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MBA Perceptions And Experiences  
User currently offlineMCIrunway From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 45 posts, RR: 0
Posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 1233 times:

So I've been out of school for three years and have a small amount of project leadership experience under my belt. Typically each semester I enroll in a community college class for personal growth, like Classical Mythology and Italian, etc. But now I think I should be working towards another degree, if I'm going to commit myself to studying, classes, tests. Then, of course, there's employer tuition reimbursement, which I don't want to waste.

I'd like to begin a thread about the MBA degree. Comments of perceptions and experiences are welcome. On one hand, I'm well aware of the MBA craze of late, exploited by the onslaught of certain “degree factories,” and how that tends to diminish respectability. On the other hand, it seems like such a practical and useful degree.

9 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineTWFirst From Vatican City, joined Apr 2000, 6346 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1219 times:

Depends on where you want to work (location) and what field you're in. In NYC, an MBA is almost a requirement. In the Midwest, maybe not so much.

I would agree that an MBA is a practical and useful degree... I began using the knowledge I learned in my MBA program instantaneously. In retrospect though, I think I would have chosen a different school.



An unexamined life isn't worth living.
User currently offlineNYCFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1388 posts, RR: 9
Reply 2, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1216 times:

good thread! I just sent in some applications! wish me luck. crossing my fingers for Columbia.

some people have said it's an unnecessary degree. There's a case for it, but it provides good credibility, good connections, and in my case, I definitely have a lot to learn in the finance and corporate strategy fields.


User currently offlineYu138086 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1199 times:

Utterly useless! Expensive toilet paper. Unless you own the company, you will reach your glass cieling in the corporate world.

What gets me ahead is what i have taught myself and/or learned from practical experience (ie. street smarts). I've worked with IVY league MBA's that are only capable of licking envelopes and have been sheltered all their life. Pose a practical problem to them and they apply useless textbook theory to solve it.

Financially, I would NOT consider it a wise ROI, however be mindful of the fact that in some countries it provides for a high social status. Also remeber that before you can command the plane you first have to know how to fly it. An MBA will not automatically put you in the Captain's seat... get my drift?

BTW... Everything can be found online nowadays.

Cheers.


User currently offlineStevenUhl777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1176 times:

First, I'd like to reply to some comments, then I'll make my own and share my experiences.

Quoting MCIrunway (Thread starter):
But now I think I should be working towards another degree, if I'm going to commit myself to studying, classes, tests. Then, of course, there's employer tuition reimbursement, which I don't want to waste

I would say you're definitely a prime candidate to pursue a graduate degree in your field. An MBA is not necessarily limited to undergrad business students, but having that background certainly helps. Definitely explore all of your options. Be sure you know what you're getting yourself into, in terms of time and financial costs. Our good friend NYCFlyer, assuming/hoping he gets into Columbia, will see a total tuition bill ranging from $75 to $100k, assuming he doesn't get any help. Most MBA's aren't that high, but $40k is a safe estimate these days. Also, know for sure what your career goals are and how you think an MBA (or other grad. degree) will help you...it will most likely be an interview/essay question at the school of your ultimate choice. The fact your employer will help pay is a huge help. Some b-schools offer not just an MBA, but other programs like a Master in Tax, Accounting, Int'l. Business, Finance, etc. If one of these areas interests you specifically, then it might be better to have something specific to your intended career path than a standard MBA, which might set you apart when you need it the most.

Not knowing how you peform on standardized tests, I will give you this bit of advice vis a vis the GMAT, which you will have to take: take as many full-length practice tests as you can, so that you can get through the entire 3.5 hour test without a lot of problems. Don't worry so much about the writing part, as that's scored separately. Get at least a 4, higher if possible, and a 6 if you want to go to Harvard, Wharton, etc. Anyhow, I didn't do this the first time, and got a 370/800. I practiced like crazy the 2nd time around, and wound up increasing my overall score by nearly 100 points! This really impressed the school where I applied, see my comments below.

As far as GMAT prep. goes, I recommend the Kaplan guide with the CD software, which goes for about $38. I used the '05 edition. There are others, of course, but take this approach before spending big bucks for a class. I spent $375 for a prep. class, which was only marginally helpful. Again, it depends on you.

Here's a link that has some great info. as well, and where you'll also need to register to take the GMAT. http://www.mba.com

Quoting NYCFlyer (Reply 2):
I just sent in some applications! wish me luck. crossing my fingers for Columbia

Good luck, NYCFlyer!  bigthumbsup 

Quoting Yu138086 (Reply 3):
What gets me ahead is what i have taught myself and/or learned from practical experience (ie. street smarts)

There's a lot of people just like you (my Dad is also a great example) who have learned through practical experience and have excelled in their field, and have done quite well. Another example is the CEO of my company, which is one of the largest private owners of timberlands in the US. He is a CPA, but doesn't have a grad. degree, yet he was the CFO and now CEO.

