These days, with the economy stalling and jobs still hard to come by, many people are looking to advanced degrees as a way to rise above the competition. Graduate school enrollments especially in programs leading to MBA degrees are at record levels and show no signs of slowing.
However, not everyone agrees that an MBA is a ticket to career success, cautioning that the investment of time and money required for a degree may not be worthwhile in the long run. They point out that the MBA does not equate to career success, pointing to phenomenally successful people who do not have degrees, such as Richard Branson or the late Steve Jobs.
While you can always find exceptions to every rule, that doesn’t mean you should rule out seeking an online MBA degree. The benefits of seeking a master of business administration can extend well beyond the practical knowledge you gain in the classroom, and influence the rest of your career and life as a whole.
No MBA? Don’t Even Apply
In some fields, you need a MBA degree to even qualify to apply for jobs. Strategic planning, consulting, finance and investment positions generally require applicants to hold an advanced degree before they even apply for a job; without that degree, your resume won’t even be considered.
In other fields, the MBA may not be required, but the advanced knowledge and experience that you gain through your studies can give you an edge. For example, if you want to work in healthcare administration, it’s possible to land a job with a bachelor’s degree and some experience, but you won’t reach the upper levels and those big salaries without a degree.
And not only does holding a the MBA open up opportunities for positions, when you graduate from a business program, you’ll get access to your school’s career service department and the resources available there resume and application assistance, job postings and introductions to recruiters and employers.
While improved career prospects are certainly appealing to many prospective MBA students, many students and graduates in a recent survey listed personal growth as a major benefit of completing the program. Finishing an advanced degree program requires a great deal of personal commitment and sacrifice; for example, are rigorous and challenging programs requiring many hours of study every week. Students who complete graduate programs often have a great deal of pride in their accomplishment, as well as confidence in their abilities and knowledge.
Building a Network
Another benefit to seeking an advanced business degree? The chance to build a strong network of personal and business contacts. Whether you attend courses online or in person, you’ll have the chance to meet and work with other students and professionals from all over the world. These people can become integral parts of your business network and the work that you do for your courses will introduce you to people who could become instrumental in your future career. Many business schools offer active alumni networks, as well, with regular meetings, parties and job fairs for members to give them the chance to interact and share ideas and resources.
Concentrate on Your Passion
When you enter a MBA program, you generally have the opportunity to choose an area of concentration, such as finance, marketing or leadership. If you have a passion for a particular subject area, or want to open up new career prospects, a master of business administration degree allows you to improve your foundation of basic business knowledge while also gaining extensive knowledge in a specific subject area. Concentrating in a particular area shows your interest in a particular area or job function, and allows you to explore a passion.
When you are considering whether or not to go back to school, it might be tempting to be swayed by those with the opinion that a program is not worth it. However, only you and you alone can decide whether a degree is worthwhile or not. Carefully consider your interests, career goals and personal goals, and your available time and money before you choose to enroll. When you enter the program with the right expectations and set realistic goals, chances are you’ll find that getting the MBA was one of the best decisions you ever made.
About the Author: Carolyn Grant made the huge switch from human resources to marketing and decided to earn her MBA. She is currently working on receiving it from an online program.