Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Update-- Two Years Later

I must say that I am flattered by all the responses I've been getting lately on my caveat emptor from two years ago. Many a prospective-MBA have written in and asked me if I still stand by my point of view, and have asked for my advice.

The answer, in a word, is yes-- now more than ever. I still stand by my opinion that for most people, the cons of pursuing a full-time MBA outweigh the pros of doing so. Furthermore, many of the pros are but "half-truths".

I would, however, like to clarify, that for those of you who wish to pursue a career in finance (i-banking, private equity, sales/trading, hedge funds), an MBA is generally a prerequisite. Recruiting typically only takes place on b-school campuses, and the network of alumni seems to be the talent pool of choice for the tycoons of wall street. However, for the rest of you, I would sincerely think twice before you take two years out of your formative career years and bury yourselves neck-deep in taxable debt.

The second question that many people have been emailing me is "How has your career progressed in the 6 years since your Wharton graduation?"

The answer is, quite well. ;-)

I am currently quite happily employed in the new media department of a major entertainment company. I will also admit that I got the job two years ago through a friend that I met at Wharton. So I suppose I can't exactly say that the B-school network is worthless. However, I will tell you that in almost every career field, you will be judged on your skills MUCH more than you will be judged on your pedigree. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to bet that nobody I work with knows, nor gives a darn that I have an MBA from Wharton. People care about how well I do my job, about how well I get along with my colleagues, about my leadership abilities, about my business sense, about my vision, about my ability to make more money for the company, even about the way I dress. NOBODY ever asks about where I went to school.

At any rate, if any of you are conflicted on whether or not to pursue a full-time MBA, please send me an email and I will help you as best I can. Thanks again for all your kind words!


By the way, you can check out the fantastic podcast series, Knowledge @ Wharton, for FREE on iTunes. They have amazing lectures from the Wharton faculty, and its free!


Blogger asthetikz said...

I think your conclusion is correct; however, that does nothing to deny the implication that the Wharton degree got you in the door, so to speak. That is often the part which is much less under your own control than is the actual work you perform after you get the job but is precisely where having the prestigious degree helps.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well said. Particularly like the "taxable debt" part! Tim

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information; it's helpful. I guess the corollary to this is, for those who have been working for a while, if you think you've built up quite a network of business contacts, do you need the MBA? (MBA schools are good for building contacts... hustle and competence will get you everything else.) $1500/mo is alot of money, even if you're making $350,000/year as a trader (lesson #2 -- as your income goes up, your expenses will balloon). Anyway, thanks for the information.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy said...

Hmm...Given your comments...What are your thoughts on a part-time MBA program through a top-tier school?

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Christian,
Thanks for your blog, just what I need. The comments section is also very refreshing and entertaining, for all the unspoken truths. I would like to email you but I could not find your email address in your blog space. Anyway, I am considering the MBA, I am a technical person, 7 yrs experience, 33yo (too old?), now making 6-figures salary. I am considering a career change (to finance / management in other industry) because I realize I have reached the glass ceiling. I have no background in finance. I want to know your take if you were in my position. Pls be brutally honest with me. I am ready to hear from you. Thanks!

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm quite certain that I would not have been able to land my current gig without my Wharton MBA. When I applied to Mckinsey out of undergrad, nobody there was willing to even speak to me. Several years later after being admitted to Wharton, I received unsolicited emails, letters and phone calls from several Mckinsey offices wanting to take me out to coffee. Christian is right that it takes more than pedigree to get ahead in life. However, the Wharton MBA opened doors that would have otherwise remained close to me. Also, if pedigree gets you into a leadership position earlier in your career, you have a shot at a higher career trajectory than others who enter such positions later in life. If you're in your late 50s by the time you chalk up a good 10-15 solid years of senior management experience, you might be passed over for the CEO job. Being first among equals is more than being the most accomplished or having the best political savvy. It's also about vigour and youthfulness. I've no doubt John McCain would have been the more able President but his age got in the way.

