Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When Getting Your MBA - Considerations for Your Partner

Your life is about to be changed by the MBA experience: you are preparing to expand your knowledge base and your network, to embark on a program that will launch a new and exciting phase of your career. This experience will also change the lives of the people around you, most notably that of your partner. Last year, I started making my list of target programs two weeks after getting engaged. It became very clear that I wasn’t taking my MBA journey alone and that I needed to involve my fiancé in the decision making process. Here are a few of the issues we discussed as I put together my list of target schools:

-Location, Location, Location: After making a list of the programs that would best enable me to achieve my career goals, we discussed location. If we had to move, was the school located in a city that my fiancé would want to live in? Did we know anyone living in that city that could function as a support system? Was a long-distance relationship an option for us? Would we be willing to move again after graduation to pursue career opportunities?
- Partner’s Career: If you are moving with your partner, talk about how your partner’s career will be affected. Will he or she be able to grow in their career if they move with you? Will he or she have to change their career path, and are they ok with that?
-Debt: As you are thinking about financing your MBA, consider the amount of debt you’ll have to take on and what implications that will have on your lifestyle after school. It was helpful to discuss the timeframe for paying off student loans and how that would affect our future.
-During the MBA: During the MBA, you will be extremely busy with your academics, career search, and club opportunities. Talk about how your partner will be involved in the community you are entering. Do your target programs offer opportunities for partners? Is that something that is important to you?

Though it can be overwhelming to consider all of these issues as you are taking the GMAT, writing essays, and lining up recommendations, it is helpful to decide which of these factors are going to influence your decision about which school to attend. Hopefully, by considering them early in the process, you’ll be able to successfully embark on an MBA at a program that is fulfilling for both you and your partner.

Julia Suarez, Forté Fellow Class of 2012
Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University

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