Thursday, September 8, 2011

When is the right time to get an MBA?

Different people decide to pursue an MBA for very different reasons. For many, earning an MBA presents the opportunity to obtain the skills necessary for making a desired career-switch. Others have already begun building experience in their industry of choice, but see the MBA as a means of accelerating their careers. Some are current undergraduates who have a clear vision of their ideal career path, have demonstrated leadership potential, and know the value of the MBA. Others are entrepreneurs who want to tap into the resources that an MBA program can provide and begin to work on their own ventures.

Regardless of where you may fall on that scale, one of the most difficult tasks is deciding when to pursue an MBA.

So, how do you know if this is the right time to get an MBA?

First, identify your career goals. It will be easier to visualize them if you actually write them down. You can do this on paper or in a type-written document. Even writing an email to yourself will suffice. Next, calculate which percentage of those goals would be facilitated by having an MBA. If the result is the majority, then you should have a pretty good idea that it is time to start exploring MBA programs more seriously.

Be sure to consider the costs and the benefits of beginning this journey. Yes, taking yourself off of the job market for two years to obtain an MBA will require a significant investment of time and resources. On the positive side, you will be two years closer to achieving your goal. If that enticement is enough to ignite your determination, then now is the time to begin your due diligence. Research the structure, size, and locations of the various MBA programs. Visit classes. Tour the campuses. Get a feel for the culture. Identify the programs which have strong recruitment track records and professional clubs in your field of preference. Reach out to managers and/or professors for potential recommendations. Connect with current students, administrators, alums, and local business professionals. The Forte Forums also provide an excellent opportunity network with women in business who can provide valuable insight from their own experiences.

If after you have done your due diligence and identified the best program fits, you feel as though you are already on the fast-track to accelerating your career, keep up the momentum and get those applications started!

Mary Fuller, Forte Fellow
Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management
Cornell University
MBA Class of 2013

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