*Hello everyone! I’m happy to introduce TheEngineerMBA, who will be a recurring guest writer on GrantMeAdmission. The hope is that the blog will appeal to a larger reader base since TheEngineerMBA has a different background, is only applying to one common R1 school, and has different plans for their future. The vision is still the same: Get a top MBA and help others along the way! Enjoy!
Title: Why Do I Want to Get an MBA if I am an Engineer?
In the opening post to my path to an MBA I will tackle a question that I have gotten many times, and often still struggle with.
Over the course of my relatively short career (4 years out of grad school), I have had the fantastic opportunity to work for a Fortune 100 company in the capacity of an embedded software developer. It is admittedly a sweet gig, working on low-level software for the latest and greatest devices in mobile technology. I generally have a flexible schedule, am compensated very well, and have been recognized by my organization by being afforded leadership opportunities. I believe that many other people in my situation would be very content to continue advancing in the same capacity I have.
Why would I consider disrupting my career to go to business school for 2 years?
I think that the answer to this lies deeply in where one’s goals, aspirations, and ultimately desired impact lie.
An MBA from a top program is much more than just the pure academic learning. There is the set of elite and diverse minds that are also attracted to the school from which to learn from and bond with. The brand-name recognition and cachet of the school opens up opportunities and a professional network previously unavailable. And then yes, there is the physical education in business that, while may be possible to gain from individual learning, is enhanced by the world-class faculty and resources.
In tech, there is a lot of space beyond pure engineering where people who have strong technical foundations can bring a substantial amount to the table. For instance: product development, traditional technical leadership, program management, entrepreneurship, and technical strategy development are some of the areas where leaders with an engineering mindset can bring fantastic value.
I have known since undergrad that I would not be a pure coder forever. My aspiration is to lead disruptive technologies that affect how we interact and communicate. If possible, I would like to be involved identifying markets, designing the solution, and coordinating with customers. At the end of my career, I would love to find myself in a CTO position at a tech corporation leading strategic vision.
Can’t I do that without getting an MBA?
Sure, I think it’s technically possible.
It may happen by the end of my natural career if I stay in engineering at a major corporation. That is a long process however, and there are many rungs to climb.
In the software field at least, startups are all the rage – and to me represent somewhat of a renaissance in the tech world. They fuel the most dynamic change in my opinion, with nimble large corporations either following suite or snapping them up. Left and right are stories of some 24 year old kid who dropped out of school and founded a multi-million dollar messaging app company selling user data overnight.
Yes, this happens. Perhaps I could do something similar, or join a startup in progress. But just like in any cultural movement, I think those grand success stories are the unicorns – the norm is that the majority of the startup scene represent the starving artists of the world. It would be a big risk in itself, and unless I personally found a company (or with partners), I do not see anyone hiring me in a position outside of pure engineering.
Engineering is the bulk of my resume, after all.
How about the opportunity cost?
The cost of an MBA is high, especially considering the costs. I have considered them, I definitely know.
The reality is that as an engineer, my salary is already around where average salaries begin for recent grads from top institutions. That’s substantial and certainly makes me pause when contemplating it. It reinforces the notion that I need to know that this is for me, beyond the money aspect.
Typical estimates for total opportunity cost – that is the physical cost of the education+incidentals AND your lost salary – are in the $200 – $250K range. For me, I believe the cost to actually be much higher.
This is a BIG factor in my choice to pursue the degree. It definitely has me second guessing myself, and wondering if another path would be better to reach my goals.
To be certain, I WILL be trying my hardest to apply for every merit-based fellowship and scholarship available at every school I apply to. Hopefully I will be fortunate enough to receive a few. If I do not, I will honestly have some difficult decisions to make, but I will share those when the time comes.
So, which schools?
The schools, the exciting part. I am currently applying to Round 1 of the following schools for potential entry in Fall 2015:
- Harvard (HBS)
- Stanford (GSB)
- MIT (Sloan)
- Duke (Fuqua)
- UC Berkeley (Haas)
- UT Austin (Mccombs)
It is my intent to chronicle my progress through the application process, what helped me on the GMAT, my thoughts on schools, and my final decisions to attend down the line.
Deadlines are coming up, and I need to get back on my application essays!
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Other Posts you may be interested in:
- Recommendations . . . and Work.
- I am Changing My School Selection
- The Method Behind the Madness: How I Selected Schools