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There are many opinions about the best time to pursue an MBA. Many students want to complete their higher education right after undergrad because it seems easier. However, some education experts say an MBA isn’t valuable without several years of work experience.
The truth is that it depends. Every situation is different, and sometimes, pursuing an MBA right after college is the best move. It all depends on your career goals, finances, and the specific position you’re interested in. Here are five things you should avoid when pursuing an MBA right after college.
- Consider Your Destination
You shouldn’t pursue an MBA without understanding how it will impact your career. In many industries, having an MBA can help you climb the corporate ladder faster. However, it can also over-qualify you for the job you want. Before you sign up for a program, talk to industry experts to find out how an MBA could impact your career.
Getting an MBA shouldn’t be your goal. Instead, it should be one step in your plan to get the position you want. You might want to reconsider whether this degree is worth the cost if you can’t clearly see how an MBA will help you get your dream job. The only way to discover whether an MBA will help you is by choosing a clear destination.
- Focus on Soft Skills
An MBA will give you an overview of your industry so you’re better equipped to work in a leadership position. However, you’ll also need many soft skills to be successful. For example, good communication skills like presenting, negotiation and diplomacy are invaluable for being an effective leader.
Take every opportunity you can to improve these skills while getting your MBA. Volunteer work, job experience, and leadership roles at school are all great opportunities for you to challenge yourself and focus on self-development. Soft skills are challenging to teach but incredibly important for productivity and positive company culture.
- Plan for the Debt
MBAs can cost as much as $100,000-$200,000 to complete a two-year program. Sometimes, the company you work for will fund your education as an investment in its future. However, paying for this sum out-of-pocket is a serious thing. Don’t sign up for this much debt unless you have a plan for paying it off.
Racking up $100,000 in debt will only increase the pressure you feel if you’re unsure about your next career move. Crunch the numbers on the salary you’re aiming for to see how quickly you’ll be able to repay your student loans. You could also consider applying for sponsorships or scholarships.
- Clarify Your Goals
Pursuing an MBA is not something you do when uncertain of your future career plans. You don’t have to know exactly where you’re going to work, but you should have a plan for where to apply after you graduate. An MBA can increase your chance of getting hired and help you advance more quickly in some situations.
However, other high-paying roles don’t require an MBA at all. Many people who complete this degree plan are looking to level up after working in a lower position for several years. Others use an MBA degree to pivot and change industries. Make sure you clarify your goals before committing to a program.
- Gain Work Experience
It’s a good idea to get some work experience if pursuing an MBA right out of college. The best managers and business leaders can understand and sympathize with employees who work below them on the corporate ladder. Leadership isn’t about being in charge — it’s about shouldering responsibility and putting others’ needs before your own.
You can start practicing leadership skills now by putting in some hard work yourself. Try to get a job that will challenge you and help you develop any skills you struggle with. Many jobs can push you to practice public speaking, organization, and management skills. Find a role that directly applies to your dream career.
There are several pitfalls you should try to avoid when pursuing an MBA right after college. This isn’t a degree track to choose if you’re unsure of your destination — at $100,000 in debt, the costs are too high. Think through this decision and do the research to decide if the investment will be worth it.
In the right circumstances, getting your MBA now could give you an advantage when you apply for a management role. However, don’t forget the value of work experience and soft skills. The more you’re willing to learn, the better prepared you’ll be for the job market after graduation.