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Name vs Money vs Age

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Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 02 May 2012, 15:47
I'm a 29 year old ivy league graduate who has worked in finance and strategy for 6 years. As I look at future career steps, I see the increasing value of an MBA degree. For the last few months, I was considering and would have been content to attend a part-time graduate program. Upon soliciting more opinions, I was told that I should go to the best graduate school that I could get in to. An MBA follows you for life, so may as well make the most of it. I took the GMAT recently and scored within a range that would make me competitive among the top graduate school programs, but I'm not sure I want to A) go to school full time (as many of the top schools do not have part-time programs) B) go to school full time given my age (am I too old to exit the workforce for two years?) and C) incur the debt associated with such schools. I understand and appreciate the recognition that these schools get worldwide, but I fear that I may be obligated to work as a banker or consultant in order to make the salary that would allow me to pay off the debt. Neither of these are necessarily bad options, just not necessarily what I want. I have completed the CFA curriculum as well, but I'm not sure I want to reenter the financial services industry.

So overall, I'd like to know whether it may be worthwhile to pursue a top level MBA program. I want to give myself the best opportunity I can to grow my career, but I worry that at a certain point, I'm chasing a name as opposed to chasing a career strategy / making a logical choice given the financial concern.
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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 02 May 2012, 15:58
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The MBA is a means to an end. You need to figure out what your end is to determine if going for a FT MBA is right for you. I do not think that you are too old to benefit from a full-time program. I am 31 and will be matriculating in the fall. I know exactly what I want to do post-MBA and it has nothing to do with banking or consulting. Those aren't the only lucrative exit options (although I did used to think the same way).

Here are my thoughts on what a top MBA gives people: options. It gives you options in terms of industry, companies, and location. If you're at a point in your life/career where you're not really looking to go anywhere and do anything than go with the program that suits your needs. If a regional part-time program will meet your needs, then go for it. If you are looking to make a total career change and want to move about the country (or even the world) then go to the best full-time program you can get into. Ultimately, you have to figure out what's best for you.

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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 03 May 2012, 07:34
Ask yourself: what do you want to do in the long-term? And will an MBA accelerate your journey to reaching that goal?

For me, I believe that a FT MBA will provide the knowledge, network, and pedigree needed to speed up my advancement towards my very specific short and long-term goals. And by analyzing my goals and the costs/benefits of attending a top program, I think that the degree is worth it. But at the same time, I can think of many other careers/goals where an MBA would not be worth the cost.

I think that an MBA can provide a strong ROI if you're chasing a specific career path that can be bolstered by a degree. But if you're just chasing a name to put on your resume, I don't think it is nearly as valuable.

As far as a part-time MBA program, the thought process might be a bit different. A PT program may be more beneficial to you since you aren't sure what you want to do. The cost is not nearly as high and it's not such a drastic move. Plus...most of the ultra/elite schools have part-time programs. So you can still gain pedigree through a PT program.

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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 10:16
I agree with the two posters above, and would highlight one other thing from your original post. You seem to be keen on leaving your industry and possibly your function for something new. I think this is where a FT MBA can come in especially useful. With the added resources of the Career Services department, additional on-campus recruitment and information options, and generally much closer connections to your classmates/future network, I think career switchers benefit much more from a full-time program. I myself am going from non-profit/consulting to entrepreneurship.

Regarding finances, you may also be surprised at exactly how much money is out there for those who are seeking it. If non-profit (or B-Corps, or social entrepreneurship) is something you might consider in the future, many schools have very generous loan-forgiveness packages. Likewise, if you are any form of URM, and with your (assumed very high) GMAT score and prestige education, you have a relatively good chance to receive aid in the form of scholarships from these top schools.

I think the most telling argument will be made when you visit a campus and get a feel for what the full-time program is like. It is a very different feel from a part-time program – more familial, more intensive, and a greater sense of purpose, even though distractions occur in similar quantities. Go on some visits, and then go with your gut.
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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 11:51
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So I was older than you when I matriculated, came from the financial services industry (buy side), was pretty sure I didn't want to go back. I don't know what it's like at a part time program, but if you go to a top full-time program pretty much every door is open to you. I'm heading to M/B/B consulting, and had the time of my life in the process. People quibble over loans and how much money it is to get the degree, but in the end you are going to make the money back many times over - look at the average salary statistics for graduates. I have had an amazing experience at Tuck, and the value I attained from the two years is worth much more to me than what I paid.

As for the have to work as a consultant to pay back the debt, I worked in tech strategy for my internship and the base salary for the offer was close to the consulting gig. You don't have to do banking or consulting to make good money.
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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 12 May 2012, 01:59
Hi man.

