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What do you all think about getting work experience before an MBA? Is it necessary?

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Jennifer’s Answer

I think it is valuable to have work experience first before getting an MBA. It will strengthen your application for school as well as improving your ability to perform once you take classes. Having real world experience should also give you a better understanding of the type of business you would like to work for and what area of work you prefer which will in turn influence the classes you select. What's more, if you work while pursuing your MBA, the organization that you work for may offer some sort of tuition reimbursement program which could assist you in paying for your degree.

Thank you Jennifer! I appreciate it Natalia G.

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Karl B.’s Answer

It is extremely valuable to have work and real life experiences prior to entering an MBA curriculum. I felt that the way the curriculum was taught was topic based and your interactions and responses, along with the readings will help shape your thoughts and opinions on the area. You will add value to your education as well as to those around you. During my courses, I interacted with leaders in a number of industries (including the US military) and that was extremely valuable. That said, it is not a deal breaker if you haven’t worked in your industry prior to starting. You can reach deep within and find experiences in a number of things you might have been involved in such as; world travel, cultural interactions, small business startups that you or your family were involved in, etc).

Thank you Karl! I appreciate your different take on my question. Natalia G.

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James’s Answer

MBA is always great to have. It gives you a leg up on those without that degree. Work experience is also very important and sometimes a requirement when applying for some positions for a company. It goes down to preference and where you are in your life. In my experience if you take a break from school especially during or after college a lot of people do not end up going back after the long break from school. I would see what opportunities you currently have for work. Remember most large companies pay partially for their employees to go back to school for MBA's. So you would be saving money on tuition. I would work and get the experience and go to school part time for your MBA while your new company pays for a percentage of your tuition.

Thank you James! I appreciate your feedback. Natalia G.

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Miguel’s Answer

People generally recommend that you get work experience before an MBA for a few reasons... 1) MBAs can be very expensive, you kinda need a plan for how to pay back the debt. 2) Very good MBA programs actually require you to have professional experience to be considered.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you enroll in a full time MBA program, and then try and find a full time job, all the potential employers may only be hiring experienced professionals.

Personally, I’ve seen people get MBAs for a bunch of reasons. There’s so many school options that you can always find one that fits your schedule and budget. But I think that before you spend $20,000 or $120,000 on one, you should have an idea of what you want to do professionally. Will your undergrad help you get into the field you want?

Miguel recommends the following next steps:

Look up employment stats of MBA students from good universities
Look full time vs part time career opportunities
Look up tuition fees for MBA programs
Look up common career paths for MBA students
Find out if you need an MBA for the career you want to pursue (talk to people in the field?)

Thank you Miguel! I appreciate the steps you outlined for me. I will look into them. Natalia G.

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Victor’s Answer

While work experience is not necessary it's important for you from a few perspectives.
1. What are you trying to achieve having MBA. Is it for career advancement. Having some work experience would help you to choose MBA major - strategic management, finance, accounting, etc. It can have a big effect on your career.
2. Also, work experience and MBA can position you well for advancement in your field but not necessarily in the company where you currently work. Essentially, it can open up for you some options especially, if you graduate from reputable MBA school.
3. In addition, MBA is good long term investment in yourself even outside of career advancement. It can provide better job security as well.

Thank you for your expertise Victor. I appreciate it! Natalia G.

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Frank’s Answer

While some experience is nice to have before pursuing a MBA degree, it may depend more on your current situation. When I graduated with my undergraduate degree, there weren't many job offers waiting on me. I decided to go straight into graduate school and get my MBA. One benefit was that I was able to go full-time and complete it quickly instead of trying to take it around a full-time job over several years. Another benefit was that I received a better job offer and quicker first promotion with the MBA. Either way, I think a MBA is worth pursuing.

Thank you, Frank, for your unique perspective. Your path is not a common one, but I like hearing about your success! Natalia G.

