, 2013 - 12:58pm

KaySpectre:

you didn't get in Harvard, what happened?? I always thought your good.
I presume Yale then.

Yale isn't an M7 school. The remaining choices are Chicago, Northwestern, Columbia, and MIT.

May 29, 2013 - 6:08pm

What is the general situation for internationals (TRUE Internationals, that is, kids who have lived in another country all their life and did their undergrad over there, as well as most of their work ex, not those who claim Iranian heritage or something for admissions purposes)?

I know that many are being funded by rich parents and had a backdoor entry.

I have also heard from a few sources that those who make it on their own can have a tough time getting a good job in the US. Barring the biggest funds and banks, others will hesitate to sponsor an H1B, and other lucrative areas like marketing/brand management etc are extremely hard to get because of the cultural divide. Not sure about consulting.

Considering the huge investment, I have been trying to get a clearer picture. I know for a fact that Asians at Rotman have a REALLY hard time making a career switch. Engineering seems to be the only field where internationals (at least Asians) seem to have an easier time.

Thanks in advance for any opinions/inputs.

Jan 11, 2014 - 5:45am

Krauser - a confirmation 8 months late, but still one nonetheless for any international seeking an answer to your query:

Speaking as a true international and M7 grad, i would say do the MBA only if (i) you plan to work back in your home country (or where you can legally work) post-MBA; or (ii) you are set on Consulting/IBD/PE (and only at the largest firms, and PE only if you have the right pre-MBA background usually) as these are generally the only places which will sponsor a H1B. The H1B issue will be a constant sword hanging over your head. 90% of the US MBA job market is probably closed to you due to your international status unless you have a very unique pre-MBA background or you did your undergrad in the US.

The MBA will probably be the most amazing 2 years of your life (and even for your significant other) but as an international you really should factor the above into your ROI calculus before paying up what is undoubtedly a princely sum in your home country (well ...excluding places where your currency/average savings trumps the USD). I'm thinking if you hark from for eg. Africa/China/India etc. and do not come from wealth, the MBA really would be a pretty life-changing financial investment (doubly so if your significant other quits his/her job to join you).

"What is the general situation for internationals (TRUE Internationals, that is, kids who have lived in another country all their life and did their undergrad over there, as well as most of their work ex, not those who claim Iranian heritage or something for admissions purposes)?

I know that many are being funded by rich parents and had a backdoor entry.

I have also heard from a few sources that those who make it on their own can have a tough time getting a good job in the US. Barring the biggest funds and banks, others will hesitate to sponsor an H1B, and other lucrative areas like marketing/brand management etc are extremely hard to get because of the cultural divide. Not sure about consulting.

Considering the huge investment, I have been trying to get a clearer picture. I know for a fact that Asians at Rotman have a REALLY hard time making a career switch. Engineering seems to be the only field where internationals (at least Asians) seem to have an easier time.

Thanks in advance for any opinions/inputs."

Jan 12, 2014 - 4:21pm

Still useful, I haven't decided on the MBA yet. So thanks.

I don't have a finance background (I am in technology sector), so I am looking at the MBA for product management, consulting and VC roles , maybe even marketing and strategy.

What's your opinion on these?

May 29, 2013 - 10:57pm

it's a high risk high reward opportunity anyway you cut it. If you worked in the biz, you should know that everything has a price. Your MBA tuition is already being cut and sliced and diced ready to be sold to some investor for his portfolio. Your losses in student loans will be his gain. From someone who's been in the biz for years, never underestimate the guy on the other side of the trade. If you paid too much, you're screwed.

Sep 1, 2013 - 8:23pm

@"CompBanker", do you think that an MBA entails more or less risk than continuing to work and investing the money?

"He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man." ― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Sep 28, 2013 - 10:18pm

CompBanker:

There has been a lot of recent discussion on these forums as well as in the media regarding the value of an MBA. As a longtime member of the community and someone who recently made the decision to pursue an MBA, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

You can see my full background story here: //www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-i-got-in...

In summary, I went to a relatively unknown undergrad in New England where I received a degree in MIS. I went on to do two years of investment banking at an MM doing sell-side M&A. I then did two years of MM leveraged buyouts in a pre-MBA role before switching to a competitive MM leveraged buyouts shop in a partner track role (post-MBA role with no MBA).