I tend to discount the value of MBA, the opportunities it gives and how many "doors are open to you." given the time and money you spent there, your current experience, your current job position and salary.
Regarding opening many doors: career switchers or guys (without previous experience in PE/HF/IB) who want to work in PE or hedge fund or IB , now in current economic environment dont think that so many doors are open to them. Doors may be open, but not those they want.

I know some guys aged 27-31 (I talk about applicants from Eastern Europe, not US) who experience career progression, stay away from business schools, since they dont want to stop in their career growth.
For them the question is "why I need to spent 2 years away from work I like a lot, get a $200k loan and after graduation receive the same of or even lower salary that I can earn now or in couple of years."

You must know your goals, predict your career growth with or without MBA.

By the way consider European 1 -year MBA programs such as IMD or INSEAD, or LBS (15 months).

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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 12 May 2012, 04:40
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I don't necessarily disagree with you - if you like/love your job, are on a clear and upward path, and can see good progression in the future it doesn't make much sense to drop off the track and get an MBA. I am not sure this is the situation for the original poster.

Maybe its different in Europe but here in the US your statement about not being able to go into banking without prior banking experience has not been the case in my experience. The top MBA programs are feeders into the bank associate programs and the majority of offers into banking (there were a lot) were people who had no banking experience, and a large amount with no previous finance experience at all. Those who did have previous experience in banking were trying to move into better companies, and they were definitely in the minority. As for PE/HF, it is definitely a harder path, but its hard in general to get into these industries. It depends on how bad you want it, how much you are willing to hustle, and how long you are willing to wait.

I think the 1 year euro programs are great, but if you want to career switch I think there are advantages to going to a two year program where you can 1) have an internship over the summer 2) have more time to figure out what you want to do.

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Hi man.

I tend to discount the value of MBA, the opportunities it gives and how many "doors are open to you." given the time and money you spent there, your current experience, your current job position and salary.
Regarding opening many doors: career switchers or guys (without previous experience in PE/HF/IB) who want to work in PE or hedge fund or IB , now in current economic environment dont think that so many doors are open to them. Doors may be open, but not those they want.

I know some guys aged 27-31 (I talk about applicants from Eastern Europe, not US) who experience career progression, stay away from business schools, since they dont want to stop in their career growth.
For them the question is "why I need to spent 2 years away from work I like a lot, get a $200k loan and after graduation receive the same of or even lower salary that I can earn now or in couple of years."

You must know your goals, predict your career growth with or without MBA.

By the way consider European 1 -year MBA programs such as IMD or INSEAD, or LBS (15 months).
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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 15 May 2012, 07:12
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A) Full-time program offers the collaboration and depth of networking that would be hard to emulate in a part-time program. Some full-time programs also offer better career exits, since school exclude part-timers from certain career related events. If you do decide to do part-time, go to a school that is inclusive of part-timers, and is close (so you can attend the events regularly).
B) This is not a problem. 29 is only slightly above the average age at b-school.
C) Debt can be repaid in time if you attend a top program. Plus, the salary isn't much lower in other industries, although the salary/bonus increase may not be as rapid as it is in banking.

Given your description, you seem to be someone who wants to pursue your own definition of “success.” I think you have to ask yourself what is your post-MBA goal. If you want to advance in consulting or banking, MBA is the right of passage. If you want to do something else, it may not be necessary to do full-time MBA. For example, some top leadership rotational programs also considers internal candidates. My boss during my summer internship had a part-time degree, and several of my future colleagues in an extremely competitive leadership development program attended MBA part-time. What do you want to do after your MBA?

Quote:
“I was told that I should go to the best graduate school that I could get in to.”

I don’t agree with this statement especially given what you have written. You need to pick the program that is right for you. Through my experience, I realized that as long as the companies/industries actively recruit for the role(s) you are looking for at the school, you are on good footing.
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Re: Name vs Money vs Age [#permalink] New post 23 May 2012, 15:46
I tend to agree with the above posters about the value of a FT MBA. But I think bschool is an immensely personal decision. Without more information about your current gig and future goals, we are really just articulating why FT bschool is right for us.

However, if I calculate a strict hard dollars only ROI, an MBA isn't a "good investment" for me personally.
But I judge the value of my education to include my personal development, professional development, network, friendships, break from consulting madness, future salary, time spent playing tripod hockey in NH, resume prestige-builder, and a whole host of other items that can't be so easily input into a spreadsheet.

Bottom line: there isn't a right answer, just a right answer for where you are and where you want to be.

PPS: at 29, I hardly think you've "aged out" of FT programs.

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Re: Name vs Money vs Age   [#permalink] 23 May 2012, 15:46
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