Pursuing an MBA after engineering has become a popular career choice for engineers in the recent past. No wonder people scoring the most in CAT or Indians making it to Harvard and Stanford Business Schools are often engineers from IITs. As per few reports, the acceptance rate of IITs is only 1% as compared to MIT which stands at 8%.
I was once giving a talk at a college and someone asked me how did I get into career coaching and writing books after an engineering degree. To that, I replied, “Because every Indian is allowed to have a passion but she first needs to complete engineering.” Jokes apart, there are multiple good reasons why you should consider an MBA after engineering.
Why MBA after Engineering?
Every engineer, one in her lifetime, faces this dilemma – to MBA or not to MBA.
I myself pursued an MS in Computer Science first, worked on Wall Street and felt the need for an MBA eventually. This is when I knew what I wanted to get out of MBA – I wanted to get into startups. So, I headed to NYU Stern and hustled like crazy. In the end, I got what I was looking for – 2 fulltime job offers in my first summer itself. So, I decided to drop out from Stern – my purpose was solved.
So yes, I am a big proponent of an MBA in life but I put only one condition – do it ONLY when you know what you will use it for.
Now, here are some great reasons why you may consider MBA after engineering.
1. Career growth / promotions
At MNCs, it is difficult to get promoted beyond a point on your merit alone. A bling on your resume i.e. a reputed MBA degree can take you far in your professional ambitions. This is true especially for certain industries such as Management Consulting and Investment Banking that rely heavily on MBA grads.
2. Expanding your knowledge beyond technical domain
One you get out into real world after your college, you realize how little you know about interest rates, balance sheets, GDP, stock markets and so on. To follow the micro and macro economic developments and to be able to talk intelligently about it, you need to broaden your exposure. While MBA is not the only way to do it, it is a very good way of doing it.
3. Holistic understanding of business
After a bachelors and masters in engineering, I was comfortable solving equations and writing code. But I had no clue what drove stock market. The mention of balance sheet made me stare blankly. I would see the CEOs talk confidently about the business and I felt I was missing out on the fun.
The crux was that I felt my whole learning was one dimensional and while engineering gave me a great analytical foundation, I wanted to understand the practical aspects of finance and management. I did harbor ambitions of starting up someday and felt that studying business as a major could fill certain voids in my knowledge.
This is why I chose to go for MBA and got into NYU Stern.
4. Switching careers
MBA makes sense if it can help in career switch you are looking for. For example, if you are a software engineer looking to get into Finance, yes MBA will give you what you need and may be the only option you have.
5. Feeling stuck in your professional life
Many people feel stuck in their career growth in an industry that values MBA a lot. Therefore they need an MBA to move beyond a certain level. For e.g. some companies such as Big 4 Consulting or Wall Street may not consider you for executive roles unless you have an MBA.
Secondly, one may start feeling uninspired in their 30s and not fulfilled in their corporate jobs. Switching industries or roles at this stage is typically possible only through an MBA or specialized Master’s degree.
6. Getting higher salaries
Yes, want more dough and prestige? Getting that coveted MBA degree may be a perfect way of elevating yourself in the job market and competing for salaries that otherwise look out of reach. For example, average salary post MBA in USA was $116,000 in 2017.
7. Seeking leadership positions
Leadership is more than domain and subject matter expertise. Leaders need people skills, decision making prowess and ability to negotiate, strategize and maneuver their teams in tough times – these are the core skills that an MBA program teaches you. No wonder, >90% CEOs come from MBA backgrounds.
8. Personal development
Having done both MS and MBA from American Universities, I can clearly see the difference between Professors in Business Schools vs those in Engineering Schools.
B School Professors are charismatic. Their lectures are more like art performances. They reel you in, keep you engaged, intrigued and in awe. Engineering school faculty is no doubt, genius, but they lack the inter personal skills that makes the audience go ‘wow’.
If you want to improve your ‘presence’, MBA is a great transformer. I pushed myself outside every comfort zone back in my MBA days. I started speaking more, taking more chances, and became uber confident – all thanks to the MBA ecosystem.
9. Lack of other options
Some people became engineers but have no interest in pursuing a technical or administrative career. MBA is usually a good way out for such people.
10. Meeting interesting and ambitious peers
MBA eventually is about its brand and networking opportunities. How much is that worth to you is something you need to figure out. At NYU Stern, I had a working group of an Italian banker, an American lawyer, an American banker and a Chinese consultant. Such diversity and peer learning is a big selling point to top ranked MBA programs.
Let’s look at some FAQs
If you have interest in technical fields and want to be an engineer in a core technology company, MS or MTech is better. Also, you can do MBA after MS/MTech.
Absolutely, some of the most successful MBA grads are engineers by background.
Many people go for MBA right after engineering college. This is okay only if you know what stream you want to choose in your MBA. Business Schools prefer candidates with some work experience. So if you are not sure, wait and get some work experience before going for MBA.
Not necessarily but it helps.
If you are not sure, talk to a career counselor such as Scholar Strategy. Make sure you take guidance from someone who has done MBA themselves.
You need to clear the CAT test if you wish to pursue MBA in India and GRE/GMAT if you wish to pursue an MBA abroad.