My Decision to Get an MBA
Determining whether or not to pursue an MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a big deal, and I wrestled with it for a while before making my decision. The program is not cheap, after all. Some businesses reimburse employees partially or in full, but not all businesses do. And even if a business will reimburse your funds, you still have to invest a great deal of time.
Is it worth it?
I've found what I'm learning so far to be worth it, but I'm not recommending everyone to enroll. Mind you, I am not taking these courses in order to earn a promotion. I'm not doing this to be able to jump to another company. I'm taking courses because I felt like I needed the knowledge, not the degree.
My undergrad studies were in Mass Communication, and my career over the past several years focused on search engine optimization, a subset of online marketing. My role has shifted since then, and I am doing much more business planning, as well as marketing consultation, planning, and implementation for a variety of companies. I began to feel that my background was not enough to equip me for my current challenges.
Now, when I study, I'm able to start applying what I learn right away. I don't have to try and keep the knowledge fresh for years after I've completed a paper. I start using it and evaluating how it helps our company.
Getting Professional Experience Before Starting the MBA Program
When I finished my bachelor's degree, I had no desire to get a master's. I wanted to get my career started, and I'm glad I did. If I had gone into a master's program at the time, it would not have been in business. It would have likely been in communications. I'm sure a masters in communications is helpful for some, but I could not see the purpose of it -- especially because I was already married and needed to start earning a living. (Yes, we married young.)
Only recently did I actually feel the need to move beyond the books I was reading and into a structured form of study.
My advice to anyone currently in a career and considering getting an MBA: start reading every business book you can. See if it is enough to satisfy what you want to know. Try out Josh Kaufman's book: The Personal MBA. Though the purpose of the book is to give you everything you need to know to avoid further schooling, it helped inform me that I was motivated enough to go and put in the time and resources.
If you are an undergraduate and are considering a graduate degree, I would say that it is certainly worth your while if you really want it. If you're not really sure or aren't really that into the idea of more time in class, then go ahead and get started in your career. There are plenty of people with massive student loan payments who may or may not have needed that extra degree. You can always go back. You'll be busy, but you can do it.
A Remote Program Was the Only Viable Option for Me
With a full-time job and a family, enrolling in a nearby school for classes during the day was impossible. While a weekend program or evening classes could have worked, I did not find the schools nearby to offer a program that focused enough on marketing to justify the expense and time. So, I went with an online program, and I've been happy with the results so far.
I have been getting plenty of interaction with other students and with my instructors. It's not just a matter of reading a book and hoping for the best. I'm getting real feedback that helps me grow.
Keep Growing by Using the Tools that Help You Most
I've written about the need to self-educate through continued reading before, and I find my time in school to be an extension of the same concept: growth is necessary. You cannot ride on what you currently know to guide you through the rest of your career, and I don't just say that from a matter of achieving job security. New information can spark new ideas in your daily work and can launch you to a new level of interest in what you are doing.
Fuel your ideas with books or podcasts or classes or whatever it takes. Just keep growing!