MBAs are best done when you are shifting to the Phase 2 of your career. The phase 1 of your career is usually right after your undergraduate degree. The phase 1 is usually when you are exposed to a professional work environment for the first time. You start to learn the ropes as a developer, marketer, investment banking associate, accountant etc. You work full-time and grasp the essential work skills. You will find the first 2-3 years the period of most growth – in earning and learning.
However, there hits a point for many when the growth starts slowing down. Either you are not given adequate management responsibilities or you don’t have adequate skills for it. This happens due to 3 main reasons.
- Our undergrad degrees don’t do a good job of teaching how to manage. While a Bachelor in Engineering hopefully has taught the person quantitative methods, these programs are very thin on the soft sciences.
- Most people learn management skills from actually doing. However, reality often forces us to be more reactive without providing a lot of time to look at the big picture. When we learn a sport or a musical instrument on our own, we often get into bad practices that are hard to unlearn. Sure, some geniuses do become masters on their own, but others need a coach/master.
- Some realize that their undergrad career path is no longer interesting and want to move out of development, advertising, accounting, etc.
This point usually comes in the mid to late 20s (when you are 4-5 years into the game). This is the ideal time to do the MBA.
- MBA lets you switch careers. A developer could dabble with completely new career paths like Management Consulting or Investment Banking, or something more closer like Product Management. Instead of spending a lifetime hating what you do, you can experiment multiple paths during the 2 years (1 year MBAs don’t get this luxury). Essentially it is a reset button where you become an intern once again.
- MBA lets you connect. Undergrad classes are usually homogeneous. Most people in your engineering class tend to be geeks like you and end up in similar industries. Good MBA programs are very diverse and can help you connect with a diverse group – from politicians to business people to advertisers and teachers.
- MBA lets you communicate better. When you are a developer for too long, sometimes it can become harder for you to communicate with the rest of the organization. Even experienced devs can become very frustrated as they neither understand the jargon of the business guys nor spend the time to refine the communication.
- MBA gives you time to ponder and understand. When someone is busy climbing the career ladder, there is often very little time to grasp it all and organize. MBA gives you opportunity at the right time to organize and fix. You ruminate and ponder how you could have done the last few years better and hopefully don’t make the same mistakes.
- MBA lets you be more rounded. Engineering students can often be too analytical and find it hard to grasp people in other departments of the enterprise (legal, accounting, marketing). In fact, some engineers grow up to be clueless of what the marketing or sales team do in taking their product to the market. Marketing students on the other hand might find it hard to do quantitative stuff. In an MBA program, you try to fix your weak point and be more well-rounded. Hopefully, you have a broad understanding of what an entire enterprise does, while still being a master in your target path.
Article of BalajiViswanathan