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MBA adventure - how did it start for you?

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MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 03:33
My adventure began in a completely random way. Before going to Philly, I lived in a country (Belgium) where MBA studies were not very valued, if at all. So basically, despite hearing about it, I never thought of doing one, also because I thought I didn't have a chance to get in with my career background.

Then one day in September 2007, I had a lunch with a former colleague of mine from a previous job, who became a friend. He told me that he was going to Chicago to do an LLM (roughly the equivalent of an MBA for law). I was very impressed by his achievement. He then told me that I should seriously consider doing an MBA, with my profile. I was really surprised that he thought I was going to have a chance, but he managed to convince me. He told me everything there was to know about getting scholarships, applying, organising the visa, getting the right resources, etc. And after an hour or two (yes, we love long lunches in Europe :-) ), I went from "I'll never do an MBA" state of mind to "I actually have a shot at getting into a decent school!".

To make a long story short, it was a complete coincidence; had I not had that lunch I would probably still be in Brussels right now, with way fewer career opportunities than now. Thanks Maxime.

I almost cancelled that lunch.

Would love to hear from other people, how they started their adventure; was it programmed or also coincidence?
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 04:37
Kind of programmed here. I decided not to go into the Commerce school at the University of Virginia because of my decision that I wanted to go get an MBA later in my career (and chose to pursue degrees in Foreign Affairs, Economics, and Physics instead). Thus, I had decided pretty much since my 2nd year of college that B-school was in my future.

As for timing, it came naturally. After one year, I knew I was still learning and didn't want to forgot it for business school. After two years, I felt that I was plateauing and decided the time was right to apply - timing worked well for being three years out at matriculation - I was ready for school and school was ready for me.

Unfortunately no "aha" moment - but did spend a lot of time talking with colleagues and mentors about when and whether b-school was a good choice at the time.
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 07:28
My MBA adventure started after the military didn't release me from my first assignment to go to grad school. During my senior year I was accepted to Duke to do my masters in electrical engineering. I even had a defense-related research project lined up and was offered a lucrative part-time job by a professor because I had an active security clearance. Needless to say I was pretty bummed when I found out I wasn't going to grad school.

I still had the desire to get my masters, so I started looking at graduate programs near my first assignment. Initially, I limited my search to graduate engineering programs, but after some soul-searching I realized I didn't even like engineering (3.1 GPA is evidence of this). In fact, the only reason I studied EE was to get an ROTC scholarship.

I eventually stumbled upon the MBA, which I learned was designed to produce leaders in business, nonprofit, and even public service. I found the MBA appealing because leadership is a big interest of mine (probably due to the brainwashing I experienced in ROTC). Also, I knew I didn't want to stay in the military forever and so I saw the MBA as a good transition to civilian life.

Not getting to do my masters in EE ended up being a huge blessing in disguise. Now, I have the opportunity to pursue what truly interests me. I had planned on applying this year, but I'm going to hold off because I have a pretty sweet assignment lined up and I want to put in a couple more years to get the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

Audio wrote:
My adventure began in a completely random way. Before going to Philly, I lived in a country (Belgium) where MBA studies were not very valued, if at all. So basically, despite hearing about it, I never thought of doing one, also because I thought I didn't have a chance to get in with my career background.

Then one day in September 2007, I had a lunch with a former colleague of mine from a previous job, who became a friend. He told me that he was going to Chicago to do an LLM (roughly the equivalent of an MBA for law). I was very impressed by his achievement. He then told me that I should seriously consider doing an MBA, with my profile. I was really surprised that he thought I was going to have a chance, but he managed to convince me. He told me everything there was to know about getting scholarships, applying, organising the visa, getting the right resources, etc. And after an hour or two (yes, we love long lunches in Europe :-) ), I went from "I'll never do an MBA" state of mind to "I actually have a shot at getting into a decent school!".

To make a long story short, it was a complete coincidence; had I not had that lunch I would probably still be in Brussels right now, with way fewer career opportunities than now. Thanks Maxime.

I almost cancelled that lunch.

Would love to hear from other people, how they started their adventure; was it programmed or also coincidence?
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 08:11
My journey started when I graduated from college, and shortly thereafter my mom started asking me about my plans for grad school. "A college degree isn't enough anymore ... these days you need a Masters to compete down the road ..." etc. etc. "Yeah yeah I'll look into it", I replied.

For me, getting a technical masters for my field (i.e. M.S. Computer Science or M.S. Information Systems) wasn't an attractive option; the reason I chose my major (similar to MIS) rather than CompSci was because I wanted to be less technically-focused and more business-focused. Granted, I have since taken on many technical roles in my career, but I have always envisioned a diversion into the business side of things. Solution? MBA!