Despite the fact that I am on a partner track without having an MBA, I made the choice to pursue b-school. I'll have six years of experience when I matriculate this fall. I am very happy in my current job and will likely pursue very similar opportunities upon graduating. I won't be receiving any employer sponsorship nor have I been guaranteed a position when I graduate. I'll be attending one of the M7 schools (not H/S/W – they all rejected me).

First of all, I don't think an MBA makes sense for everyone. It ultimately comes down to a combination of career path, adversity to risk, financial situation, geography, etc. There is no one-size fits all formula; you'll need to decide for yourself if it is a good fit for you. There is also no hard and fast line for which MBA programs are worth it and which ones are not. For some people, only Harvard/Stanford/Wharton are worth it. For others, a top 50 program could be the boost they need to get on the right track. Ignore any discussion where people try to value an individual school without regard to the applicant's individual circumstances.

Many people cite the cost of an MBA, combined with the opportunity cost, as the single biggest reason that it is "not worth it." For me, the cost was never a consideration, though the total cost of attending will likely exceed seven figures (opportunity cost included). I like to believe that I have very modest expenses in life relative to my income. I don't enjoy expensive dinners, don't drink more than a few drinks when I go out, and I have no interest in a fancy car/boat/yacht. I've saved all of my annual bonuses without ever having to pass up an opportunity due to money. For me, the biggest inhibitor of maximizing my happiness has always been a lack of time, not money.

Wealth alone doesn't bring happiness; it just enables us to afford experiences and things that make us happy. While the cost of an MBA is very high, I view it as an opportunity to have unforgettable experiences while I'm young without negatively impacting my career. Without including the five vacations (week+ long) that I've taken in the nearly six years I've been working, I haven't had more than two straight weeks off since high school! This summer I will take advantage of my nearly three months off before school to build my language skills in Latin America, explore cities in Europe I've never been to, and visit friends and family in the U.S. that I haven't spent time with in years since I live in a different city. And the best part is that employers won't view it as a "hole in my employment history" as it is generally accepted to take time off before starting an MBA program. I don't think I will have another opportunity like this for the rest of my career unless I lose my job or retire.

Money aside, I also place a lot of value the learning aspect of business school. Given I have an MIS degree, everything I know about finance has been learned on the job. While I am rapidly reaching the point where intricate accounting / finance knowledge is not required to be successful in my job, I do encounter situations where I have no idea what my CFO is trying to explain to me. Things such as utilizing standard costing come intuitively to my peers who studied accounting, but require extra effort for me to understand. There is also a whole world of finance that I have never been exposed to (derivatives, hedging, heck the entire stock market) that I feel will improve my ability to perform my job. This is an often overlooked part of business school that I think people should take into consideration when thinking about applying.

Even if you completely negate the learning aspect of an MBA, the intangibles alone are reason enough for me to get an MBA. These intangibles come in many forms: (1) credibility, (2) network, (3) executive presence, (4) risk mitigation, and (5) option value.

Credibility. The combination of attending undergrad at a university few on Wall Street have heard of and working at small institutions, there is nothing in my bio that gives me credibility. Sure, I can eventually earn respect through performance and results, but often times a lack of credibility can prevent my ever being given that shot. I'm constantly meeting with people that judge my credibility. Current and prospective executives of investments, bankers, lenders, and down the line when I am more senior, limited partners. For me and many others, attending a top tier MBA will enable me to gain this credibility.

Network. This is the one intangible benefit of an MBA program that people latch onto, and rightfully so. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen senior professionals tap into their alumni network to learn more about a particularly industry, transaction, or opportunity. Furthermore, if you're looking to change jobs, having a network of people that are willing to take your call and assist you is invaluable.

Executive Presence. The vast majority of junior professionals lack the ability to articulate their thoughts in a structured, cohesive, and concise manor. Their opinions are often discounted or ignored due to this fact alone. When someone delivers an opinion with confidence and conviction, they come across and knowledgeable and intelligent. B-school is an opportunity for people to develop this soft skill through frequent interactions with others when there is no pre-determined seniority. Executive presence is not only valuable on the job, but one of the defining characteristics of leadership.

