Saturday, October 27, 2007

MBA - reality bites

As a certified MBA, I get questions from friends and relatives (and their friends and relatives, zillion times removed) on whether they should do MBA or not. When I talk to them, I find a bit of star-struck wonder of the MBA degree, that within just 2 years (1 year in some b-schools) they can boss around people or within 5 years become dollar millionaries ... Sometimes it is worse, it is parents who say they want their son to get an MBA and what they should do about that. *shudder*

So, here are some facts about the MBA:
a) Admission to a b-school doesn't automatically mean you are an MBA. You have to slog for 2 long years, where you are subject to the eccentricities of sadistic profs and stupid courses. You thought you were finished with your exams when you graduated ? Wait till you get into a b-school. I used my scienfic calculator more in my 2 years of MBA than in 4 years of engineering and my grades were least since my kindergarter :(

b) B-schools teach you business, they don't teach you management. Thank God for that. There is a book called "Managers, not MBAs", where the author proposes for teaching management, but then he is just parroting the words of lazy HR people. Nobody can teach you management, not the least a professor who has never worked in industry - you have to learn it. You *can* learn business concepts on the job too, it is just that an MBA gives you a good excuse.

c) You will be cash-flow negative during your MBA. Obvious, but most people can't understand that. Instead of earning money and sitting in AC rooms (esp in software/high-tech sector), you'll now spend your 2 years in self-sponsored torture - with probably and hopefully non-AC hostel rooms, and awake at night, studying for a stupid case study for the next day. Even in government-subsidized IITs, the fees is atleast 50K per semester
There are educational loans available and you start repayment only 6 months after completion of your course, but that constrains the job offers you can pick up. Say bye-bye to the entrepreneurship or NGO you always want to get into.

d) It is nice to read all those placement figures, but they come with lots of conditionalities. First, if it is the median pay, it means half the class got less than that. What are the odds you'll be in the top half ? Second, if the students are clever about negotiating the pay package, the HR is also clever in offering things you'll probably never avail. After all, one of their KPIs is to reduce the salary they pay you. Then, there is the income tax ... assume that around 25-33% of your income goes in tax, but you shouldn't worry about that - after all, you are patriotic citizen of the country, aren't you ? The last thing, is of course, what you are going to do with so much money ? Other than a ego gratification to have outsmarted and out-negotiated the HR and also have got more than your friends, what is the point ?

e) The new job isn't going to be terribly different from your old job. You still have to manage bosses and you still have targets and deadlines. You may still have to work late nights. For instance, if you worked in an IT company because IT was in "scope" before and you want to do an MBA to shift jobs, you might be in for a disappointment. If you can't choose properly and you can't enjoy the work that you have chosen, then how are you sure you are right this time ?

I hope I have punctured your balloon ...

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At Monday, 24 December, 2007 at 6:50:00 PM IST, Anonymous warrior prince said...

Quite interesting. Many ppl does not knw that getting a MBA DEGREE is no shortcut to fame n success.

There r so many trials n tribulations behind every victory.


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