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Scott’s Answer

Well, I have a different opinion than most it appears. I believe you should knock it out right away for a few reasons. At the end of the day, you just want to get it. I can tell you, the longer you wait the more difficult it gets. Life factors (marriage,kids etc.), working a full-time job then needing to attend or complete classes after hours is not an easy situation. Another reason, if you earn it before you start your career, you have a leg up on your colleagues. The education you obtain will be of great value early in your career and provide you a foundation of knowledge most others will not have. Also, most companies in my experience, will pay you a higher starting salary. Finally, while others are completing their MBA, use your free time to take classes or seminars specific to your industry or, speak with HR about volunteer opportunities. It will make you feel better about yourself and help others and also most employers look favorably on those who contribute to those in need. Good luck out there!

Thank you Scott! I appreciate your advice and your perspective about this topic. Natalia G.

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John’s Answer

Natalia if you are contemplating whether or not you will be a suitable candidate for this program, then you should ask yourself the following questions: Are you the type of person who can easily handle a leadership position? Do you feel comfortable with taking on a lot of responsibility? Do you like being in charge of a team? If the answers are yes – then you are good to go! An MBA (Master of Business Administration) can be a very beneficial qualification to take as it enhances both skills and knowledge in the finance sector. If you wish to attend a business school to study a Master in Business Administration, you may at first be put off with how demanding and expensive this program is, not to mention its high entry requirements. However, there are many good reasons for which it is worth studying for an MBA.

An MBA education gives you new skills and knowledge to enhance your current career. After working in the office for two or three years, and gaining adequate experience, you will realise that you were in fact stuck in a comfort zone. By doing your Master of Business Administration course, you will soon be forced out of your comfort zone and learn how to deal with the latest issues. This program will give you the opportunity to constantly challenge and push yourself in order to continuously improve. Problem-solving is one of the most important attributes that you will learn through this program. You will get a better overview of the business world and a deeper understanding of the changes that occur in the business environment.

Students who are currently studying an MBA program will have greater business networking opportunities. Many universities allow you to get to know or interact with professionals that have on-field experience. Furthermore, if you are doing an MBA on a part-time basis within your company, you will be able to potentially meet with other employers through internships. By getting access to a wider business network, you will surely be able to expand your current career and have better chances of landing your dream job.

Doing an MBA degree not only gives the graduate better career opportunities , but higher salaries also go hand in hand with this program. Due to the graduate’s qualification, his or her chances of finding a top level management job are much higher. If you want to further your career in business management, an MBA would definitely increase your chances of achieving this. If you would like to pursue a professional Master of Business Administration in a specific concentration, you may actually be required to have real-world experience.

Finally entering the real world can still be beneficial even if you are planning on attending a program with no professional experience admissions requirement. In fact, some experts say that it is best for undergrads to immerse themselves in the field of study at a professional level before they apply to a graduate school because of the personal and the financial benefits in doing so. Some look at this break as a breather and others look at it as an opportunity get a competitive edge to apply to a highly sought after program. Having just 1 to 3 years of experience will certainly help and could also lead to paid-for tuition from your employer’s tuition reimbursement program. You may also find that you do not enjoy working in the field, and can then decide to pursue a different graduate degree. Even thought you may still be completing your Bachelor’s degree program, it is still important to think about your plans for graduate school. You should consider the steps that you will take after graduation well in advance so that you have plenty of time to prep your application for your advanced degree. Once you know the requirements for graduate school admissions, you can then decide if getting work experience is a must or a choice.

Hope this was Helpful Natalia

Thank you John! Your in-depth answer to my question really helps me understand the MBA thought process a lot better. I appreciate it. Natalia G.

Your Welcome Natalia. Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. John Frick

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David’s Answer

Get experience first and then come back for an MBA later. I work side by side with others with an MBA that has done little to boost their career but has only boosted their debt. Education always has some value, just make sure that it will translate into giving you value when you graduate.

Thank you David! I appreciate your feedback. Natalia G.

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Andrea’s Answer

As much as an MBA is really helpful in advancing/boosting career options, it is also very important to figure out what exactly you want to specialize in. This being said, getting work experience before getting an MBA will definitely help you understand the bigger picture, and give a sense of direction for your career. Working before setting your MBA in stone, helps to know if you want to be in the same line that you are currently working in, or if you want to branch out and explore other options. Choosing an MBA specialization after you've worked for sometime makes it easier since you will know what you want to progress/master in, career-wise. So, while it is not absolutely necessary to have work experience before getting your MBA, it will certainly make choosing a suitable career path that much easier.

