I was bred to think that the MBA was the prestigious requirement for a successful business career. My dad did it (at Upenn, no less!). My dad’s siblings did it. All the businesspeople in the Philippines did it. Of course I should do it as well!
Two years out of college, I decided I’d give it a shot. Studied for a standardized test, started reflecting on questions like “Why [insert school here]?” or “Trace the dotted lines to where you are today.” or “What impact do you want to make in the world and why?” and talked to people who went through their respective MBA programs.
The main question I asked: “Why did you go through your MBA program?” and uncovered 3 key themes:
- Location switch - Filipinos based in the Philippines wanted opportunities to study or work abroad
- Career switch - either from one industry to another or one role to another
- Promotions or access to more job opportunities - these were typically consultants, whose companies paid for their MBAs to then get access to the next promotion level. For certain industries, MBAs gave a massive salary bump.
In every conversation, my desire to pay $200k+ to give up 2 years of my life to an MBA exponentially dwindled.
I personally wanted to:
- Stay in tech
- Stay in the same country for the immediate future
- Start my own company (the best way to be a founder is to found a company not go to an MBA!)
If I was being honest to myself, the reasons left for taking an MBA were for the:
- Prestige - not true actually. In fact in tech, it might even be negative signal if you’re in an MBA
- Friends - which... of course I could find elsewhere!
- Fun - the most expensive fun I’ll ever have
Ultimately, I felt I’d regret going to an MBA more than I’d regret not going to one. The MBA, at that moment in my life and still today, is just not a fit for me. And I’m ok with that.
Note: It’s been a while since I actually went through this whole life dilemma but decided to just write and publish it today, in case it helps any other lost soul out there. Good luck!