Risk Mitigation. Things change in life, particularly in the financial services industry. Private Equity appears to be contracting as many established firms are unsuccessful fundraising. I work at a relatively small firm where the departure or incapacitation of a couple individuals could force us to wind up the fund. There are many factors outside of my control that could force me to find a new job despite how well I perform. Opportunities are few and far between at the post-MBA level and I would be at a serious disadvantage without one. I have yet to read a job description for a PE professional that didn't state "top-tier MBA required" or at least "preferred." I view the MBA as risk mitigation in the event that I find myself in such a situation.

Option Value. Many people go into MBA programs after only three to five years on the job. Usually they've only worked in one type of job their whole career, be it M&A, consulting, logistics, you name it. These career paths often build a very specific skillset and do not give you exposure to alternative career paths. While I've had the good fortune of getting exposure to a wide variety of companies, I don't know the first thing about product management, marketing, etc. An MBA gives you broad exposure to and dare I say a rough skillset in each of these categories. This exposure will not only bolster my ability to work in PE but also widen my options through developing a broad skillset in the event PE doesn't work out.

Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

I like to believe that I am a pretty self-aware individual. My thoughts have continued to evolve as I've progressed through my career and I recognize that they will continue to change. I'm not entirely sure if I will feel the same way about obtaining an MBA after completing the program or even ten years from now. What I do know is that the window to gain acceptance to top programs is very narrow and it is "now or never." The majority of applicants that are admitted to the top programs are in their twenties and 2-6 years into their career (broadly – most seem to be 3-5 years). I will likely never have the same opportunities available to me in the future if I postpone the decision. That is one risk that I'm not willing to take.

Very insightful, tracked for posterity

http://ayainsight.co/ Curating the best advice and making it actionable.

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Dec 26, 2013 - 11:00pm

Bra-fucking-vo. It's hard for me to not think you already have your 5 points covered, but the free 3 months will truly be priceless. I'll (hopefully) be in your shoes in about 4-5 years, and relish the opportunity to actually have a vacation. Best of luck!!!

Dec 26, 2013 - 11:42pm

The most articulate and thoughtful defense of an MBA I have EVER read. Very well done, sir. I was blown away when I first read it, but as a current first-year, the post rings even more true.

Dec 27, 2013 - 5:00pm

+1

I've seen many MBA articles but this is one of the best.

Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of run. - Kipling
Dec 28, 2013 - 4:01am

Best opinion on MBA acceptance Ive ever read. Really insightful and articulated! MBA for me is still a long way ahead (3-5 yrs), but I see likely I will pursue this road one day in the near future. Hope you enjoy the MBA program and make the best out of it.

Jan 4, 2014 - 12:09pm

This guy is chatting complete shit.

If you are going to HBS or Stanford you're coming out with $150k negative. You absolutely HAVE to get a highly paid job and on a net income basis you will not save a red cent after all your costs, tax, loan repayments are done.

An MBA seriously is only worth it if 1) you pay in cash 2) an employer pays for it in cash 3) you are borrowing a reasonable amount and have very solid experience i.e 5years of solid experience not two years of arrogant experience doing powerpoint and excel at Mck or GS. Skills which I may add any junior employee has at almost every industry.

Jan 4, 2014 - 5:48pm

You seem extremely angry and bitter. Like the other anti-MBA crusaders out there, you are unable to respond intelligently to the pro-MBA arguments.

Couple of thoughts.

1. PAYE now places a cap on how much you pay annually towards loans, assuming they are government loans. It's 10% of annual adjusted gross income.

2. Every empirical study has shown that an MBA from a top school is worth it in the long-run. Yes, you take out a shitload in loans, but it's an investment you are making for the rest of your professional career.

3. No idea what you mean by "arrogant experience." This is a total non sequitur. Do you mean that the people who work at those firms are arrogant? Or are banking and consulting somehow "arrogant" jobs? You are not making sense here. Also, although you are technically right that a lot of the analyst work at McKinsey/Goldman are powerpoint and excel based, you still learn a shit ton at those jobs, and they give you great exit opps. If they were totally worthless, as you seem to imply, why do top PE firms and hedge funds covet Goldman analysts? Why do McKinsey analysts have such a high acceptance rate into the top b-schools? Think about that for a second before spewing for your drivel in this thread.

