Why Should You Get an MBA?
There’s a vast difference between you knowing in your head why you should get an MBA and conveying those reasons on paper or in person. Even if the application doesn’t ask this question directly, you can bet you’ll cover it during your MBA interview. While everyone should prepare to communicate why they’re pursuing the degree, we’ve identified a few applicant types for whom it’s particularly critical to explain why they need an MBA.
Applicants who believe it’s the expected next step. These candidates work in consulting, investment banking, or private equity, and then they apply to business school because that’s what everyone who came before them at their companies did.
People who already have two or more degrees. They’ve already earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, or maybe even a Ph.D. These folks could come off as “degree collectors” to the admissions committee. They don’t know what they want to do and are signing up for yet another degree to help figure it out.
Applicants who are experience outliers. These people are either on the younger or older side of the applicant pool. Those with less than two years of experience need to consider why they don’t think gaining a little more career and life experience first will benefit them and their classmates. Those with more experience than the average candidate need to have a good reason for why it makes sense for them to pursue an MBA at this later stage.
Candidates who are already very successful. This could include entrepreneurs who have launched successful businesses and others whose career goals don’t seem to be something they need an MBA to achieve.
Curious about your chances of getting into a top b-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.
So, Why Should You Get an MBA?
One of the most common reasons to get an MBA is to help you learn about other functional areas and industries. If you’ve spent your whole career in marketing but have dreams of leading a company one day, you will need to understand financial statements and how companies run overall.
On the flip side, if you’ve only worked in banking or a particular sector in financial services, you might have yet to gain exposure to digital strategy, operations, or organizational behavior. Maybe you’re coming from the military or the nonprofit world or have had an untraditional career path. These applicants looking to pivot into the corporate sector may have yet to encounter almost any business functions.
In B-Schooled podcast episode #29, host Erika notes that there was a surgeon, a kindergarten teacher, a priest, a pop star, and many other interesting people with untraditional careers in her HBS MBA graduating class. “So, if you’re somebody who either wants to change industries or move up in your organization to lead a wider purview than just your current function,” she says, “You have a pretty easy case to make for why you need an MBA.”
You’ll gain functional knowledge at business school and meet classmates from your target industries. In the process, you’ll grow your network and learn from their expertise. Another reason it makes sense to pursue an MBA is to speed up your career progress. The degree can launch your career and help you leapfrog over peers to reach that next level faster.
Admissions committees want to feel like they’re giving spots to people whose career trajectory can be influenced and accelerated by an MBA.
You Want to Become a Leader
Many professionals plateau after being in the workforce for a while. You may find that you’re just not pushing yourself anymore, or your work is not pushing you. Your career progress could stall without an MBA to give you those next-level skills and experience to land a management-level position.
One of the main focus areas of any MBA program is leadership. All schools are going to cover case studies and have guest speakers. You’ll also do role-play exercises and have experiential learning opportunities to help you understand leadership’s different aspects and discover your leadership style.
You’ll also learn management tactics, business strategy, competitive strategy, organizational behavior, and many other things that are critical to know to manage others or an entire company successfully.
You’re Lacking Exposure to Diverse Viewpoints
The ability to have a global perspective and understand more diverse viewpoints is another solid reason to pursue an MBA that you could speak to in your materials. For those who have stayed in the same function or industry or have never had any international exposure, an MBA will provide you with a graduating class full of interesting people from all over the world.
As the Wharton School points out, “In addition to learning from professors, MBA students can expand their knowledge of other industries in the U.S. and abroad.” This network of individuals will enlighten you about how things work in their home countries and what different business cultures and customs are.
Very few organizations don’t need to think about things on a global scale these days or consider a global customer base. The business school experience will open your eyes and prepare you to help your future employers compete in the global business landscape.
You Have That Entrepreneurial Itch
Many applicants dream of launching their own businesses one day. If you fall into this category, no matter how successful you might have been in your career to date, the reality is that being an entrepreneur is a whole new ballgame. You’ll have a completely different set of worries and goals when trying to get a new idea, service, or product off the ground. You’ll need to convince others to fund your business and know how to operate within a budget. Plus, you’ll need to hire the right people. The list goes on.
Business school prepares you for the significant undertaking of launching a business. It can also introduce you to potential business partners and people who will believe in you enough to help back you financially or bring you customers, partners, vendors, or suppliers.
Read this profile of a former SBC client who accelerated her entrepreneurial plans by doing an MBA at Kellogg School of Management.
You Want to Invest in Yourself
Sometimes, candidates get so focused on the immediate short-term benefits of an MBA—that first job out of school, that initial pay bump—that they forget about all the benefits an MBA provides that last a lifetime. “Getting an MBA is an investment in yourself,” says SBC consultant/B-Schooled host Erika. “It gives you credibility with people you don’t know well or are new to working with you. And it’s something that nobody can ever take away.”
You’ll make bonds and friendships that will last forever. In addition, you’ll have the alum network to lean on and the school’s vast career resources. In short, you’ll be able to continue learning from the school long after you graduate.
By now, we’ve probably convinced you of the MBA degree’s numerous career and personal benefits. But more importantly, we hope we’ve convinced you that answering the question of why you should get an MBA remains top of mind throughout your MBA application process. If you don’t show the admissions committee why you need to go to business school, they might decide someone else will benefit more from their program.
The AdCom isn’t looking to put together a class of people who are already perfect and have nothing to learn from each other. So, don’t be afraid to point out your skill gaps and explain how an MBA can help you reach your most ambitious career goals.
Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to test prep to hourly help with targeted tasks. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.