MBA Student

MBA Student


Chicago, IL

Male, 29

I recently graduated from a Top 10 b-school. I learned a fair amount, had tons of fun, and made some great friends. But while having the diploma is great, I’m still unsure as to whether I would’ve been better off remaining in the workforce for those two years. Ask me anything.

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20 Questions


Last Answer on March 02, 2013

Best Rated

How many years of work experience do you to apply to business school?

Asked by sunil about 12 years ago

My understanding is that the average entrant age is 27. That represents about 4-5 years of work experience prior to matriculation. While I don't think there's a "correct” answer to this question, that level of experience sounds about right. It allows you to get a better sense of what you’d really like to do with your career and how business school is going to help get you there. Let’s be honest: what you think you’d like to do at 21 can change significantly by age 25, 30, and so on. It’s worth taking the time to figure out the career course you’re plotting before making the commitment to attend – otherwise it might be a tremendous waste. Furthermore, several years of experience under your belt familiarizes you with how the working world actually functions and what an office environment really entails. I had a small number of classmates with less than three years of working experience, and they were at a clear disadvantage in terms of people and time management.

What’s a typical salary for an MBA after graduation?

Asked by Jonah_87 about 12 years ago

This varies widely by industry, but I believe the average starting salaries for Top 20 b-school grads fall roughly in the $100-110K range. Obviously those going into investment banking or consulting can be markedly higher ($150K+), while others going into operating roles for goods/services/entertainment companies can range from $80-$100K.

Is it true that compared to law school and medical school, business school is one big party?

Asked by B-town about 12 years ago

Compared to law school or med school, b-school definitely wears the crown for most fun. But it’s all relative – law & medical schools are notoriously 24/7 study factories, where the b-school curriculum also places emphasis on socializing & networking. And quite frankly, it should – that’s a huge part of how business actually gets done. But the work:play ratio really depends on the student. Some take it very seriously and hit the books hard. Others pay less attention to the classroom and focus on the social activities. Most fall somewhere in between. Since it’s nearly impossible to fail out of b-school (all schools want to keep their graduation rate at or near 100%), a student could easily party like it’s 1999 and still receive a diploma (and that goes for any b-school). So it’s really up to the student as to what their work/play mix will look like. In my case, since I was funding my education solo, I felt compelled to derive as much value out of the classroom as possible. In hindsight, I probably could’ve eased up on the books a bit, but I still had a great time.

What kinds of students get the most out of these MBA programs?

Asked by ishtard about 12 years ago

In short, the ones with very little business experience. As I mentioned in a previous response, ex-bankers & consultants may wind up snoozing through the curriculum given their experience. But for anyone without that kind of business acumen, or for someone looking to make a career switch, b-school is exactly the right place to be. For example, the former journalist who wants to get into corporate finance will extract immeasurable value from the formalized training b-school provides, given that he’s essentially starting from scratch. I’ve seen former peace corps volunteers switch to banking, former actors become consultants, you name it. B-school can, in two years, help you legitimately qualify for a completely new line of work.

Does having an MBA pigeon-hole you as the "numbers” guy in your career?

Asked by zeroby12 about 12 years ago

Very often, yes. Any company that’s ever recruited or hired me was looking to fill a quantitatively-oriented position. Business Development, Corporate Strategy, Finance … basically the number-crunching, analytical, deal-making types of roles. Not that I blame them, because after all, that’s what the degree would indicate. But I always felt I was on the more creative end of the MBA spectrum, and unfortunately there’s not a ton of room for hires in that gray area of business/creative. I’ve been sold lines before about how certain companies “really allow their business people to think creatively,” but I’ve yet to experience it.

I have a few friends who, when applying, said things like, "If I don't get into a top 3 business school school, I won't even bother going." That sounds ridiculous (and frankly, kind of obnoxious), but is there something to that?

Asked by Marcus O about 12 years ago

I'm tempted to say, "Now that's just silly." But the truth is that it depends. If you're only looking to get an MBA as a stamp of approval to gain entry into top-notch banking, consulting, or Fortune 100 companies, then yes, having the Harvard, Wharton, or Stanford degrees certainly helps. Sure, those types of companies hire from many schools beyond those, but they typically have more slots for said alumni. And to be honest, those schools tend to attract some of the smartest and most ambitious people, so if networking is especially important to you, those are the cream of the crop. If, on the other hand, you're not necessarily chasing those types of positions or high-profile shmoozing but rather, just want a quality business skill set, any reasonably reputable program will provide you with ample instruction. In comparing life notes with friends who attended "lesser-ranked" (whatever that means) schools than mine, we quickly realized that the core lessons were nearly identical.

What was the most useful class you took?

Asked by zoners about 12 years ago

It was actually a real estate class, despite the fact that I have almost zero interest in the real estate business. But the professor was so well-regarded that I thought I should experience his class first-hand regardless of the subject matter. One of the best decisions I made in my two years. He was a fairly young and hysterically charismatic dude who shucked the ivory tower nonsense – he’d actually walked the walk as a successful real estate developer, and he simply loved teaching. Every class was a very plausible, practical case study, so it was easy to relate to the material. That class taught me more than I could’ve imagined about the art of the deal, how to value cash-generating assets, and how people and personalities play into all of it. As a result, I would often advise prospective students that when given the opportunity, “take the professor, not the subject.” In other words, great teaching transcends all else.