In this post, Queen Agboye, a second-year MBA student at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics with a background in business operations and strategy, puts forward the question, “Is An MBA Worth It?”
My decision to pursue an MBA grew out of experiencing the same frustrations that corporate directors and business managers encounter every day: the growing gap between technology and meeting clients’ demands.
Technology disrupts how consumers interact with brands and companies. Working in the private sector I found that business decisions grew more complex, trends were rapidly changing and consumers demanded speed and instant gratification. A senior colleague, who is also a mentor, saw my frustration and encouraged me to become part of the solution by earning a master’s degree. As we talked, I wondered, “Is an MBA worth it?”
Deep down, I knew my mentor was right. I had to develop new skills to be an effective leader. An MBA degree was the next step for me. I jumped right into searching for a program that would offer me the skills and knowledge I needed and provide a return on my financial investment. I realized that no matter how I looked at it, I was sure to benefit in many areas: personal growth, career advancement and professional development.
Today, I am in my final year as a full-time student at the University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics’ MBA program. During my time at UD, I’ve realized the MBA isn’t just a degree, it is a career catalyst. What you put into the MBA determines its worth.
“The beauty of the MBA degree is that you learn to speak the language of multiple business disciplines,” said Adam Fleischhacker, associate professor of operations management at the Lerner College. “Whether they’re more creative disciplines like marketing, or more technical disciplines like finance or computational disciplines like business analytics.”
The MBA coursework includes a broad spectrum of subjects: accounting, finance, statistics, economics, marketing, strategic leadership and entrepreneurship. These courses prepare me and my peers to work for financial institutions, in management positions in other fields or to be founders of startup companies.
My classes, professors and advisors challenge me to stretch my abilities in ways that push me out of my comfort zone. My classmates are professionals with a wide range of work experiences. We learn from faculty with doctoral degrees and research and industry expertise, who are working with businesses in the area and across the globe. Our class discussions are full of real-life examples that demonstrate how to make strategic choices and leadership decisions.
For some, studying business is like learning a new language. For example, having an accounting background, I thought taking ACCT 800 during my first year would be a breeze. I was wrong. MBA-level accounting courses are a lot different—they’re far less detail-oriented and more focused on overall business acumen. I was amazed at all the things I did not know.
An MBA degree may also encourage you to make unexpected choices about the next steps in your career. For example, the skills I learned from Lerner’s prerequisite courses, internships, workshops and practicum have inspired me to shift my career focus towards data sciences and a business analytics major.
Like most prospective MBA students, part of my decision to pursue an MBA was improved income prospects. A new survey from the GMAC annual report shows that MBA candidates can reap substantial financial rewards by earning their master’s degree. If financial gain is your motivation for an MBA, then the earlier you begin a degree program, the better. I spoke with one of my classmates, Frank Brookes, about his experience.
“During my first year in the workforce I weighed all of my options and deliberated heavily between going back to school for my MBA or taking the CFA exam,” said Frank Brookes, MBA Class of 2017 and financial analyst at Vanguard.
After weighing his options, Brookes decided to earn his MBA at Lerner during his first year in the workforce. Utilizing his employer’s tuition support benefits, Brookes recouped the cost of his MBA in less than a year.
“I received a 33 percent raise in my first role after graduation,” Brookes said. “In today’s competitive marketplace, a master’s degree is becoming a standard to separate yourself from the competition.”
As I mentioned, I come from a background in accounting, business operations and strategy, and am now switching into data analytics, which is a major change. To be able to fully understand and interpret the language of business and merge that with technology is like a dream come true for me, and this skill set is in heavy demand today. My MBA program at the Lerner College has given me a great opportunity to be able to bridge the gap between these two worlds.
I wondered what could get any better than earning my MBA? Through my BUEC 603 class, a class focused on effective business communication, taught in conjunction with BUEC 601, a class on emotional intelligence and critical thinking, I learned that these classes provided essential tools for my long-term success. Knowing how to communicate professionally, network and build a professional leadership brand will be useful in my future role as a business executive.
While there is always education, “the biggest value can be found in the connections you make in the program,” Brookes said, adding that he was able to leverage his personal network extensively in his career search after graduating from the Lerner College MBA program.
My overall MBA experience so far is helping me gain and share knowledge, while also empowering me to learn from others and get a better understanding of the business world. For me, getting an MBA degree and exploring a dynamic new career has been absolutely worth it.
Photography by Kim Sosin