As I finish my first half of my summer internship, someone asked me whether I think that my MBA was worth it.
“Don’t you think that it really opened doors for you?” she asked.
Honestly, I don’t think so.
As I was a non-career changer — as I was already at an industry that I loved being in a department that I liked — there was really marginal benefit in doing an MBA. For the role I wanted, my boss has asked me to wait until things settled down before really quitting. He would have been open to giving me the role I wanted, if I waited for awhile.
But at that time, I knew that if I didn’t leap at the chance, I wouldn’t really get an MBA anymore. And I’d be left with the gnawing “What if?” feeling for the rest of my life.
But to be honest, Trader was unsupportive. “You’re already in finance – why do you need an MBA?!”
My mom was unsupportive. “Bonita, to what use is an MBA if you want to have a family anyway? An MBA to tutor the children?”
My dad just didn’t care.
Economically, I was paying a sum of money for something that I already have anyway. Take for example, I could’ve done a lateral jump versus starting from the bottom as an intern today.
But I was pretty stubborn.
I insisted I needed it. It was part of my bucket list.
“No,” my mom corrected. “You want it. It’s your luxury.”
But I held my ground. I had enough savings to fully support myself for the next 16-years. So against everyone’s opinion, I did it.
Now as I’m almost done, I do ask myself, “Was it worth it?”
Honestly, it was good to get an MBA to calm that troubling feeling in my heart. It calmed down the “What if?” questions. It gave me a better and wider appreciation of the world.
But was it worth leaving 16 months from the workforce?
No, it wasn’t.
I would have preferred to work and actually be surrounded by a group of colleagues who were cream of the crop. They were, in a word, competent. In MBA, people act as if they’re going through their second high school and many of them do not treat their studies as seriously. Frustrating especially if you’re fortunate enough to be grouped with one of these freeloaders.
For networks, they were great — but it’s not as if building up your network at work was impossible. You could have easily done that in and out of your office. Hong Kong is just diverse, instead of staying inside the dorm studying most of the time.
I think I could have learned more from real life experience. My finance professor said that debt was good because it gave you more tax breaks. Any owner who seriously owns the business is scared of heavy debt. In case you cannot service them, then you lose everything. That’s why people say, there is still that diference between academics and real-life practitioners.
My colleagues were the best professors. Teachers taught concepts. Colleagues actually know whether they’re applicable or not. Because they’re actually taking part of the action.
The academics were fulfilling – I really liked learning. Information was my high.
Regardless, maybe what my colleague said was true — I could’ve done it part time.
So do I regret my MBA?
Funnily enough, no. I was so stubborn that I would’ve insisted and pouted if I didn’t get my way for an MBA.
But is it for everyone?
Think carefully before you pursue such a huge commitment. Sometimes, all you need is a break. But it doesn’t make sense to quit working altogether.
Good luck with your decisions!
And sorry for being so quiet – sleeping early and waking up early does not bode well to a sunny disposition.