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To Go to Business School or Not?

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To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 02:42
Hello All,
I’m trying to decide if I should pursue business school. This is my first post here and I’m looking for general advice.

You can skip to the questions below after only reading the cliff notes if you don't want to read a long post.

Cliff Notes:


Smart engineer that feels stuck in current industry and does not see a future career and will most likely not be happy with same engineering job for rest of life. Loves job, but doesn’t see future and wants to explore other possibilities. Thinks it is difficult to find as good of a job without more education. Exploring possibility of an MBA.

Some background:


I’m 27 and male with a Masters in aerospace/mechanical engineering from an Ivy League school. I graduated with the highest GPA in my undergrad and graduate majors. I have since started my own company, traveled the world, taught skiing, and now am an engineer for a 10,000 person company.

The company I co-founded was a success and fulfilling professionally, but I left since I personally did not enjoy where it was located…in the boonies of Iowa. Sorry to the Iowans out there, but I’m a NYC guy and I couldn’t handle everyone being married at 22 :)

After traveling and skiing I moved to Boulder, CO to join in on the entrepreneurship boom and join or start a start-up. In two weeks, I ended up joining a 10 person R&D office in my dream field. I'm saving the world and having fun doing it! It was an experimental office for a larger company and has since flourished but has turned from an exciting start-up feel to being more corporate. Through the job, I have also lived and worked many months in Europe. In my 3 years, I have been very successful in my company and have created a great network within my company.

That is where I am today. I feel that I am ready for the next step in my career.

Some general facts/observations:


1. I love my current job since it is fun, doing something amazing, pays great, and is in a great town (Boulder). I feel very constrained since I can not personally grow into new areas or learn much more from such a small office without moving where I live. I am also extremely comfortable and I am not being challenged anymore.
2. I feel trapped in my industry. I think it would be difficult to switch disciplines since I would not be able to get paid similarly in another field without experience.
3. I am secretly a bit lazy. I’m spoiled and don’t like working very hard since I put in a little bit of effort and get great results in school and work. Very difficult to work hard if everyone is thrilled with not much work. I need a low stress environment that is still mentally challenging yet not high-pressure.
4. I love learning. One of my biggest reasons to go to business school is just to learn! I read business books for fun.
5. I believe I can get accepted to any business school. I have the grades, varied work experience, international experience, led projects, recommendations, and got a 680 on a practice GMAT without studying (making that a 730 should be no problem with some effort).
6. I have only a few thoughts of how to use an MBA. I would like to get into innovation management or where business and engineering meet in a strategy group. I could also see me evaluating engineering start-ups as a venture capitalist.
7. I have saved enough to pay for the MBA and have some to spare.
8. One of my drivers is being paid well. I think I am currently well paid, however, I see a lot of others making much more and I think: “why can’t I do that too?”

OK, I have written a lot. I know that I write rather dry, however, I am quite charismatic in person…but I am still an engineer :) Thanks for listening to my brief life story. Now onto the questions!

Questions:


1. Should I forgo an excellent job for the unknown prospects of having an MBA and seeing where that takes me? (I have no real plan)
2. What is a typical career track for an engineer with an MBA that wants a creative and low stress work environment? Engineering strategy?
3. The old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. Are there high paying jobs that have fun low stress environments?
4. Are venture capital jobs evaluating engineering companies mentally challenging?
5. Is it crazy to get an MBA just to get an MBA because then I will be flexible to work for many industries for good pay?

I’m looking for your insights, links to interesting articles or similar posts, personal experience, advice, anything! Forums are truly amazing that you can quickly get great help for free from all over the world. Thanks a lot for your time in advance and trying to help me.

Last edited by Tailer426 on 23 Nov 2013, 06:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 03:04
Tailer426 wrote:
Hello All,
I’m trying to decide if I should pursue business school. This is my first post here and I’m looking for general advice.

You can skip to the questions below after only reading the cliff notes if you don't want to read a long post.

Cliff Notes:


Smart engineer that feels stuck in current industry and does not see a future career and will most likely not be happy with same engineering job for rest of life. Loves job, but doesn’t see future and wants to explore other possibilities. Thinks it is difficult to find as good of a job without more education. Exploring possibility of an MBA.

Some background:


I’m 27 and male with a Masters in aerospace/mechanical engineering from an Ivy League school. I graduated with the highest GPA in my undergrad and graduate majors. I have since started my own company, traveled the world, taught skiing, and now am an engineer for a 10,000 person company.

