4 Times Pursuing an MBA Makes Total Sense

reasons to get an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

For many people, business school is the ideal platform to continue their professional and personal development and achieve their career goals. Take a look at these common motivating factors to determine whether you, too, should head back to the classroom for an MBA.

1. You want to switch careers. By some estimates, at least two-thirds of MBA applicants look to business school as a surefire way to launch their career in a new direction.

One past client, Sheila, worked as a real estate attorney focused on commercial transactions when she decided that she found working with the financial details of transactions more interesting than the legal intricacies. She passed the first level of the Certified Financial Analyst exam and had a great deal of financial knowledge, but a very limited understanding of other areas of business management.

Sheila had come to a point in her career where she knew what she wanted to work on for the rest of her professional life. Though the CFA program is a tremendous resource, she had enough experience to know that she needed to develop the skills best provided by earning an MBA. Going to business school became the next logical step toward her objective of working in real estate banking at a Wall Street firm.

2. Your target company demands it. If your sights are set on working for companies such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., McKinsey & Co. or Boston Consulting Group, know that having the MBA credential is typically an unspoken requirement. These top banking and consulting firms mandate MBA degrees for upper management positions.

While they hire employees with bachelor’s degrees for entry-level positions, the understanding is that associates will work for a few years and then head to business school to earn the degree that will open doors to senior management and partner positions.

Even if smaller firms don’t require the MBA outright, employees find they advance up the ladder much faster with the graduate management degree.

3. You hit a ceiling. When Constance first came to us, she had already spent six years working in consulting and banking, but in her current role her contributions were narrowly focused on one piece of the client’s puzzle. To broaden her role and shift to strategic consulting for financial institutions, Constance needed an MBA.

She knew her experience with strategy and working for banks would enable her to participate in the classroom, but MBA courses in financial accounting, financial engineering and risk management would expand her knowledge and give her the full toolkit for landing a position as an associate at a top-tier consulting firm in the U.S. or Europe.

Constance’s long-term goal involved eventually taking a partner role at a smaller, niche consulting firm. Business school was a crucial next step for transition.

4. You need new skills. Our former client Peter’s undergraduate degree was in art history from a small liberal arts college. While most of his classmates had pursued Ph.Ds for a career in academia, he had always wanted to find a way to combine his creative interests within a team-based environment.

Peter began his career in an entry-level position at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the arts education group. Within a few years he was on a strong trajectory within MoMA, but Peter really wanted to focus on entrepreneurial activity within the arts world. He decided he needed an MBA to gain the hard financial and management skills required to meet that goal.

As you can see, every individual’s needs and motivations are different. When you map out your medium- and long-term professional goals, think about what gaps you have and whether an MBA could be that transformational experience that changes your career trajectory forever.

Image credit: Flickr user Stefan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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