Being two years deep into an MBA and only a semester left ‘til graduation, there is one hard lesson I never anticipated learning during my studies that has been forced upon me like an unwanted dose of nasty cough syrup. And just like foul tasting medicine, just because it might not taste good going down, it’s still best you took your medicine at the end of the day.
That lesson is that in reality, your MBA really means shit, and your undergrad business degree probably means even less. It isn’t because the curriculum is irrelevant or not useful. I’d argue the opposite in fact. It isn’t that people don’t need good management skills, those are also invaluable. And it certainly isn’t that an MBA isn’t respected in the business world, but maybe, just maybe the degree is a little overrated.
I think the MBA is a great degree to pursue. It does a great job of rounding you out. It has completely changed my perspective on business and the world in general and taught me to be a lifelong learner. But does an employer necessarily care about all that? Nope.
Any schmuck with a bachelors degree can get an MBA
In my MBA program I have encountered more than a few pretentious assholes. Many of these people bragged about the undergraduate school they attended or their day jobs. I had a partner in a group project once tell me he couldn’t fill his obligations for our class project due to the fact that he had a demanding career working very closely to a US Senator. That didn’t change the fact that he was a lousy student, a pathetic teammate and a complainey pants crybaby. It also made me wake up to the fact that just cause you made it into a graduate program, didn’t mean you deserved to be there.
Other students had a hard time contributing because they lacked any kind of relevant work or life experience. I remember one classmate, 25 years old and an assistant manager in retail who I had the misfortune of working with a few times. This guy had an undergrad in business, spent his short career in middle management hell and was now working on yet another management degree. Guess how much insight he was able to bring to the table when our team was busy tackling a tough process improvement project or supply chain puzzle!
And that leads me to my first point about why your MBA means shit. Anyone can get into an MBA program somewhere. The degree is nothing more than a building block. It’s like putting a nice little turbo charger on your car. Sure, it’ll give you some more horsepower, but if you’re driving a Scion hatchback, it’s still a little wussy car, turbo charger or not.
Just what exactly did you learn in your MBA program?
I’m sure programs differ everywhere, but in my MBA program, you could either be a champ and tackle hardcore subject matter like finance and economics, or you could take the easy way out and pursue a bunch of HR and management classes. It’s no different than hitting the gym and deciding you’re there to really pump some iron, or just screwing around at the juice bar all afternoon and flirting with the underage girl serving up smoothies to your pudgy ass.
I saw a lot of students take the easy way out, while I was busy taking advanced corporate finance with a generous side helping of economics, they were studying up on sexual harassment policy and learning how to fire someone without hurting their feelings too bad. And at the end of the day, these little pimples graduate with the same degree as I do.
Well, let them march up on stage with me at the end of the day and collect the same degree. It doesn’t matter anyway since your MBA doesn’t mean shit.
But an MBA gets you a guaranteed job after college right…. WRONG!
I have a job lined up after college, but I didn’t get it cause I’ll have an MBA. Maybe that got me an interview, and for that foot in the door, it was worth every cent of tuition and every hour lost to reading yet another stuffy article that one of my pompous college professors wrote and force fed to me! But to say I got a job because my resume lists an MBA is a funny joke no MBA students are laughing at.
In my introduction interview for my upcoming job I was asked about my MBA studies, they said I had a great GPA and that was that. Next I had an hour long technical interview followed by a day long interview at a corporate office which included a writing assignment, two personality interviews with senior managers, a group project and a PRESENTATION in front of all my competition. I nearly puked at the end of the day.
Guess how many times my MBA came up during my day long interview. ZERO. Why, cause your MBA means shit.
Why are you getting an MBA then jackass?
I think the MBA is an awesome degree to have if done right (meaning you really dig into the meat and potatoes and lay off the fluffy HR courses). But like I pointed out above, employers care about experience, relevant skill sets and all around kick-assery.
I interviewed for a job at Mohawk Industries, one of the last great manufacturing companies in the US, in their Information Systems division. I have an undergraduate degree in Information Systems, five years experience doing database management, data mining, normalizing data, the works! And I was sitting before the hiring manager with a semester left before finishing my MBA. He told me he’d start me off as an intern to test out my skills before offering me a full time position. Why? Because my MBA (and apparently past experience and undergrad degree) don’t mean SHIT! In this economy where the talent pool is hungry for work, companies have the luxury of saying “put up or shut up.”
So why am I getting an MBA?
- Only 7.2% Americans over age 25 have a master’s degree. I want to be one.
- I want to be more well rounded and all around awesome. I crave challenge!
- I love finance, economics, entrepreneurship, and process improvement. The MBA offers all that and throws in some marketing and accounting for good measure.
- I really believe the MBA will open doors for me, through networking, experience and just having it on my resume.
So believe what you want, but your MBA all by itself, means shit.
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