11:00 AM  
Blogger technomom said...

I find your analysis and the update very interesting. I found the link to the initial post in Josh Kaufman's Personal MBA manifesto that was published a few years ago.

I'm wondering if there's a new URL for the calculations that were previously available on a Geocities site? I know that they'd be a bit dated now, but I'd still like to see them.


1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A guy who is now making 85K with 7 years in software development wants to do MBA.

So he is forfeiting
1. 85K + 85K
2. 7 years experience does not count if he swithces to IB/MC
3. 150K MBA expense
4. Two years of family expenses (he has a 8 month old)

After all this he gets a job that pays him 115K.

Do you think he is a mad mad guy to be even thinking about it?

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the fantastic podcast series, Knowledge @ Wharton, for FREE on iTunes. They have amazing lectures from the Wharton faculty, and its free!"

I used to subscribe to the Wharton podcasts. They are boring and mundane. Trying too hard to "sell" themselves, duplicating an NPR-like vibe.

BETTER podcast to subscribe to is the Stanford eCorner "Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders" available via iTunes. Video available at the Stanford website with power point. Also for free

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Mica said...

Christian -
Are you still out there? If so, I would love to touch base and hear how things are going in 2011 for you. I'm especially interested in debt, as i'm wrapping up a series of articles on MBAs and debt. Drop me a line at mica_poetsandquants@yahoo.comm
All the best, Mica

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Hey Christian. I'm sorry to bother you but I read your blog post back in 2008 and I'm really struggling on what I should pursue in college. Im going to be a sophomore at Georgetown University and I was wondering what your thoughts are on finance. It seems that's where everyone's going theses days. Please email me:

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Pierre-Luc Soucy said...

For those looking for the old spreadsheet, previously hosted on Geocities - you can view it on the Internet Archive:

5:52 PM  
Blogger Karun said...

Hi Christian,

Interesting article..I am in debate on what Master degree I should pursue..Drop me a and I will provide you with more details.


8:09 PM  
Blogger harini said...

Hi Christian,

I am in the dilemma you mentioned in your blog. To do or not to do an MBA.

I really need help and have no one to turn to about this topic. Can you please send a test mail to, I will fill you in with my details.

It would be great if you can hear me and send some advise.


8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MBA's are just degree's to show u are in safer side for the future (lol nice car, good wife, beautiful baby and white collar slave). it just gives u regular income as any govt employee. you still work under somebody to make there money grow by 200% while ur pay packet increase just by 2%(invest banker).it is of no use. A guy from engg background with better analytical ability and common sense and brought up from village will take higher risks and handle cutthroat competition.Business at higher level does not require MBA, it involves friendship with political leaders, huge sums of money and crime.

2:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm graduating in film television n radio studies n I want to do MBA to broaden my chances of getting a job, do u think I'll even get into any MBA school?

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Avi Singh said...

Christian, what are your thoughts of online programs? For someone who just wants to understand the framework that surrounds us all a bit better?

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can pursue a successful career with an MBA degree because it gives you a broad range of business and management skills that can be applied to different industries.
Career with an MBA

11:25 PM  
Blogger Abhishek Rana said...

An Executive MBA, or EMBA, is a graduate college student student stage organization. An Executive MBA program is a lot like a regular MBA program. A big difference is that an Executive MBA program is mainly designed to notify working professionals, managers, entrepreneurs, and other organization management.

Industrial Engineering the department of engineering that provides with the growth and management of methods which include people and elements and the Execuitve MBA degree programs.

4:34 AM  
Anonymous Online MBA said...

I think online mba program is a better option for those students and working professionals who want to do an mba program through distance learning. so thanks to share a informative information.

3:34 AM  
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5:15 AM  
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5:17 AM  
Anonymous Emba Dallas said...

Check out the Executive MBA Austin selections for those that have a lot of experience and do not need to pursue an MBA.

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8:53 AM  
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