Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Should You Go For an MBA Today?

Should I get an MBA?
As a double major MBA alumni from one of Canada's top universities, as well as a class rep, I get asked this question a lot, especially by prospective immigrants from Bangladesh. It's often looked at as a quick way to get Permanent Residency (and eventual citizenship) in Canada. It's relatively easier to get into an MBA program in a Canadian university as a foreigner, it's quick (2 years) and job prospects seem promising. 

First thing I would advise you is to see whether you need it for your career. An MBA is most useful if you want to set up your own business or you are in the financial or stock market area. It's a must (I feel) if you are going to start your own business here in Canada. It's probably useful if you are a manager or going to be one. If you want to go into HR, it could be helpful. 

After that, it's usefulness starts to decline rapidly compared to other options, especially getting a PMP certification, or a booster course at a community college.

Second, it's very, very costly. Rotman, for example, is the costliest in Canada, and an international student (depending on courses) can easily be looking at $108,000 in tuition alone (domestic fee is around $99,000). There are far cheaper ways to get PM into Canada. And definitely far cheaper ways to get educated.

Third, the job prospects around the world are dull. An MBA doesn't have the lure in a down market as it used to, except for some specific job sectors. If you have been working as a programmer, for example, and you want to become a manager, an MBA will not help you, but dev lead experience and technical expertise will.

Those are the downsides. However, I have also experienced the upsides. Alhamdulillah I had a consulting job that was a direct result of the MBA. It also gave me great connections (provided I leverage the alumni network). And of course the knowledge you get from an MBA itself is excellent.

If you do decide to do an MBA, based on your career path and affordability, here's some guidelines.

1) Stay away from 1 year MBAs. They are not worth it. You will not learn anything in 1 year.

2) Some schools, such as Rotman, have morning or evening part time MBAs (3 years). They may be suitable if you have a job. Ryerson also has a cheaper part time MBA for IT, which is unique in Canada.

3) Do not go for MBAs that are not in the original campus (such as a visiting MBA course in another city). You will not get the best instructors then.

4) If you are in full time MBA, look for co-op opportunities as interns. They are the best way to get into the career track you need.

5) Some universities also have an exchange option (so you can do a course or two for a term in another country's university). Take advantage of that if you can.

6) GMAT is really, really, really important.

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