Jan 4, 2014 - 5:52pm

mbavsmfin:
. Yes, you take out a shitload in loans, but it's an investment you are making for the rest of your professional career.

Exactly that. Plus don't forget that you get to have 2 years of fun as a student again. Pretty cool I think.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Jan 5, 2014 - 3:18pm

Another SB. I keep coming back to this post, great write up.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right." -Warren Buffett
Jan 8, 2014 - 9:54pm

CompBanker:

I like to believe that I am a pretty self-aware individual. My thoughts have continued to evolve as I've progressed through my career and I recognize that they will continue to change. I'm not entirely sure if I will feel the same way about obtaining an MBA after completing the program or even ten years from now. What I do know is that the window to gain acceptance to top programs is very narrow and it is "now or never." The majority of applicants that are admitted to the top programs are in their twenties and 2-6 years into their career (broadly – most seem to be 3-5 years). I will likely never have the same opportunities available to me in the future if I postpone the decision. That is one risk that I'm not willing to take.

Lots of great insights in the post, but this was my favorite part. Kudos to being objective while standing by your own opinion.

Given the window into top program is so narrow, what about folks who are trying to boost their resume by getting a MFin to make up for 'taking the wrong route in undergrad'? What happens when they are interested in getting an MBA for all the same reasons you mentioned?

Then is getting an MFin worth it at this point, or is getting an MBA on top of the MFin (and work experience) sensible?

Everybody welcome to chime in.

Jan 12, 2014 - 11:40pm

finally figured out how to unsubscribe to this nonsense. MBA is a negative EV at these prices lol. Another year goes by I make a nice income and bonus. what you get but an envelope in the mail asking you to send a check LOL.

May 23, 2014 - 8:07am

"For me, the biggest inhibitor of maximizing my happiness has always been a lack of time, not money."

"That dude is so haole, he don't even have any breath left."
May 23, 2014 - 3:21pm

+1 for this. I am in a very similar position where I am comfortable about where I am and I do not need the MBA to continue up the ranks in my family office. I thought about why I wanted an MBA and I came to largely the same conclusions although I think Credibility is a good one that I had not thought of before and is less applicable to me. Also, this is much more eloquently written.

May 29, 2014 - 11:28am

CorpFinanceGuy:

@CompBanker - I keep checking for an encore to this.


I'll do a follow-up in late June once the year is over and I've had some time to put my thoughts down.

CompBanker

Jun 20, 2014 - 9:45pm

@CompBanker , please do. This post is one of my all-time favorite WSO posts.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right." -Warren Buffett
Jun 30, 2014 - 9:12am

CompBanker:

CorpFinanceGuy:

@CompBanker - I keep checking for an encore to this.

I'll do a follow-up in late June once the year is over and I've had some time to put my thoughts down.

Please do. This was an amazing post. Also, when you do a follow-up, please comment on the actual cost of MBA vs. the COA on school web sites.

Jun 20, 2014 - 7:49am

I Quote:"The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money… The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself…The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk." I am founding into a clothing venture with the hopes of earning enough profit to pay of my undergrad loans. Thank you most of all for restating these few ideas, as I needed them reaffirmed the most. An MBA is definitely on the horizon for me.

Benjamin A Gilman Scholar Economics & Finance, Mandarin Chinese & Japanese Small Business VP
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Jun 22, 2014 - 9:08am

Getting a full time MBA only makes sense if you are leveraging it to get into a different position, or if getting the degree is expected to increase your pay exponentially. If you finish the MBA and end up getting a job in the same field making the same pay you were making when you started, then you just wasted half a million dollars as well as two years you could have been using to build your career.

For most people in your situation who are already on a partner track, are happy in their current job, and will be looking for similar positions after graduating, pursuing a full time MBA is not a wise decision and part time programs may be a better option. There are plenty of ways to network with professionals in your field that won't cost you $250k and two years of salary. Also, you can learn everything you need to know about finance, accounting, executive presence, and any other area for free at your local library or by taking night classes while you continue to work. I'm not arguing with the credibility and value of a top tier MBA, but I would not recommend pursuing one simply for the networking and learning aspects. While I hold an MBA myself and I understand that cost and return on investment is not a factor for you, this is a key consideration in the decision to get a full time MBA for most people.