The company I co-founded was a success and fulfilling professionally, but I left since I personally did not enjoy where it was located…in the boonies of Iowa. Sorry to the Iowans out there, but I’m a NYC guy and I couldn’t handle everyone being married at 22 :)

After traveling and skiing I moved to Boulder, CO to join in on the entrepreneurship boom and join or start a start-up. In two weeks, I ended up joining a 10 person R&D office in my dream field: wind turbine aerodynamics. How cool are football stadium size windmills that each produce enough power for 10,000 people? Saving the world and having fun doing it! It was an experimental office for a larger company and has since flourished but has turned from an exciting start-up feel to being more corporate. Through the job, I have also lived and worked many months in Europe. In my 3 years, I have been very successful in my company and have created a great network within my company.

That is where I am today. I feel that I am ready for the next step in my career.

Some general facts/observations:


1. I love my current job since it is fun, doing something amazing, pays great, and is in a great town (Boulder). I feel very constrained since I can not personally grow into new areas or learn much more from such a small office without moving where I live. I am also extremely comfortable and I am not being challenged anymore.
2. I feel trapped in my industry. I think it would be difficult to switch disciplines since I would not be able to get paid similarly in another field without experience.
3. I am secretly a bit lazy. I’m spoiled and don’t like working very hard since I put in a little bit of effort and get great results in school and work. Very difficult to work hard if everyone is thrilled with not much work. I need a low stress environment that is still mentally challenging yet not high-pressure.
4. I love learning. One of my biggest reasons to go to business school is just to learn! I read business books for fun.
5. I believe I can get accepted to any business school. I have the grades, varied work experience, international experience, led projects, recommendations, and got a 680 on a practice GMAT without studying (making that a 730 should be no problem with some effort).
6. I have only a few thoughts of how to use an MBA. I would like to get into innovation management or where business and engineering meet in a strategy group. I could also see me evaluating engineering start-ups as a venture capitalist.
7. I have saved enough to pay for the MBA and have some to spare.
8. One of my drivers is being paid well. I think I am currently well paid, however, I see a lot of others making much more and I think: “why can’t I do that too?”

OK, I have written a lot. I know that I write rather dry, however, I am quite charismatic in person…but I am still an engineer :) Thanks for listening to my brief life story. Now onto the questions!

Questions:


1. Should I forgo an excellent job for the unknown prospects of having an MBA and seeing where that takes me? (I have no real plan)
2. What is a typical career track for an engineer with an MBA that wants a creative and low stress work environment? Engineering strategy?
3. The old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. Are there high paying jobs that have fun low stress environments?
4. Are venture capital jobs evaluating engineering companies mentally challenging?
5. Is it crazy to get an MBA just to get an MBA because then I will be flexible to work for many industries for good pay?

I’m looking for your insights, links to interesting articles or similar posts, personal experience, advice, anything! Forums are truly amazing that you can quickly get great help for free from all over the world. Thanks a lot for your time in advance and trying to help me.







Hi,

I think i am a little bit on the same boat as you and here is what i think you should do...
i think you should first decide which b-schools you want to enroll yourself into and what all courses these schools provide and what interest you the most? What value will these school add to your profile and where do you see yourself in future after completing the course. It all depends on what you want to achieve in future.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 03:14
Looking at the individual courses a school offers is good insight. That will better direct what my interests are in business school and how to apply them afterwards. Thanks for that idea.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 03:49
Coming from a tech background and applying for MBA programs this season, the one thing I expect from the MBA is being able to switch into a different field if I choose to. Not just right after graduation, but at any point of my life.

My 2 cents:
1. Should I forgo an excellent job for the unknown prospects of having an MBA and seeing where that takes me? (I have no real plan)
Just do it. That is how I handle it, well, even if I would be stuck in a similar job position afterwards, I would at least have had 2 great years. I just don't think about it too much.

2. What is a typical career track for an engineer with an MBA that wants a creative and low stress work environment? Engineering strategy?
Anything but consulting maybe? Because there you seem to be judged by the hours, not productivity ;)

3. The old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. Are there high paying jobs that have fun low stress environments?
I do not care that much about stress that has a real purpose, but I hate the stress that is made up. I am hopeful the latter can generally be avoided or ignored...

4. Are venture capital jobs evaluating engineering companies mentally challenging?
I cannot say anything about that.

5. Is it crazy to get an MBA just to get an MBA because then I will be flexible to work for many industries for good pay?
Is it the case? You seem to have an interest in the business field. With the MBA, you have a written proof of that, plus 2 years time focussing on that business interest. And engineer + business just has a high value to companies.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 03:55
Hi Tailer426

First of all great post. I know you said your writing is rather dry but I actually found it pretty interesting. So let's get down to the nitty gritty. My answers in red

Questions:


1. Should I forgo an excellent job for the unknown prospects of having an MBA and seeing where that takes me? (I have no real plan)

Unfortunately no one can answer that for you. If I had to guess the answer is probably. Because let's face it, if all fails after an MBA you can probably go back to your previous industry and get another excellent job. Having an MBA will only open more doors for you if you want to look into a career change or a shift in role in your industry. A lot of people go into business school with absolutely no idea what they want to do afterwards. The MBA can provide the opportunity to explore.

