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“Should I get an MBA?”

28 Jul

The choice to pursue an MBA is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Earning your degree will require rigorous effort and could yield lifelong rewards.

An MBA program helps you build business leadership skills and a professional network. It can prepare you for an executive career in business, finance, marketing, data science and a range of other fields. Whether you choose a general MBA or one with a particular area of specialization, you’ll make a tremendous financial commitment and work extraordinarily hard to complete the degree.

The benefits often arise quickly, as many MBA students receive lucrative job offers upon graduation. You may ascend the corporate ladder more rapidly with your degree than without one. The internet is replete with articles that cite promotion into leadership and management positions, higher salaries and the opportunity to start one’s own business as advantages made possible by earning this accolade.

Students often follow, “Should I get an MBA?” with, “Is it worth it?” The answers are as varied as the people who ask, and the path to certainty lies in determining how well the advantages of MBA study and achievement align with an individual’s goals. To determine whether an MBA is the right choice for you, consider its costs and benefits, and then examine how well those assets fit with what you do—and don’t—hope to accomplish.

This post will explore a number of the strengths that MBA programs develop and some questions that can help you clarify your goals.

What can you gain from an MBA program?

It’s impossible to predict the future. The job market can change in a moment, salaries can vary, and the external rewards that might result from earning an MBA, while attainable, are beyond any one person’s control. The internal rewards, however, are much more personal, and more closely connected to your choice of program and the dedication you bring to it. In committing to an MBA program, you can expect to graduate with essential business knowledge and important new skills, including these:

Proficiency as a leader and a team player
Productive dialogue between colleagues involves finely tuned give-and-take. Through group work in your courses, you’ll learn to recognize and respond sensitively to the nuances that help ensure successful collaboration and effective leadership.

A detailed comprehension of business disciplines
From finance and marketing to statistics, technology, programming and beyond, a quality MBA program provides rigorous training in the many ‘languages’ of which business leaders need full command. You’ll acquire thorough knowledge of each and a holistic understanding of how individual disciplines affect and are affected by the others.

Greater aptitude for critical thinking
Maturity and professionalism require us to see the subtleties in any challenge. As you move past black-and-white choices into more complex situations, your ability to analyze and evaluate the finer points within them will determine your success in navigating them.

Strong ability in communication and persuasion
If everything you know is crystal-clear in your mind but comes out in a muddle when you express it, your knowledge, no matter how impressive, is rendered ineffective. Your career accomplishment will depend in large part on your ability to communicate specifically and accurately, and to provide compelling persuasion when necessary.

What careers fit with your passions and strengths?

Consider for a moment a student who has taken years of piano lessons. A dedicated student, she has practiced faithfully, become accomplished as a classical soloist and a jazz musician, studied music theory and shown creativity and promise in composing new works. Her teachers and mentors agree that she’s on the verge of an enviable future. She enjoys music ... but has always longed to become an architect.

The internal rewards of an MBA education can be valuable and enhance your life in any profession, just as an education in music can enrich an architect’s life and career. An MBA can open doors for you, but for that success to be meaningful, your heart has to be in the work. Before committing to an MBA program, ask yourself:

What do you enjoy?
Are you happier indoors or outdoors? With other people or alone? Would you rather work through the day or late into the night? If you could spend most of your professional life focused on a particular pursuit or medium—poetry, mathematics, dance, science, law, technology, animal care, anything else in the world—what would it be? Where would you most like to spend your time? What helps you to feel joyful, accomplished and fulfilled?

What are your best strengths?
In what ways are you most able to contribute to the world around you? Do you listen well, make people laugh, take calm and decisive action under duress? Are you at your best when acting spontaneously or thinking things through first? How are you with details? Would you rather teach or be taught? How do you respond when facing an important challenge?

What motivates you to take action?
Are you more energized about ensuring your own success or helping other people succeed? If you had more money than you need to be comfortable, what would you do with the extra? How do you want to make a difference in your world, and what would you do to accomplish that? What work is important enough to you that you’d do it without being paid?

What have the unique experiences in your life taught you?
Apart from money or material goods, what have you taken away from the important events in your life? Have your travels influenced your perspective, and if so, how? What have you learned from facing adversity? When you have been called upon to stretch your boundaries, to function outside of your comfort zone, how has that affected you? Have you handled it differently when it happened again?

The right answers to these questions are the most honest ones you can identify within yourself. They can help you recognize whether the career paths made most accessible by an MBA—its external rewards—fit with your goals, and whether the anticipated benefits make the investment worthwhile.

When you choose an MBA program, choose the best.

For a challenging and powerful business school experience that can truly transform your mindset and career, explore the Online MBA program from William & Mary. Study with our faculty of expert leaders and gain the skills to maximize your earnings potential in a variety of careers. Enhance your knowledge and earn the necessary credentials from the comfort of your home. Reach out today to learn more.