Thank you Andrea! I appreciate your introspective advice about my question. Natalia G.

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Ashley’s Answer

I agree with the advice many have given - work experience is important before pursuing an MBA, in most fields. My experience is in business and accounting, and one of the more important components of that career is real-world experience and application. In fact, the main purpose for an MBA, other than expanding your skills, is the network you develop through your cohort. And a cohort is sometimes only as good as the experience that group has, which is why a lot of MBA programs require some level of experience to apply. I think it's important to work through challenges and problem-solving through work experience and then take an MBA to help further develop your career and skill set.

Thank you Ashley! I appreciate the insight about adding value to a group. As someone who does not have much management experience, I see the benefit of getting some to augment my skills and value in the graduate school setting. Natalia G.

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Ramona’s Answer

Great question, Natalia! At the time of completing my Bachelor's degree, I was faced with the same question. I really enjoyed my undergraduate studies but was not sure I learned enough to start off as a specialist in any particular area. Knowing that, my family encouraged me to continue my studies via an MBA, and use that opportunity to specialize. During my MBA studies, I was fortunate to have other students that were very experienced in business as well as others that were coming out of undergrad studies just like me. This diversity in experience, lead to very meaningful discussions and learnings for me. Although this approach worked for me, I know many others where they needed a break from school/learning in a classroom and went to work for a few years before returning to their studies. You can be successful in both approaches. Good luck in your decision.

Thank you, Ramona, for highlighting the merits of both sides of the topic. I appreciate your insight and your story. Natalia G.

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Shwetha’s Answer

I agree with what everyone is suggesting. Professional experiences (which come with real-life experiences) help in shaping the direction you are choosing when deciding the focus areas for your MBA program. Since MBA programs are generally more expensive, you would want to make informed choices and your experience will come in handy.

Thank you Shwetha! I appreciate your thoughts. Natalia G.

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Veronica’s Answer

I agree with the other responders that real-world career experience is helpful prior to earning an MBA. I had several years between completing my undergraduate degree and starting my master's degree. During that time, I worked in two completely different roles and industries. When we discussed various concepts in class, I would sometimes have prior first-hand experience with a topic, which gave me a perspective I would not have had had I leapt straight into a graduate program after university. Also, my program was designed especially for working professionals, so I appreciated the opportunity to learn from their experiences and insights, and partner with them on class projects.

As a bonus, working for a few years before getting my master's degree helped me save up money to help pay for school, so that certainly helped me avoid taking out more loans!

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Mark Eagle’s Answer

Everyone person's situation is different. Here are some things to thing about.
#1. Enjoy life. Find a vocation, not just a career or a 'job' that you love.
#2 This is hard to do at any age. Very hard for most when you are 20 years old.
#3 An MBA is over hyped. If you can get into a top 10 school, (Harvard, Stanford), and afford it, that is worth doing. It will give you contacts, a great first job, and a high paying job.
#4 Determine where you want to live. Certain regions of the country have schools that you can get an MBA at night or inexpensively. I don't recommend getting an MBA just for to get the letters after your name.
#5 Keep in mind the following:
a. If you get you MBA immediately, you will still be young enough to enjoy the college experience and the fun that goes along with it
b. If you get your MBA later, it will be mostly work.
c. Remember #1 is to enjoy life in whatever you do.
#6 Getting job experience is great to job first. It will focus you, for what you like and don't like. However, keep in mind, that sometimes life gets in the way. A commute, a family, and long business hours could prevent you from going back to school. Stopping work to go back to school is hard as you stop your income stream and have a tuition bill.
#7 If your company offers a leadership program with an MBA or willing to pay for school , take advantage of it.
#8. Except for a few niche industries like wall-street or top companies like McKinsey, the salary boost isn't always much.
#9 MBAs are valued differently regionally, so do you home work.
#10 If you find a vocation you love, an MBA doesn't mean a lot.
#11 Get an MBA for the right reasons
If when you graduate the job market isn't good, that may be a good time.
However, an offensive strategy for a vocation is always the best.
#12 An MBA doesn't define who you are. It is a degree. There are economic
time cycles when this is important. Now you can go to a boot camp and earn more at something you love.
#13. Again, take the time to find what you love to do. If you don't know, don't spend the time and money to get an MBA. You may be better off teaching skiing at a ski resort or doing the Peace Core to get clarify. You won't have these opportunities as you get a family.