2. What is a typical career track for an engineer with an MBA that wants a creative and low stress work environment? Engineering strategy?

This I really don't know. Engineering applicants I have come across tend to want to leave that field and switch into other industries. As for low stress, I am not sure how many post MBA careers are low stress per se. One thing that you will have to think about if you do end up applying is "Why MBA?". You will need a plausible and well thought out career goal. No one will hold you to that if you are admitted but it needs to make sense.

3. The old adage goes, “you get what you pay for”. Are there high paying jobs that have fun low stress environments?

I am sure there are but I would not classify most post-MBA jobs as low stress. That might have more to do with the go-getting Type A personalities of the MBA grads rather than the jobs that are available though.

4. Are venture capital jobs evaluating engineering companies mentally challenging?

I'm sure it is if you find it interesting. VC jobs are very competitive. With your start-up experience, you might be able to make the switch with an MBA. I would caveat that by noting a lot of the PE/VC jobs post MBA go to guys who already worked in PE/VC or have investment banking experience. It is a notoriously difficult industry to break into.

5. Is it crazy to get an MBA just to get an MBA because then I will be flexible to work for many industries for good pay?

No, a lot of people get an MBA for the very fact that it opens doors to industries they would never dream of working in before the MBA. As for whether pay is a deciding factor for people, that's down to the individual.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 04:36
Thanks Domotron and GentleJack for the replies.

Reading my post over again, I guess it isn't that dry...thanks for the compliment. Damn you Mrs. Kaufman, my 8th grade English teacher, who told me I write like an engineer! :)

I think I should re-evaluate my meaning of low stress, which seems to be a recurring theme. I want a work environment that allows me to be creative and free. I believe that Domotron is absolutely correct that Type-A personalities probably don't have those same values and so most post-MBA jobs are not "low stress". I'm trying to find what areas I would most likely want to work in which require having business and engineering skills that meet this requirement. Ideas?

As for determining the VC environment, when I return from Europe I will join some local VC meetups and start networking to learn more.

I agree with GentleJack, this is exactly what I am going for:
Quote:
the one thing I expect from the MBA is being able to switch into a different field if I choose to. Not just right after graduation, but at any point of my life.

That idea is very appealing as I really like having a breadth of knowledge in many fields and I think an MBA will enable me to switch jobs easily. Do people that have MBA's find this to be true?

Don't worry Jack, I don't want to do consulting. You are either busy meeting tough deadlines or busy finding work...not a happy balanced life.

Also agree with GentleJack that stress which has a real purpose is completely fine. Although I must say that I can get obsessed with the details of work even if it has a real purpose. I think when I start dreaming at night about work, it has crossed the line!

Nice blog Domotron, will be sure to read!
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 26 Oct 2013, 07:05
Tailer426 wrote:
That idea is very appealing as I really like having a breadth of knowledge in many fields and I think an MBA will enable me to switch jobs easily. Do people that have MBA's find this to be true?

Of course I cannot tell if it is true (maybe someone else can help?). But at the moment I only hold a degree in Computer Science. Even if I would do a "Master of Information System Management" or similar, I would very likely still be seen as the tech guy. I could hardly move out of my field. The MBA, on the other hand, is a pure business degree. Together with my undergraduate, it makes two distinct qualifications. Even if I want to use only one of them, that should be possible (though I would not do that, as I still enjoy all the tech stuff ;)). To put it in numbers: doing a MIS, I see myself limited to positions that are 70% IT, 30% business. Maybe 50 / 50 after a while. With an MBA, I could do 50 / 50 or 20 / 80 right away. And even if I have a job that is 70 / 30 post-MBA, it should be not much of a big deal to shift that later on, as nobody would doubt my business skills.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 03 Nov 2013, 13:58
In terms of amount of work vs pay - government jobs? You can't beat that. ;)
Can't say it'll be "fun" and "challenging" though.

Most usually, if something's difficult then it's stressful. I think you're looking for a position that's right at the tipping point where "fun" challenges turn into stressful tasks. You'd also want something that the average Joe isn't capable of doing, otherwise the salary wouldn't match up. It's very hard for someone else to give you suggestions, as we don't actually know your skill level. Rather than just looking for a job "without stress", I think you should just figure out what industry interests you, and go for it - even stressful work becomes bearable if you find interest in what you do.

