Preparing: Is an MBA right for you?
Common motivations for obtaining an MBA
- Brand: The MBA degree provides a strong signal to future employers of your intelligence, ability, and business acumen.
- Salary: A Financial Times report found that MBA alumni who were 24 or under when they started their degree reported that their salary increased by nearly $69,000, up 145% over their pre-MBA pay. Alums who started MBA programs when they were 27 and 28 reported salary increases of $67,000, roughly doubling their pre-MBA pay. Older students who enrolled at the age of 31 or above had a pay increase of $56,000, or a 70% rise over pre-degree salary.
- Industry or Functional Skill Pivot: Data from Transparent MBA, an MBA career platform, found that 87% of MBAs switch either functions or industries in their jobs directly before and after B-school. Some 69% switch both functions and industries. Individuals using a full-time MBA from an elite business school to accelerate their current career paths are in the significant minority.
- Network: An MBA expands, enriches, and deepens your global network. According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success. In fact, one study shows that half of the predicted difference in career success (i.e., promotion, compensation, industry recognition) is due to this one variable.
- Learn: Not to be forgotten, an MBA allows students an opportunity to learn hard quantitative skills and subjects, to practice managing and leading diverse, multicultural teams, to open their minds to new ideas, business models, and leadership styles, and, perhaps most importantly, to step back from the daily grind and think big about themselves, their careers, and their purpose.
Your career goals and purpose
Across every MBA application there is a variation on the question, “What are your career goals?” According to MBA Prep School, when schools ask “What are your career goals?” they are really trying to learn much more – they are asking:
- Is this applicant passionately interested in the field he or she plans to work in?
- Do the applicant’s career goals address a significant problem?
- Is solving this problem personally meaningful to the applicant?
- Will solving this problem benefit others in a meaningful way?
- Does the applicant have the leadership capabilities needed to help solve this problem?
- Is the applicant’s career action plan sound?
- Does the applicant present evidence that he or she understands his or her future industry?
- Is the applicant connecting the dots between prior skills/experiences and post-MBA career goals?
How to identify your career goals and purpose
Most importantly, your career goals and purpose are deeply tied to your motivations for pursuing an MBA. How do you identify your career goals and purpose? Start by answering these four questions:
- What industry/field are you passionate about working in?
- If you were a leader in that field, what is a significant problem that you would want to tackle?
- What motivates you? Why does this problem matter to you personally?
- What leadership role can you play given your unique set of capabilities, skills, and knowledge?
Once you answer those four questions, your objective is to:
- Identify your ‘dream’ role (not the role you want (or are qualified for) now but the role you want to hold to solve the significant problem you identified);
- Inventory the capabilities, skills, and knowledge you’ll need to acquire or strengthen in order to secure that role;
- Develop your career action plan to secure that role!