Being an Indian, you are usually born into the idea that you need to study, study, study and this is the only path to success. A lot of people loose sight of why they are in a particular field of study and never think to question for a moment whether what they are doing is something they are truly interested in.
When I was back home in India about a year back, I met a family friend who asked me what I was doing, I explained that I had completed my undergraduate studies in the UK and started to work at an Investment Bank. His next question to me was not what I did at the bank, but rather when I planned to do my Masters. This is the attitude with which most people in India live in today, there is no questioning of why we want to do certain things, but rather follow a predetermined path because it is the “right” thing to do.
Having lived abroad for a few years now, I’ve grown more independent and started to question certain things. One thought that has been most pressing on my mind, especially for the past few months is whether I want to do an MBA. While this seems to be the general trend, and getting in to one of the top schools opens up a number of opportunities, I’m forced to compare this to continuing my professional career.
So what do MBA schools have to offer? Many boast about the average salaries ($150k-$200k, depending on the college) after graduation, but if you look a little deeper, this isn’t so surprising. Considering most of them end up in the Financial sector this is the average salary in the industry.
So salary is not a reason to do the MBA. Progression up the corporate ladder? Well, not quite. If you are not planning on switching industries, you probably have a better chance if you stay with the job you are at. Most multi national’s hire MBA graduates at an “Associate” level, which isn’t spectacular. Personally, if I stick with my current job and stay at the firm 2 years rather than do my MBA (which takes the same about of time in most schools), I’m pretty sure I’d make Vice President (one up from Associate).
That rules out climbing the corporate ladder. Am I being too superficial about what the MBA brings to the table? Is it more about the experience and the people you meet that could make an impact on your life in the longer term? This is the most likely true and in my opinion the only reason that someone should do an MBA. The academic content of the course you could learn anywhere, but the exposure in terms of access to glabal projects, and building a network that could otherwise take you a lifetime, is something the course could potentially offer. Most importantly, being in academic environment, generally gives you a breadth of knowledge and time to think beyond the present – work on the other hand, forces you to live in the now and be reactive rather than give you time to think, plan and strategise.
You could argue that this isn’t true for a lot of jobs, but irrespective of the field or the type of work you may do, there is only one reason you are doing it, to fix or improve the immediate business you are a part of. While in college, you are responsible for nothing, there is no business or money at stake and you are free to wander and dream of anything you want. You are never criticised for a mistake and encouraged to think out of the box.
While doing an MBA or continuing a professional career, both have it’s own merits, at the end of the day it is up to the individual to decide what their preference may be. Have I been able to make this decision? Not yet, and I have this very debate in my head everyday. So today, I decided that since I have a blog which I haven’t touched for almost a year and it’s about time I changed that!