Around this time last year, after my waitlist denials, I was debating whether to reapply for MBA or seek other paths. Being a career switcher, complications involved in H1B visa and poor job market made it clear within weeks that there was no other way for me. But more importantly, I figured out that only MBA can help me acquiring the important business skills that I lacked in my purely tech background. The lack of those financial and operational skills might come back to haunt me one day and how am I supposed to talk to an investor about equity stakes when I don’t know the right terms. For this and many other reasons, I knew an MBA is more than a degree and job finding agent.
Specifically, as someone with entrepreneurial ambitions, I also considered ‘how does spending 150K in school instead of investing in your own idea’ makes sense? Vivek Wadhwa and Steve Blank have some supportive posts on the topic. And there’s Guy Kawasaki who has openly denounced the value of MBAs in startups. Although it is interesting to read these, I believe one should figure out what is ‘right’ for herself because there is simply no one-for-all formula. I can’t find the link but I identified most with this:
It depends. If you have already started on an idea and it is gaining traction, breaking off for an MBA does not seem wise. But if you are in a transition to launching your startup, then skills and resources provided in B School can help you execute your ideas more intelligently.
I agree because some people need the confidence, networking and understanding of basic business functions prior to jumping on the startup bandwagon.
Having the need for an MBA clearly reaffirmed in my head, I decided to reapply. I did the best I could to strengthen my application (luckily there was significant scope to do so). Specifically, I tried to gather some practical knowhow of my intended post MBA industry. I know it is hard to get first hand experience in a new industry but one can at least attend conferences, workshops and meet professionals. Here comes the importance of proactive networking. It may not help you put a bullet on your resume but will help you talk much more knowledgeably about your post MBA intentions.
Also, I can’t emphasize enough on the value of reassessments. My goals have changed decently over the course of my applications and I am glad I kept reflecting, exploring and taking feedbacks. Do a thorough research on job functions, industry opportunities and actual role responsibilities. Additionally, many people stumble upon doing MBA out of frustration in their current jobs. I think it is important for them to ensure that same frustration will not ensnare them in their new jobs after MBA. 2 years in school can go by very quickly before you have time to make a u-turn on your strategy and intentions. The best time to do it is while applying and certainly before school starts. So, if you are reapplying for MBA, it might be better to start from nearly scratch – I mean, rethink your goals, strategies instead of rehashing from previous year applications. Take this time to meet MBA graduates, students and industry professionals as well as non-MBA professionals. Find out what would be best for you after thorough introspection. The clearer you would be about your stance, easier it would be to convince the Adcom. And believe me, even if you can’t convince them for some unfortunate reason (since MBA applications consider factors that are beyond your control), you will be so more comfortable in knowing what you really want that it will be easier for you to find more opportunities.
Lastly, whatever be the outcome, nothing can stop you from achieving what you want. There’s a magical word for that – persistence.
Here is the post I wrote in between my app and reapp and I still stand by what it echoed: MBA is not the goal but a path.