The catch with an MBA, I learned, was that you really shouldn't do it until you get some experience under your belt. My mom didn't agree with this, but to her defense she was used to people in other areas (education, engineering) getting their masters right away, the idea being that "if you don't do it early, you'll never do it". Of course, I offered my counterarguments, but I gave her the impression that I'd look into grad school in a few years.

Sure enough, after a couple years in the workplace, I began to research some local MBA programs. For many MIS-type grads like myself, an MBA seemed to be simply a means of speeding up the typical MIS career path: analyst to team lead to manager, etc., etc. up the chain to program manager and then who knows what. With that goal in mind (moving up in the IT industry), part-time MBA programs definitely fit the bill. There were a couple of solid options for programs in the DC area (Georgetown and Maryland), so my choices were pretty easy.

However, a funny thing happened when I started to fill out the applications: I actually spent time to really think about the career goals essays (I know ... CRAZY). I began to think to myself, "Wait ... I don't want to be an IT project manager ... in fact ... I wan't to get far away from dealing with code ..." My essays shifted towards a focus in marketing and product management; still in the tech industry, but definitely a diversion from what I was headed towards. As a result, and after continued research into these part-time programs, I realized that for me, the way to go would be with a full-time MBA program.

For me, a full-time program became the obvious choice. I was lucky to be able to speak with a few tech product managers, some who had their [full-time] MBA and some who did not. 100% they all recommended that I go back to school full-time, and I agreed. I had already completed the part-time application process, but I quickly declined offers from the schools. From then on, it's been full-time MBA on my mind, and I'm still amped to get started.
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 10:18
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I grew up in Europe as well, only a little bit east of Belgium - in Eastern Europe. As a kid I saw the concept of business go from "mean greedy people trying to take advantage of their comrades" to "the only way to make more that $8 per day" when the country kicked that bad habit.

My parents started a small business when I was 7 (one year after communism fell and business was no longer a bad word) and picked the area of business that carried the lowest risk in a country that survives on bread - a Bakery. For the next 13 years every family endeavor I can remember involved intriguing projects such as daily money management, tackling employee theft, surviving state sponsored monopolies and racketeering by criminal groups born from the transition, marketing to tough crowds, forecasting of sales, vertical and horizontal business expansions, and living with House mortgages number 1 through 15. My contributions to the business over the years ranged from sweeping the yard to overseeing sales and employees. I learned to use a computer so that I can do accounting spreadsheets; learned to do marketing by creating ads; and learned two foreign languages, which I used to hunt for discounted equipment from Western Europe; I also remember staying up late as a kid and wondering why the hell would employees steal flower from the bakery at night, or why would they smoke right next to highly explosive flower dust... fun times. (I did try to stop the smoking by hiding copper wire in one employees cigarettes - it kept the cigarette ashes from falling and was fun to watch, but instead of stopping the smoking they started pulling the prank on each other) .

In the mean time I also learned web-development and started doing that freelance for companies all over europe (including one for a firm Belgium) while I was still in high-school and that last one turned into a career.

I came to the US for college and double majored in technology and business because I knew I would eventually get bored with one and move on to the other. In the mean time, every job I took I did as if it was my own company. I pitched new product/business models to each company I worked for, some I saw through to implementation, others failed for one reason or another. I also kept my business problem solving itches at bay by volunteering as a small business consultant to several businesses every year and writing a blog. I stayed in technology for many reasons - the salary was twice that of the highest paid business jobs my classmates held, it opened up wonderful opportunities for innovation, and I was reaching the peaks of my profession with some projects viewed by millions of people in a day. However the business problems the companies I worked for kept being more and more enticing.

I've wanted an MBA since I found out about it when I started college in the US. I even paid a visit to Wharton while I was still in school. I've been reading MBA curriculum books (Amazon had some good lists, and I jotted down titles from the MBA section of the UPenn bookstore) and I'm looking into good general management programs and plan on taking classes that would give me a well rounded perspective.
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 15:00
To mba12tech: cool story, I loved the part when you actually THOUGHT about your career. What are you thinking mate?? :-)

To MBAGirl2010: if you need any help with Wharton, you can always count on your neighbour to help - I'm from Romania :-)

Anyway, interesting to see the people's different path, from completely guided to total coincidence. Would love to read some more.
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you? [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2009, 18:13
Audio wrote:
To MBAGirl2010: if you need any help with Wharton, you can always count on your neighbour to help - I'm from Romania :-)


Its a small world! I am actually flying into Bucharest this weekend. I am 1/3 Romanian and my brother studies architecture in Bucharest. It just so happens that my husband and I are going for a tour of the city next week. Do you have any recommendations of things to see? I'll send you a PM about the rest - I'd really appreciate any help I can get.
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Re: MBA adventure - how did it start for you?   [#permalink] 23 Jul 2009, 18:13
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