Quoting Yu138086 (Reply 3):
An MBA will not automatically put you in the Captain's seat... get my drift?

Agreed. Nor does it guarantee a huge raise the day after you graduate, either, and that easily applies to bachelor's degrees as well. It all depends on what the individual graduate does with it and the initiative and ability to pursue and reach their goals. Some MBA's can't manage their way out of a brown paper bag, some high school grads. can lead an army to victory. There is a famous West Point student, I can't recall his name, but he either dropped out or finished low in his class, but went on to great success in the military.

Quoting Yu138086, reply=3:
BTW... Everything can be found online nowadays.

Do you mean an online degree? Or do you mean being able to find answers to sme question simply by "googling" it? If you mean an online degree, be careful and really do research into that school. Sure, they cater to working adults, but they are often not that much cheaper than a private school, and you don't get the classroom experience and networking opportunities like a traditional campus. At the very least, make sure the online school is well recognized in your region or nationwide, like Univ. of Phoenix, where I took online accounting classes, albeit not for a degree. UOP for one is regionally accredited, meaning each state where they have a 'brick and mortar' facility recognizes their programs.

Ideally, aim to get into the best school possible, preferrably one with an AACSB rating, which fewer than 40% of all b-schools have. Among other things, it means that a large number, if not all, the members of the faculty have earned their PhD. What speaks more to me are profs. that have REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE to draw upon in their lectures, as opposed to a career teacher who has never seen the inside of a real boardroom, except every Thursday night on TV.

Ok...now for me.

I realized about two years ago that I had indeed reached a ceiling where I wouldn't advance further in my field, at my current company or elsewhere, without additional knowledge and skills. While I had considered grad. school before, I wanted to get some work experience first and make sure it was the right path for me.

I did the research as I suggested above, and decided that an MBA was the right step, and learned I needed to take the GMAT. I bought the books, studied on my own and didn't get very far, and then took a prep. class offered through the school where I wanted to go, Seattle Univ., just east of downtown Seattle. Two months later, I took the test and choked. I was crushed, didn't know what went wrong. Months later, after a lot of reevaluation, I rededicated myself to taking it again, and it occurred to me that the test is one more of stamina and the ability to stay focused, which is true of the entire degree process. I took one full practice test after another (they are very accurate, by the way) to the point where I felt confident. Test day came again this past January, and I increased my score nearly 100 points, or 26%. The fact I increased it that much impressed Seattle Univ. more than the actual result! It's the retake and demonstrated improvement that spoke volumes.

Currently, I applied and was accepted to Seattle U.'s MBA program, on condition that I pass their Business Calculus course, which I'm currently taking now. It also satisfies my math proficiency requirement for graduation from SU, and a lot of other high-ranked b-schools also require a "math boot camp", I know Wharton (Univ. of PA) does.

Anyhow...hope all that helps/inspires you! Let me know if you have other questions, and above all...stay focused and good luck!

Hopefully Saxdiva willl see this post and share her thoughts, as I believe she has an MBA from one of the UC schools.


User currently offlineCaptoveur From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 1169 times:

Quoting Yu138086 (Reply 3):
Utterly useless! Expensive toilet paper. Unless you own the company, you will reach your glass cieling in the corporate world.

Well written. I see an MBA as just resume filler. Much like a BBA is come to think of it. Colleges aren't about education, you have to go and educate yourself, colleges are about making money for themselves. There is very little that will be taught about business in a classroom that could not have better been taught by real world experience (I have both). The writers of business textbooks and the people teaching the drivel in them are at least one step behind the curve. Also, the information is too general to really mean anything so no matter what, when you get a job you will spend a fair amount of time learning how things are done in that industry or that company and the further you go with things the less the classroom crap really means.

Quoting Yu138086 (Reply 3):
Financially, I would NOT consider it a wise ROI, however be mindful of the fact that in some countries it provides for a high social status.

Depends on the corporate culture where you work. Many companies offer some kind of deal on tuition and they will often up your pay rate the second you complete the degree, you make back what you put in pretty fast. If you only look at the monetary costs that is. It still doesn't matter what degrees you have, if you aren't hooked in or on good terms with the right people in a company that moves people up from within you will still be in the same job just making more money. In a lower level job being paid at an MBA rate is a great way to get cut should your company be aquired by someone else or "streamlined."


User currently offlineStevenUhl777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 1159 times:

Quoting Captoveur (Reply 5):
Colleges aren't about education, you have to go and educate yourself,

Hmmm...can't say I agree with that first part of your statement, but to an extent, I agree with Part II.

Learning is lifelong. It occurs in the classroom, workplace, and in social situations. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to pursue the best sources of education that will advance them in the direction in which they want to go. Some people go to college to party, some go to meet their partner in life. Some go because Mommy and Daddy wrote a check and got them in on their name and junior has nothing better to do. In my undegrad years, I met all types I just described.