Apr 23, 2016 - 8:18pm

This was great, thank you for spending the time to write it. I'm transitioning out of the Marines after 8 years, and have been struggling to decide on whether an MBA program is worth it for me, or if I should just finish my undergrad and get to work. Much appreciated.

May 6, 2016 - 4:44pm

In my view I finished my undergrad and went straight into the work space because I wanted to work, after several years of eye popping experience not just the work but people behaviours, politics, lack of appreciation and zero changes of being moved up the ladder in relation to my career, I decided to go for an MBA. Yes, an MBA is not for everyone and it really depends on what one really wants from a career. In my case being a scientist curiousity is part of who I am and the need to always ask why why and why? Growing up I hated business, finance and economics but as I worked in various industries I started to notice that the one thing that made all the companies that I work for profitable was about understanding; Research and development which could only work if there was the funding for it capital and understanding how tha capital worked (working capital).

This also opened my eyes to understanding the valuation of a company, why some analysts get it wrong and why get it right, an MBA will provide the tools to understand this as well as areas of marketing, debt ratio's, elastic and inelastic dynamics, productivity, change managament, LBO, CAPM, Risk, EBITDA, NOPAT, Stocks (common/preffered/treasury), currencies and how it affects productivity, bonds, Where a company gets its culture from (Kant, Ross etc), Customer relation management, leadership (There are different types) and it being different from management, variable costs, business communication which gets over looked in so many schools, how to give a great presentation by getting to the point and not wasting peoples time (greater chance of getting a promotion), the list goes on and on.

I hope this helps.

Want to Lose the body fat, keep the muscles, I can help.
  • 2
Nov 10, 2016 - 7:13am

Have you considered a degree outside the US? And how about the specialised masters in finance from Cambridge Business School?

The Cambridge MFin focuses on the theory and practice of finance, drawing upon the University of Cambridge's long heritage of excellence in teaching and research. Ranked #1 by Financial Times 2016 www.cambridgemfin.com
Aug 9, 2017 - 1:01am

to piggyback on what CompBanker said about the decision between part-time and full-time MBAs, I think it is worth discussing the difference in experience, recruiting, free time, and overall value.

I would argue that the pure "name brand value" of say a top 20 MBA has gone down some over some time as there are more and more MBA programs sprouting up, think the large amount of Part time MBAs, online MBAs, etc etc. For example, IU Kelley and UNC Kenan Flagler both have online MBA programs now. However, to me, the Top 3 programs, H/S/W, M7 and other elite MBA programs still carry a golden reputation as their class sizes are capped and the networks of all their alumni are impressive/recruiting and salaries. In my case, I actually started off in a part-time MBA program, think Top 15, decided to attend for 6 months, and then ultimately felt that the benefits I was getting from the experience weren't worth it. First off, the tuition in a part-time MBA program is basically the same as a FT one, with the exception that you still get your salary. However, I would argue that by keeping your current job, it actually makes it highly difficult to put in the time or effort to successfully land a role in a new industry. Furthermore, in my experience, the part timers are treated as 2nd class citizens from On Campus Recruiting and the full timers get the vast majority of resources from the staff of the program. In my opinion, the benefits from the full time program (via better connections and network, better recruiting, more access to clubs and activities, personal growth and maturity development, ability to build permanent social bonds), greatly outweigh the "savings" from still getting your salary from your job for the 2 years of the program. Let's be honest, the majority of MBA students are not making PE $$$ like CompBanker pre-MBA. For the people that are seriously concerned about time away from the workforce, Columbia and some of the Top Euro programs allow you to finish the program in 1.5 or 1 year total.

