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When should I get an MBA? After I have had a full-time job or right after undergrad?

I am a rising junior in college and I am also wondering if I should take the GRE as opposed to the GMAT.

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Yael’s Answer

Hi Emily! I would highly recommend getting some real work experiecne right after undergrad and before you pursue your MBA, for several reasons:
- First of all, I think there's a big difference between a perception of what a profession or certain occupation is vs. how it looks like in reality. For this reason there's a huge value in exploring early on, right after undergrad the market for an area you're interested in to see if that is an area you really want to focus on - is this the right industry fo you? is this the right function? doe sit match your skills? This learning experience is SO IMPORTANT many times just for the reason of identifying what you DON'T WANT to do.
- When starting MBA program, recruiting for different jobs starting super early ( in most cases 1-2 months into the program). An MBA and an undergrad on their own cannot secure you any job. it's your expereince that is recognized in your CV, your skills and personality that will get your there (together with the MBA signaling to the market).

Take the time to fins your real passion. Pursuing an MBA is not the goal - it's something you can do during your journey in pursuing you career aspirations :)

Yael recommends the following next steps:

Talk to people about their experience finding jobs post MBA based on what they did right after undergrad - that will give you a better sense.
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Jerome’s Answer

I've been part of the workforce for two decades, and after eight years, I began pursuing my Master of Science degree. I've discovered that gaining work experience before furthering your education can be beneficial. This allows you to identify the most relevant topics to focus on, making it easier to apply your newfound knowledge to your daily tasks. However, I've also experienced the challenges of balancing a full-time job and a Master's program, especially if you have a partner, children, or other family obligations. To determine the best path for you, it's essential to assess your current situation and consider where you want to be in the future. I hope this advice is helpful.
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Gulshan’s Answer

From my own personal experience, I would recommend collecting a few years of work experience before taking the plunge into MBA. It will make understanding the concepts and applying them into practice much more easier and intuitive. That is not to say it is not possible to get value out of an MBA right after getting your undergrad degree.

I chose to go in for an MBA right after my undergrad, and in my class I had people who were coming in with years of work experience. I was able to see first-hand what a difference work experience made for those of my classmates who had any sort of work experience. There's no absolute threshold as to what's the minimum, but realistically speaking, give yourself at least two performance review cycles - to find out your aptitude in your workplace / industry, and to find out what you're good at. It can help you choose your major / minor areas of study in MBA.

Conversely, it was relatively difficult for people without any work experience to relate to at least some of the areas of study. At the very least, real-life examples were hard to come by, and when faced with case-studies that MBA coursework is famous for, having no work experience made it difficult to relate to and empathize with the characters, and therefore made it slightly more difficult to figure out what could or would or should work as a solution.

Any business enterprise is made up of dozens of different but related and inter-connected moving parts, and knowing how they connect and influence each other can make a big difference in how much value your MBA can get you. Of course, much of that is the whole intent of the course, but there's another big reason for considering an MBA later on in your career.

Some employers sponsor (whole or in part) or have a tie-up with Business Schools for an Executive MBA, or a dedicated class of similar specialization, etc. You could get a discounted education, or at the very least earn for some time while saving for your post-grad degree. Your individual financial situation and scholarship / grant / loan options may determine what you can commit to, and at what point in your life.

Good Luck.
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Patrick’s Answer

Hey Emily, would agree with all of Martha's comments. One thing I would add is that it should be dependent on what job or role you are . An MBA is a great asset, but if you are able to get the job you would like to without the extra year or two of school, then it is worth considering going straight into the workforce.

I, for example, wanted to go into consulting right out of college and it did not necessarily require me to have an MBA to pursue. After working for 4-5 years, I decided it was time to pivot career paths and used a full-time MBA as a good opportunity to do so. I personally found the MBA experience to be more rewarding when applying to work concepts I had experienced personally.
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Martha’s Answer

Hey, Emily - you've got two fantastic questions. Let me share my thoughts with you:

Deciding when to pursue an MBA relies on a few factors, like the amount of business experience you already possess. Perhaps you took a break during college to work, had a gap year, or completed valuable internships. You might be worried about returning to school after being employed or the rising costs of business school. If these concerns resonate with you, consider applying during your senior year of college. However, many business schools and potential employers prefer MBA candidates with work experience. I recommend researching the MBA programs you're interested in to see their specific requirements.

Usually, people take the GMAT for business school admission. But numerous schools, including Harvard, accept both GRE and GMAT scores. If you're considering a dual graduate program, like public health and business or law and business, you'll need the GRE for the non-business portion. If the GRE works for both, just take that one. Another aspect to think about is which test you prefer. You can find sample questions online to help you decide which test suits you best and will yield better scores. Don't forget to check percentiles, as they indicate how you performed compared to others.

Best of luck!

Martha recommends the following next steps:

Look at which MBA programs take the GMAT, GRE, both, or optional
For the MBA programs you are interested in, see whether they suggest working before applying
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Keith’s Answer

Sure, it varies from person to person. I, for instance, took a few years off after graduating from college before deciding to pursue my MBA. The fact that my employer covered the cost of my further education was a significant advantage. Generally, students find it more convenient to continue their studies immediately after completing a four-year degree, as they're still in the frame of mind for learning. The ideal timing for standardized tests, however, is largely dependent on the individual student's circumstances and readiness.
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Leslie’s Answer

Everyone is different, but I finished undergrad, got a full time job, and then a year after starting my full time job, I went back to get my MBA part time. I went to school at night, and my company that I was working for helped pay tuition for the MBA. If you have undergrad loans, it might be better to get a job first and your company probably has a program to help pay tuition - that way you will not have any more loans. It also looks good that you can balance working full time and going to school at night part time.
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Sachin’s Answer

Possessing an MBA can be incredibly beneficial. However, to truly value and utilize an MBA to its full potential, it's advantageous to have a few years of industry experience under your belt. I've observed individuals pursuing an MBA directly after completing their undergraduate studies. While this is certainly a viable path, I've found it tends to lean more towards the academic side rather than practical application. Ideally, I recommend aiming to complete your MBA before reaching a decade of work experience. By this stage, if you've chosen your career path wisely, you'll likely have amassed a wealth of business knowledge that could potentially surpass what an MBA offers.
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Julianna’s Answer

It's a smart move to work for a few years first to gain valuable experience and strengthen your resume before diving into your MBA. Holding down a job beforehand can also be a practical way to stash away money for tuition and living costs. The experience you acquire from working can open doors to networking opportunities and give you a taste of different fields you might want to explore during your MBA journey.
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