For some, yes...an MBA is just that...a line on a resume. Like I said before, it all depends on the individual and where they go with it. Those who enter an MBA program knowing exactly what they want out of it will get exactly that...and it will benefit them. Others who want it for simply for prestige will see reality catch up with them, and might realize one day it really didn't do them a lick of good. One of the things MBA program admission staffs look for in candidates is who is focused and who isn't. Makes sense, as their reputation is on the line as well...better, more qualified and focused candidates ultimately will make the school look better and in turn, with donations, can make further improvements and adapt to changes in the marketplace.

One of the reasons I think why maybe the MBA has taken a beating lately are the high-profile accounting scandals. People assume that those in charge have an MBA, which may/may not be the case. One other big reason of course is President George W. Bush, who has an MBA from Harvard (I think...maybe it's Yale) and so there is an automatic negative connotation there. Guilty by association, I suppose.  Yeah sure

Another reason is all these online schools who can offer a degree in 1-2 years, and ultimately "dilute" the value of high quality programs like Harvard, Wharton, etc.

I'd like to make one last comment here. To a certain extent, you can learn a lot on the job...I certainly have, and that helped me get into my program..work experience is valuable, in that it serves as a foundation for what will be further elaborated upon in higher-level classes, most of which use REAL WORLD business cases...like Harvard does. Instead of being overwhelmed, those with work experience can draw on it and helps make more sense of what's being taught...matching reality with theory. In certain workplaces, mine being a prime example, there is only so much you can learn...my two bosses are so overwhelmed that they simply don't have time to take an hour out of their day and teach me anything new. These days, it's more for less, and managers simply aren't paid to be teachers anymore.


User currently offlineDesertJets From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 7811 posts, RR: 16
Reply 7, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1149 times:

Some really good insight here. I would take both the positive and the negative comments offered very seriously.

That said my opinion is that the MBA is a very useful degree to have. But I am of the opinion that it is not a degree that you get directly out of undergrad. Generally most business schools prefer, if not require, that you have a few years of professional work experience under your belt before you head back to the classroom. Your success in business school is ulitmately tied to your ability to integrate book theory and your prior experience (arguably what you should always be doing).

So why should you get an MBA, or any other advanced degree? In general you need to look at your career aspirations and figure out whether or not your current qualifications are going to get you there. In a lot of people's cases they see that with just a B.A/B.S they will max out very quickly in terms of salary and their position. In many cases to move into a supervisory or other higher level positions more or less requires the advanced degree these days.



And a little bit about the GMAT. GMAT is a lot like the GRE, virtually identical except for the pricetag. So if you have done any prep work for the GRE you would be in good shape. Before you go dropping a lot of money on books from Kaplan and others may I suggest you get your test prep materials from the source. ETS and MBA.com have for free the GMAT Powerprep software. Which include TWO full tests and a fairly large bank of practice questions as well. The difference between the stuff put out by ETS and Kaplan et al, is that the ETS materials are real test questions, as opposed to questions written like GMAT questions. Plus it is free. ETS also puts out a GRE guide, the 10th edition is the current one, for about $30. Start there, read up on the format and basics of the test, take the 1st practice test in PowerPrep and go from there. The GMAT is expensive, $225 at last check, so it isn't exactly something you want to pay for more than once. Plus biz schools may not take the highest score, but average the two.



Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
User currently offlineStevenUhl777 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1135 times:

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 7):
you have a few years of professional work experience under your belt before you head back to the classroom. Your success in business school is ulitmately tied to your ability to integrate book theory and your prior experience (arguably what you should always be doing).

Absolutely agree. For most schools, applicants are 30-32 and have 6-7 years work experience already. Most require at minimum 1 year of work experience, which to me seems useless.

Quoting DesertJets (Reply 7):
The GMAT is expensive, $225 at last check, so it isn't exactly something you want to pay for more than once. Plus biz schools may not take the highest score, but average the two.

Yes...I paid $225 for my test last March, and then again in January of this year. I disagree that biz schools won't take your higher score, though...I would argue that they DO take the highest, as they themselves are ranked by mean GMAT score for national rankings. Why average two scores when they could just use the best?


User currently offlineNYCFlyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1388 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (9 years 8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 1131 times:

StevenUhl and DesertJets - excellent comments from both of you. And Steve, thanks for the thumbs up on Columbia  Smile

I think an MBA is useful, but only if it will better help you realize your career goals. In my case, I have done a lot of int'l development work in the government (was in Iraq for a year) and non-profit sectors, and I want to move into the private sector to do venture capital in the developing world. For me, a degree like this is sort of a necessity. For others, it's a two year vacation and they go right back to what they were doing. Either way, you learn a lot academically, but even more so, you're in an environment of intelligent, like-minded peers. From your classmates you learn a lot about various career paths, jobs, ways of living, etc. Those connections are just as important as the academic work. The alumni network can be valuable in the long run. Let's face it, for better or worse, a lot of life is about who you know, and a good alumni network is a good thing to have. Lastly, while at the end of the day, it is just a line on the resume, it's a pretty nice line to have.


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