Mark Eagle recommends the following next steps:

Take some time to reasearch this. Read What Color is my Parashoot or other career identification books.
Determine where you want to live
It may be a cliche, but determine your 5 year goal
Examine you bank account and research scholarship opportunies
Find an employer that would pay for it

Thank you, Mark, for a very informative answer! I appreciate your comprehensive thought process as I navigate graduation and post-graduate opportunities. Natalia G.

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Carly’s Answer

For many an MBA may be important for them to reach their long-term career goals. I have found in my experience that those individuals who obtained their MBA right out of college regretted doing it first. They found that maybe what they got their MBA in was not really where they ultimately wanted to go in their career. Additionally, there are benefits to waiting on your MBA even if its only by a few years. Job experience can go a long way in making the coursework you undertake easier to accomplish. It can also provide you invaluable work experience you can reference in your work that you may not have previously had. Additionally, for some, they have the option of their employer helping to pay for their education which is an opportunity missed if you attend prior to getting a job. Finally, the MBA you choose to pursue may be more relevant to the career field you ultimately want to go into. Most people start their career in one field but sometimes find their passion lies somewhere else. Giving yourself some time to gain work experience prior to going after an MBA will provide you better insight on where you want to go and what you want to do.

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Hassan’s Answer

I do think it is valuable to have work experience before getting a Masters degree since you will bring real world knowledge to your classes.

Take a look at the schools you're interested in to see if they ask for work experience. It may be a requirement or at least increase your chances to get accepted.

Also do an ROI analysis to determine if it makes sense to get an MBA and if so how. This will depend heavily on your career choice since some jobs and employers will value the degree more than others. Will the employer help with tuition and time off? This would likely give you the highest ROI but require tons of work. Taking off two years and spending $100K at a Top 20 school may turn out to give you the lowest ROI.

Thank you, Hassan, for this analytical approach to my question. I appreciate your insight. Natalia G.

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Esmerina’s Answer

Hi Natalie!

Such a great question! I also was faced with a similar question once I finished my undergrad. I really loved school so I wanted to continue my education further. At the same time, going into the real world also seemed a little scary. So here is what I would advise.
An MBA can be very expensive, but it will also provide you with a great set of skillsets that will set you apart from other candidates. Many organizations offer tuition reimbursement if you choose to pursue your MBA. My recommendation would be to first gain a few years of work experience, and also see if the organization you work can provide financial support through the means of tuition reimbursement. I also don't think that there is a wrong choice here. You can choose to immediately pursue your MBA, you will continue to strengthen your skills overall, but also gain a strong network of colleagues/friends.
On the other hand, with a few years of real work experience, I think you can also contribute to the program just as much as you reap benefits. Best of luck to you in your decision!

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Adria’s Answer

Getting work experience is extremely important before getting an MBA. As someone who recently got an MBA, and only got one with ~5 years post undergrad experience, I wish I had had more management experience before going into it. A lot of what you learn in a good MBA program is all about how to take what you learnt and apply it to your work and management, as well as taking your past experiences in management and business and applying your learning.

If you are aiming to get higher education to get you into a field, a masters degree in other areas like communications, accounting, or another focus area will be more valuable. An MBA without relevant work experience will not get you much further than not having one at all. In addition to this, most MBA programs require a number of years of work experience as an applicant requirement.

Thank you Adria! I appreciate your insight and graduate school story. Natalia G.

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Herman’s Answer

Great question! Most MBA schools do recommend some work experience because it gives you more opportunity and knowledge going into the program to figure out what you want to do with your career. For example, personally I worked in Finance after graduating from college but after working a few years, I realized this is not the career path I want to continue pursuing. Without that initial experience, I don't think I would've gone into business school with a better idea of what I wanted to do. However, now that I've just graduated from business school, I went into the program with more clear idea of what I want to do and that influenced how I recruited in school, the electives I chose to take, etc.