Thursday, December 21, 2006

MBA Calling : Do I need work experience ?

One question that lingers on in the minds of final year students today, is this : "Eventually I want to do an MBA. Should I directly jump into it now ? Or should I work for sometime before I take the plunge ?".

My ever-so-diplomatic-like-a-consultant answer to this is "Depends !" :) Frankly, there's no single answer to this. The answer lies in the fact that you need to be clear about why you want to do your MBA in the first place, and what are your long term aspirations after that.

I know this sounds a lot MBA-ish, but it's true. This is the most dreaded question that haunts you (or should haunt you) just before you decide to do your MBA. And believe me, if you can manage to answer this convincingly, that would lead you to the title question - Do I need work experience, once I have decided to do my MBA ?

I know all this seems too vague, and reading this post does not help you solve your problem... Rather, it confuses you even more !! To rectify that a bit, I'll take 3 instances, which would be assumptions as to why you want to do your MBA, and what are your aspirations in life. And accordingly, let's get to a conclusion whether working would be better for you at this stage, or plunging into an MBA directly.

Situation 1
"I want to go in for an MBA because it seems to be the 'in' thing today. Almost everybody seems to be going for it. And I do not want to be left our lurching in the dark."

This basically means that you have very little, or no ambition in life. You do not want too much control of things happening in your life right now, and wish to emulate the academic fashion. And that is not entirely bad ! Not everyone HAS to have an ambition of sorts. And it might happen that your ambition builds up later in life. And it might happen that happens for good. Maybe you develop capabilities sometime later, which you never thought could be the case earlier.

For people falling under this category, they could go for an MBA right away ! This is precisely because it would be good for them to get an opportunity to build their thoughts in the midst of an MBA program. Alternatively, some might feel that it would be better for them to work first, and give more clarity to their thoughts there, but I believe that if they start working after rejecting the thought of doing an MBA right now, it would be very difficult for them to rebuild this thought at a later stage.

Situation 2
An MBA would help me understand everything that goes into a professional world. I'll get to know how people work, how responsibilities are carried out, and how to rise in one's job by performing well. My aspiration is to serve my company in the best possible way that I can.

This is a very common profile, and of someone, who is professionally inclined, and wants to work in a leading company, and rising through ranks through promotions (as a result of his good work). The million-dollar question now, is should he work before pursuing his MBA ?

Monetarily speaking, it makes more sense for him to do his MBA directly. This is entirely based on the assumption that the starting salaries post-MBA would be much higher for him, than investing 2-3 years working first, and pursuing the same job later.

But looking at this from an assessing-the-worth-of-an-MBA perspective, if you have worked in an organization before your MBA, you are already aware of different lines of businesses, organization structures, company cultures, industry scenarios, etc. So, any knowledge that you gain during your MBA would benefit you much more, since you already know the applications of the same !
(An analogy to this would be this : Assume you are asked to develop a program as a part of an assignment. If you are already aware of the output, it would be much more easier for you to develop the program, against the scenario when you are only faintly aware of what it should look like.)

So, my answer to this category of aspirants, is that try and work for a couple of years, gain relevant experience, build your thoughts. And then pursue your MBA to follow on those thoughts and be a more solid professional candidate than anyone else !

Situation 3
An MBA would help me understand all aspects of a business - What goes into building one, and what goes into sustaining one. I'll get to know how companies work, how resources are managed, and how to make a mark in your respective industry. My aspiration is to build a company, that manages professionals, and contributes to the Indian economy !

This is very clearly the situation that I fall in :) Please note the choice of words in Situations 2 and 3. A lot of phrases are similar in both situations, yet very very different ! Situation 2 talks about responsibilities, persons, and a single company. Situation 3 talks about business, companies, and economies. A much-higher level imagery is presented in Situation 3, because we are talking about managing companies here, and not working for one !

Ideally, and very clearly, for these kind of profiles, a 2-3 years work-ex is suited before you do an MBA. You dream of something during very early years (as early as high school / college). You try and reinstate those thoughts, refine them during the time you work. And then build on these thoughts, and carve your dream while in an MBA. Believe me, this is much easier said than done, but the beauty of the thought is worth it !!

So, those were the three situations - very different, and very relevant. Not all people would fall under one of these, but I'm sure most of you would find similarities to some aspects of these 3 personalities.

Again, the thoughts / ideas presented here, are absolutely personal, and very much my own - Not influenced by anything in this world ! So, you might not want to apply them at all - But a comment or two about the same, would probably help me carve my way out to my dream :)


  • update thy blog!! :-)

    By Anonymous sakshi, at 1:23 AM  

  • Interesting, insightful.. but how many of us think this way before taking the plunge for an MBA? :-)

    By Blogger Salil, at 1:36 AM  

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