In an increasingly competitive job environment more and more professionals are seeking to make themselves more attractive by upgrading their credentials. There is also a certain degree of “credential creep” that is part of this process. If you’re not familiar with the term is basically refers to the idea that what formerly used to be considered an over-qualification for a job is now a prerequisite. For myself this means slogging away at a Master’s of Education and Young is working on a Master’s of her own. Ours would not be considered the most profitable of higher educational pursuits though – that distinction would likely belong to the vaunted Master’s of Business Administration or MBA. So the question for many young people that are trying to find their way in a crowded workplace today is what is the return on investment for an MBA and subsequently, is it worth their time and effort?
A Personal Choice
There are a lot of financial decisions that will likely come into play when you look at if doing an MBA is right for you. First and foremost is probably the upfront cost. I know several companies that will foot part of, if not the whole bill for an MBA. It’s pretty stuff to say no at that point in my opinion. You are making yourself more attractive to the company, plus they are sinking money into you so from their investment standpoint they don’t want to lose you purely for that reason. It’s like if you have two quarterbacks who are equally good but one gets paid a lot more. Guess who gets the start? (Unless you’re like my beloved bombers and then everyone is equally incompetent and/or fragile so the decision doesn’t really matter.) Another consideration for young people is how much debt they have on their personal ledger. If you already have several years of post-secondary studies behind you and you followed that up with a few years at sub-par wages because it’s an employer’s market, then you likely still have some fairly substantial student loans to pay off. Adding to this burden can make it appear very unattractive, and is definitely something to consider.
Paying For “Who You Know”
One interesting fact that continuously came up when I was reading both American and Canadian articles on MBAs is the idea that the most valuable thing you will get out of the experience is not knowledge or even the credential – but instead the connections. Now I should point out that several people were dubious about the value in making connections with a bunch of other people who were trying to make connections and climb the same ladder you were. There are definitely some programs out there that make a strong pitch in regards to their alumni being available for resources and help if need be. I had never thought about that viewpoint of a MBA before.
I came across a couple of interesting perspectives on MBAs when I was doing a little research in order to answer the question of “Is an MBA Worth It?” Anna Ivey from the University of Chicago states, “If [an MBA] is something that you’re doing because you want to make more money, rather than because you’re really interested in how businesses function, you’ll probably be disappointed,” she says. This probably isn’t what you wanted to hear if you thought that hitting the books for a couple more years was going to be your ticket to the top. For a Canadian perspective I defer to Henry Mintzberg who is a professor of management studies at McGill University and author of “Managers Not MBAs.” He blatantly states that, “The MBA trains the wrong people in the wrongs ways with the wrong consequences.” It sounds like some of the courses available in the business stream mirror the complete disconnect we see behind theory and practice in the field of education. It’s sort of amazing to me that these sort of scenarios can continue on, but there seems to be no shortage of demand for the programs so I guess there is little incentive to take note. Continue Reading →