Is An MBA Worth It?
I was handed a layoff notice in the summer of 2016 while working at the Toronto Star.
I wasn’t alone. Dozens in the editorial department at the Star faced the axe during that fateful summer.
It wasn’t a shock.
Print newspaper readership continued its precipitous drop as audiences found different routes to read the news online.
It was at that point I decided to change my career trajectory. While many of my colleagues chose to stick it out in journalism, others went off into adjacent industries such as communications and public relations.
I decided to enrol into an MBA program. I had a goal in mind. It entailed pivoting my decade of journalism experience into a new realm: marketing.
Was it worth it?
I’ll aim to answer that question in the points below. And if you’re looking to get an MBA – or currently in an MBA program – keep on reading.
1. Career Pivot
If you’re like me and looking to pivot your career, it’s worth getting an MBA. For those of us who come from non-business backgrounds, it helps that MBAs now offer specializations. For example, I chose the Schulich School of Business in Toronto because it has a media specialization, which attracts a handful of students each year. Schulich’s MBA also has an amazing marketing department, with globally renowned instructors. You’re learning from the best.
The benefit of a specialization is that it helps you feel right at home in business school. Going to a school where you fit is important. After all, you’re dolling out quite a bit of money for a two-year-long program. You want to get the most value out of those two years. It also makes the career pivot less jarring.
Specializations also complement your work history. I found my MBA curriculum paired well with my work history as a media professional, and that in turn helps you with the job hunt post-MBA. An MBA is a viable option if you’re thinking of pivoting careers. And if you’re thinking of a management career in marketing, it’s a great route.
Every fall, top business schools attract a host of consulting firms during recruitment fairs. Many of my former fellow students were set on careers in consulting. They just needed those three letters on their Linkedin profiles.
And from what I’ve seen, most do land jobs at firms of their choice. Unlike marketing, where you don’t need an MBA unless you want to reach the C-suite of a firm, consultants often need an MBA to get that next gig. If a career in consulting is in your future, then you’ll already know the value of an MBA.
3. Business Parlance and Strategic Mindset
I completed my undergrad in journalism and while journalism schools teach you the invaluable skills of storytelling, researching, and reporting, they don’t tell you how your work relates to the bottom line. One of the most valuable aspects of an MBA is it teaches you to speak the language of business. From KPI to ROI, business school makes you understand how your work impacts revenue. You’ll learn an array of frameworks and methods to navigate ambiguity, and the language that goes along with it. This is especially valuable to those of us who have non-business undergraduate degrees and are looking for careers in management.
Top business schools are known for their networks, which are helpful in setting you up with the right career. I completed two internships during my MBA, and both of them stemmed from contacts at Schulich. One of the most valuable aspects of a great MBA program is the access you’ll have to a wide breadth of graduates. While you don’t need an MBA to access a great network, a great MBA program will give you access to a network you’ll always be a part of as you continue your career journey.
So, Is the MBA Worth It?
If you’re getting the MBA for any of the above reasons, it is worth considering. But it’s important to remember that the MBA isn’t cheap. My Schulich MBA cost nearly $100,000 for two years (though the school is great with grants and scholarships). Top MBA programs in Canada are about the same price. And if you’re going to school full-time, you’ll lose out on two years of salary.
Additionally, because it’s such a pricey and time-intensive investment, it’s important to know what you plan on doing with your MBA after you graduate. Take time to research the types of careers you’ll land once you graduate with an MBA. I’d recommend doing this prior to sending out any applications, or prior to writing the GMAT.
Finally, I wrote a column earlier this year for the Toronto Star on graduating with an MBA amid the COVID-19 pandemic. After posting the piece on my Linkedin page, several prospective MBA hopefuls messaged me about their concerns. With schools primarily run online today, many worried the MBA experience wouldn’t be the same.
I agree. It’s not.
Due to COVID-19, I took several courses online near the end of my MBA. It wasn’t the same. I feel the cost of an in-person MBA isn’t worth it when you’re completing it online. You miss out on so many in-person networking opportunities. If you are planning to do an MBA, consider the fact that even the top-tier programs are currently online. However, with a COVID-19 vaccine now available, schools will eventually open up their literal doors.
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