I don't think an MBA would give you that much of an advantage career-wise considering that your track record seems pretty impressive already - but what are you losing, other than the tuition (for which you can potentially get a scholarship) and a year or two of your time? You don't seem like someone who's purely into the money and/or in a financial strain. If you're in for the experience, I think going to a top tier MBA program would be interesting for you. You are sure to meet some interesting people, learn a new thing or two that you won't learn in books and have fun times on top of having an extra piece of paper with which to negotiate a future salary. Sometimes the journey matters more than the monetary results.

I'm actually in a similar situation - and I understand how disheartening it is when everyone around you is telling you how MBA grads are a dime a dozen and that it's not worth the money. Just stop talking to your fellow engineers and chat with an art student from time to time - they'll teach you a thing or two about knowledge and experience vs money ;) I think it's totally okay to say "I'm going for an MBA because it looks interesting and FUN", and forget about all those talks about stats and ROI.

(That being said... if you think about it, even if you "only" get a raise of 10k post-MBA, it'll pay off eventually. That, and you will potentially leverage useful connections and knowledge that will be hard to quantify in $.)
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 09 Nov 2013, 08:14
Good reply chyuki. Government jobs?!?! I forgot to mention another requirement: be surrounded by equally smart and driven people. Not saying that government workers aren’t smart or driven, but if the stereotypes are right, I probably won’t enjoy that job. I know you were kidding, but it did remind me of another need for my career.

I have actually reached out and talked with many different groups about this both inside and outside of my company. I get extremely varying opinion. Although, I must say, I haven’t talked with many from the arts. Very true that they are paying a lot of money for the experience!

I think that I have a decent plan going forward. I have expressed my desire to branch out at work and I have a few avenues that could possibly lead me to a very nice position. I also need to be more proactive at getting involved in the local business circles to see what other local opportunities are out there. I will decide in the spring whether to pursue BS when it comes time to start studying for the GMAT.

Also concerning money, from my quick calculations, it would be more like $20,000 extra post-tax dollars per year to pay back the loss of $280,000 post-tax ($140,000 for tuition/fees + $140,000 lost post-tax income) within 25 years assuming 5% interest rate. So, as a financially conscious person…this looks to be a break even proposition.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 13 Nov 2013, 06:13
I think you shouldn't go for it unless you decide that you absolutely need it. I would by no means call taking a new course a waste of time. Yet, you should look into your heart first to make sure you would be happy while taking that course and afterwards. As you have added this post, you probably hesitate if it's something worth doing. I wouldn't advice you to make important decisions while you have that much doubt. Good luck!
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 16 Nov 2013, 16:10
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understand if you're not willing to answer, but approximately what is your salary nowadays?

Unless you go to a top 3 school (which is possible in your case) and get some sick VC job, your starting salary will be around $100-120k, with a life time salary of $3-4 million. It seems like you are doing very well right now, so you don't want to get an MBA and end up with lower salary.
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 23 Nov 2013, 06:56
Concerning doubt in my decision: jamesshaffer is right, I won't make such a big choice without being sure of it. That is why I am reaching for thoughts.

Concerning current salary: I expect to reach 100k in 3 years. Financially, the MBA will most likely be a wash. I have accepted that it is not a great financial decision. I would really be going for the education, experience, and opportunities to enter new fields.

I think the MBA gives some financial stability though. If my current office or industry collapses, I think I would struggle to find an equally paid and fulfilling job. Having an MBA is a more transferable "skill" and allows more horizontal movement.

I always thought that knowing what I wanted post-MBA was not that important since I always succeed in any setting. I will most likely be very successful without an MBA too. I just need to ride the waves of life and everything will work out as it has my entire life.

A plan of having no plan is not that appealing. But that might be the best plan :)
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Re: To Go to Business School or Not? [#permalink] New post 24 Nov 2013, 10:19
If I lived in Boulder I would never want to leave.

Seriously though, it sounds like part of your desire for wanting an MBA is as a hedge for your career in the future. Its not necessarily a bad reason (its at least half of my reason for going), but you might not be giving yourself enough credit; that I don't know.

I don't think any amount of research is going to make it a slam dunk one way or another for you. The bigger question is are you willing to roll the dice with your current career and believe in your heart of hearts that you are resilient enough to respond to the possibility of your industry or job blowing up. Also, don't underestimate the time and emotional energy that go into the application process.

You sound like a cool dude, and I wish you the best.
Re: To Go to Business School or Not?   [#permalink] 24 Nov 2013, 10:19
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