6 answers

is it better to work before going to obtain an MBA?

Asked Fremont, California

If so, what sort of jobs would help me get into a good graduate business school? #college #business #economics #professors #mba

6 answers

Paige’s Answer

Updated Austin, Texas

Hi Zarah! Great question. I went to graduate school for my MBA directly after undergrad. I was working at the time of earning my MBA (attending night school), but do wish I would have taken a break between undergrad and graduate classes. Although I was working, it did not give me the time to focus on work first and gain that experience. Personally, I feel like I would have been able to apply my work experience into the MBA program if I had waited a few years. I did still have a wonderful experience and am on a great path now, but if I had to do over again I would have waited before going to grad school. Depending on what field you are in or what your end goal is, that is where you should focus on looking for jobs. I do not believe one employer over another would be as beneficial as the experience itself, and having learned what you can apply to your expertise in the future. Hope this helps!

Adam’s Answer

Updated Washington

Hi, Zarah! That's a great question. I received my MBA ten years ago after having been in the workforce for about ten years, a time whicn included earning another master's degree. I think that the fact that I already had a good amount of experience in the business world helped me with my MBA, in three ways:

  1. I already had experience and knew what I wanted from the degree, which helped me in my applications and interviews.
  2. I was able to apply what I had learned in my working life.
  3. I was able to go right back to my job and apply lessons from my MBA, and was able to market myself better for future jobs. Also, while I changed jobs while I was still completing the degree, I was able to get some funding from my company towards my educational expenses. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement or other programs to help pay for some,or all, of your educational expenses towards an MBA.

In terms of what jobs would be helpful, I wouldn't think so much about the kind of job as much as the kind of skills that an MBA program would look for, and the kinds of skills you will develop in an MBA program. To get into a program, you need to be comfortable working with numbers (not necessarily a statistical genius, but you need to be comfortable reading a financial statement and understanding what it means). You also need to show that you know how to manage people and processes towards a goal. So, if you can look for jobs that will give you experience managing budgets, people, and processes, that will be good preparation.

Then, you need to think about what you will do with an MBA? Do you want to run your own business? There are MBA programs that focus on entrepreneurship. Do you want to be a financial analyst? Some programs focus on that area. Other programs emphasize management.

This isn't to say that you can't go straight from undergraduate school to an MBA, but in my experience you get more out of an MBA program with previous work experience, which will help you answer all of these questions.

Thanks and Good Luck!

Maria del Pilar’s Answer

Updated Austin, Texas

Hi Zarah, this depends on the business school you are applying to. There are several business schools that don't require having work experience, but others are very specific on asking for at least 3 or more years of experience. Honestly I believe this totally depends on you and what you want to achieve from the MBA. I think your first goal should be to really assess why you want to enroll in business school and then decide if you should work before or not. Usually people that are pursuing an MBA do it because they want to advance in their careers, switch job roles, or switch industries, so as you can tell, these are people that have been in the workforce for a while. If your goal to attend business school is learn about business, network, etc. then you may not need previous work experience. good luck!

Horatiu G.’s Answer

Updated Los Angeles, California

YESSSSSSSSS! Adam and Paige both make great points. I worked for 4 years before pursuing my MBA. My advice to you is to work for a minimum of 4 years, ideally in two different roles ... working at two different companies also has value but is not necessary. You want to go into the program with business experience and a general direction for where you want to take your career. This will allow you to maximize the benefit from your degree ... which you are paying dearly for!

Chad’s Answer


Hi Zarah!! I actually starting working for a corporation before I obtain my MBA. I do not think it’s better; however, I feel I was able to grasp my lessons easier because I was experiencing at work what I was being taught in class. This is challenging at times but I love being able to apply principles in real time!

Brian’s Answer

Updated Atlanta, Georgia

I would suggest getting your bachelors first and then getting some experience in your line of work. Sometimes employers will pay for you to go back to school as well. So you could get the best of both worlds in that your employer could pay for it and you will get MBA.

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