by Daryl Capuano

business-schoolIn the tight job market that is new reality of the work world, every advantage is necessary to navigate the business world.

Some jobs require MBAs.  Climbing the career ladder often demands an advanced degree.  Getting an MBA can provide many contacts that will serve useful throughout your business career.

On the other hand, much like every other graduate degree, two years of your life and a lot of money should make you weigh this decision carefully.

Given our career counseling team which comprises top executives in fields in most every business area, we have a deep sense of whether an MBA will make sense for clients who need career counseling regarding the decision of whether or not to go for an MBA.

Here are two different case studies that illustrate why advice on whether to apply to business school should be custom-tailored:

Client 1 graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, CT.  He worked for two years in a New Haven, CT bank.  He really wanted to move to New York and he really wanted to make a lot of money. Other than friends who worked in New York city, he simply did not have the connections or the credentials to make big moves. He came to us glumly as he was sensing that at 24 his future was narrowing.  He also had the mindset of someone who was willing to take a calculated risk – and that’s what business school really is, a risk of two years and tuition, for something bigger down the line.  As we went through our career counseling options analysis, it became clear that he had no other appealing option that would help him make a radical move.  He was not going to start a company.  He was not going to move to New York without a job.  He needed to shake things up.

He was also an excellent test taker.  We had initially met in part to evaluate business school but I knew him from high school SAT days since he had attended Daniel Hand High School in Madison, CT.  I knew he would do very well on the GMAT.  Through his college roommate’s father, he also had a connection at a strong business school in New York.

In this instance, given his goals, getting an MBA made plenty of sense.

Client 2 was working in retail in the Clinton, CT  Outlets.  She was a manager. But, this was not what she expected to be doing 4 years out of college.  She had majored in marketing and approached us for career counseling with a specific question regarding whether she should attend business school.  She was about to enroll in a local MBA program.  But, she had no real sense of what she would do after business school.  She simply knew that she did not want to work in retail for the rest of her life. However, her sense of ambition was different than that of Client 1.  She was actually quite happy with living in the Connecticut Shoreline.  She lived for the beach.  She relished her time with her family in Guilford and her fiancee lived and worked in New Haven.  When we went through our career counseling values assessment, it became fairly clear that her real desire was to be a stay home mom – finances permitting – and/or work in a job that would enable her to spend a lot of time with her children.

While it might seem strange that our career counseling session led to the conclusion that the career that she really desired was motherhood, it also was a wake-up call for her regarding the tuition that she was about to pay.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to save that money so that she would not have a big loan payment?  That would help her stay home.  In addition, I pointed out that an MBA for her might not be needed because she might want jobs that worked around motherhood rather than the other way around.  Such jobs typically do not require advanced degrees.  She agreed.

Three years later, I received a very happy note from her as she thanked me for talking her out of business school on behalf of her beautiful baby girl!