To me, the MBA is one of the clearest and smartest ways to improve your career opportunities and path to advancement. Look at the statistics for pre-MBA to post MBA salaries among the Top 20 programs (the Financial Times publishes this information). During my part time MBA, I would basically work my 55+ hours a week, spend all my nights studying for my weekend classes and exams, then spend saturday and sunday every 2 weeks at the MBA program and then rush back to my home city for my day job. Of course, I became a zombie and had zero free time. In addition, the social bonds and the positive impact of the material I was studying was limited at best. It took a heavy toll on me and I strongly believe that it's impossible to be successful in your office job and successful in your part time MBA (assuming you hold very high standards). I ultimately have decided to pursue a full-time MBA at a top 5 program and believe that it will much more beneficial to my long term growth. Keep in mind though, I am someone who is looking to pivot out of a finance role and into consulting and believe that an elite full-time program will give me the best odds to do so. In short, I am warning people on here that plan to make a significant career switch, think corporate into consulting or banking, finance into tech, XYZ into consulting, to pursue a full-time MBA and then commit a significant amount of time to recruiting to land their dream job.

Don't be like me and let it take you 6 months of time, courses, and extra $ to realize this decision. Part time MBAs are fine if you're looking for the stamp on your resume to either get promoted or check a box, but not for a major career switch. I am sure there are exceptions to this rule but I think it's better to be safe than sorry. Plus, how bad is it to spend 2 years with other smart, fun, and ambitious professionals, pursue your interests, build your resume, and not have to worry about working for a certain period of time??

Finally, a few other tidbits I learned from the MBA recruiting process. There is substantial scholarship to be had if you are willing to step down in quality of your MBA program, and that MBA student loans have an awfully high interest rate and I sure wish I had saved more $ in my pre-MBA career so I wouldn't have to be calling Sallie Mae or ask my family for some aid :)

IVY for Life
  • 6
Aug 29, 2017 - 4:44pm

In hindsight how far down the rankings ladder would you have gone for the scholarship money?

"All men are alike in their dreams, and all men are alike in the promises they make. The difference is what they do."— Jean Baptiste Moliere
Oct 9, 2017 - 6:21pm

I can't help but think that most people who say MBA's are wastes of money are those who either a) say it out of spite because they don't have one but are competing with many that do, or b) did an MBA without knowing what they wanted or thought that the program itself would make some type of light go off as to what they were meant to do next.

At the end of the day, the MBA is meant to help you take the next step in your career. Whether that step be breaking into IB, receiving a prestigious education, or developing a better network, if you know what that next step is for you, have reasonable resources to take it, and a relentless work ethic, there's no doubt in my mind that an MBA would be beneficial.

Nov 1, 2017 - 1:20pm

Thank you for your thoughts on MBA programs, CompBanker. I'm currently a recent hire and plan to pursue an MBA degree after 2-3 years of experience. What discourages me the most is the price of tuition but I guess that can be offset when you take in all the benefits of having credibility and networking opportunities. I would like to hear if any WSO readers out there who feels MBA is not worth it? Any feedback appreciated.

Mar 3, 2018 - 10:54am
Shaun-Mullins:

Would you encourage a well to do individual to enroll in an MBA program ranked 100?

I don't think it makes sense to make a decision based on a few isolated factors. The whole picture needs to be considered in nearly every case. People derive value from an MBA in so many different ways. Some want to maximize earnings, some want the branding, others the education, some the vacation, some the job change opportunity. Absent having a complete understanding of these motivators as well as knowing a host of different personal values and objectives, I wouldn't be totally comfortable encouraging or discouraging you from pursuing an MBA of any caliber.

CompBanker

  • 3
Apr 26, 2018 - 10:06am

To Anyone considering an MBA, if you were a liberal arts major, when you get to finance or financial accounting don't panic. I personally want to torture all the inventors, supporters, and all parties who played a part in the field of finance. We should abolish waterboarding and replace it with MBA finance classes until people give us what we want. They will! Nobel prize for the Black Sholes formula, it was a weapon of mass destruction created to make me weep days before finals. Derivatives, just a cruel weapon of torture.
Rant complete!
Whatever the first guy said!!

"All men are alike in their dreams, and all men are alike in the promises they make. The difference is what they do."— Jean Baptiste Moliere
  • 3
May 18, 2018 - 12:51pm

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May 20, 2018 - 7:32pm

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Does the Tiger fire the Monkey? Does the Tiger transfer the Monkey to another branch?
Aug 13, 2018 - 7:38am

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Oct 25, 2018 - 8:44am

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CompBanker

Dec 17, 2018 - 12:45am

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