Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts on getting an MBA

This article (old but still completely valid) by an insider provoked me to re-articulate, what I've advised many friends and family.

A disclaimer is warranted, upfront. Many of my friends and family, who have MBAs, are extremely talented and smart individuals. By strange coincidence, all of them were extremely talented and smart individuals, before they got their MBAs.

I've never really thought too highly of the content of most MBA programs. In my opinion, there are only a handful of good reasons to enroll in one. Like most opinions, this is probably worthless, but here you go anyway:

1. You want to change your career path. You're stuck, and don't like what you do. You seek growth, you seek something different! In short, you want to hit the reset button.
2. Networking. You go to a great school, which attracts smart people, you build a network. And the value of a good network is quite obvious, especially if you like climbing career ladders. A strong network is like an elevator. It can get you there faster.

Note that I am intentionally not putting "learning" as one of the reasons. In my opinion, you don't learn anything, that you can't read directly from books for 1/100th the cost.

When I took financial economics at Michigan, the instructor who also taught the same class to business students, often used to joke: "in the evening class, we stop here," before introducing something important and mathematical. And Michigan has a good B-school.

Sure you learn how to use useless buzz words (which the linked article describes) without understanding jack. Reminds me of Dilbert's "leveraging synergies across alternative technology platforms!", whatever that means!

I know people say case studies, group interaction etc. But c'mon those things are best picked up on the job. Basically, if you are smart enough, can read books without being threatened, cajoled, or bribed, make friends easily, are happy with your job, and can think independently an MBA is precisely what you don't need.

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