As I am finishing my MBA I am constantly asked one question: Is my MBA worth the investment? This is an answer that will change for every individual. Since I have a background in Psychology I have found myself looking at this question in the perspective of others I have encountered that are pursuing an MBA or have attained their MBA.
A Check-Mark vs. Actual Skills
When I started my MBA I was working for an investment firm that was helping pay for an MBA. Most of the people that were pursuing an MBA at my company were doing so to take advantage of “free” money. The downfall is that the guy that was sitting next to me had his MBA for over five years and was still making the same amount of money as myself and wasn’t looking to go anywhere. These employees just went through the motions of higher education and finished their MBA. A lot of my colleagues would check it off their list and act like nothing happened. To me, this is a waste of money and time just so the company will pay me a little extra money that goes directly to a school and not me. I wanted my time and money to be used to better myself and my future.
In my first few classes I started to look at the experience and background of others in my class. One of my professors asked the students to introduce themselves and why they were in the program. The majority stated they wanted an MBA to get a raise or to get a better job. There were only a few of us that wanted to improve our knowledge and skill. Now I am not saying that the first group didn’t want to improve their skills as well, but motivations can determine the quality of the outcome.
Over the past two years I have found myself working with many different individuals in group projects. I am astounded at how little effort some people put into a master’s degree and expect others to carry them to the end. The thought of competing against these people after I got my degree scared me. A potential employer will not see how much work was put into an MBA and frankly they may not even care. We both will have a degree to show we accomplished the program, so what would set me apart? I wanted to be different. I wanted to show that I learned a behavior of learning that will help me find solutions to the business’ problems. The problem is that I couldn’t find a way to show that I have a newfound desire for lifelong learning. This was until I found Degreed. Degreed gave me a way to track all of my learning, not just my Degree. It allows me to show my continual learning to colleagues and will help direct me in valuable content to keep up with relevant changes and learning.
The Habit of Learning
Why does it matter to be a lifelong learner and make learning a habit? For my previous colleagues that had their MBA for 5 years and are sitting in the same role they were when they finished, your knowledge is stale. Business has changed over the last 5 years. Do you want outdated information in your business decisions? For those that get an MBA to get a pay raise or a better job, you are not going to have longing success as you missed out on a learning opportunity since you had others carry you to the end. What skills or knowledge did you gain? For those that went to learn and grow, you may not have a better job right away or an immediate pay raise, but you will be an asset to the business as you learned how to learn and how to analyze things differently.
So to answer the question “Is my MBA worth the investment?” I would say YES. I went into the program investing in my future through skills and knowledge. If I went into the degree for a check off my list or for a piece of paper, I would say no. The true value comes from your motivation and attitude in the beginning. Just remember, learning doesn’t end once you have the paper. You will find the most value in the MBA as you continue to learn and use what you learn like an MBA is structured to teach you.
You can tweet Branden @brandengbaldwin and follow him on Degreed here. Branden’s MBA is from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT. Branden enjoys spending time with his wife and children and volunteering in his community.