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Hi, I am an engineer with more than 12 years of experience in the area of Integrated Circuit design (mostly in networking/computer area). I'm an Indian national, with an bachelor degree in engineering, and currently employed with a good fabless semiconductor company, and placed in Asia. I'm 34, and very much interested to do a full time MBA from a top B school in USA. After going through a number of discussions in various forums, I'm feeling that my age might not work in my favor. However I am posting this message with the hope of getting some candid and conclusive answers specific to my situation.
My intention to do MBA is mostly to do with my ambition to pursue a career in business management, and it would certainly mean a switch of career (from the very technology specific job that I have been doing). I came across the suggestions in a few forums that an executive MBA is best suited for a candidate of my age, however in my case it might not be so. In the technology companies, MBAs are not sought after (a Phd is more respected) to move in the technology ladder. I don't have any prior management experience. My extra-curricular list is not impressive either.
I come from a strong mathematical/statistical and analytical background. I'm not married, I shall be able to finance my MBA. A technology job in California at my current level pays around the same as the median salary for fresh grads from the top B schools.
Do you think it will be difficult for me to get into a good B school, and then chose a different career (in technology management, strategy, business consulting) at this age, and will most likely be sidelined by companies when it comes to recruitment? My current experience is probably not going to align with any of the specializations or even general management. So in literal sense, I don't have much to offer, except for a strong desire to overcome my current situation, and do something that I always wanted to.
I'm very keen to give a fresh breath of life to my career in the management direction, and I can't think of a better alternative than MBA.
Please advise, and suggest from your experience. Appreciate a very pragmatic (even if it's discouraging) response.
You may want to look towards Europe. I have met a 36-year old chump who was going to the Manchester Business School (he was still a party animal, however, and young at heart). However, European schools seem to be much more accepting of the older candidates.
I give you a lot of credit for pursuing a degree at this stage of your career. The oldest candidate who I advised who got into a full-time (American) MBA program was 39 years old and although his credential were amazing and he did get into three great programs (Wharton, Tuck and Fuqua), the application process was a bit hit or miss.
Most business schools are going to persuade you to apply to their executive mba program for two main reasons -- first is that the EMBA option is more profitable and second they feel that you will be studying with a true peer group. If this is not the right path for you and you really want to invest in a full-time MBA, then pursue it. I would recommend that you really do your homework on each school and their receptivity for older candidates. I would also make sure that in your application that your reasoning for getting a graduate business degree is personal and compelling. Lastly, I would try to network as much as I could with admissions (visiting schools, attending information sessions) and telling your story to as many admissions officers as I could.
Try not to let negative comments persuade you from pursuing your goals. I met a woman this past fall who was 55 years old and is a first year medical student -- she applied to over 40 schools, got interviews at 2 and got into 1. I found her story inspirational and it demonstrated to me that it really is never too late to do what you want.
Being too old isn't the issue for you. I definitely don't think you are too old. However, I think you might be looking at the wrong program. With that much experience, why don't you check out an executive MBA program? This will give you a much stronger network since your classmates will be people at a similar career point as yourself, versus the full time program that will have folks who are much younger and just starting in their careers.