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After battling through endless assignments, exams, sleepless nights, and not to mention the havoc COVID-19 wrecked, you are finally on the way to your graduation. Of course, most of you feel the calm of the ocean – finally, you are free of the classrooms!

But then a new dilemma sets in: whether you should dive right into the job market or make your way straight to a prestigious MBA degree for better skills and paycheck? Especially in these times of uncertainty, if you should even apply for a program that may cost an arm and a leg. According to a recent article published in Forbes, the good old MBA program still rules, and the applications have increased with a whopping average of about 22.6%. So, it’s safe to say that an MBA degree is sure to open a lot of job opportunities even in such unprecedented times.

So now the question is, when is the right time to start an MBA? If you want to get into top-ranked business schools like Harvard or Wharton, you must have 2-5 years of prior work experience. The only advantage of pursuing an MBA right after your graduation is that you will not have any difficulties that others face, who enter MBA after working full-time, which is transforming from your corporate working life to being a student all over again.

If you are firmly determined to pursue an MBA right after college, here are some cons that you might face:

  • As compared to your peers, who already have the relevant work experience, you will be starting your job as a fresher and, therefore, will have to start from the low management positions. As per data revealed by US news, the average age of MBA pursuers is 27 with an average work experience of 4 years and three months.
  • Moreover, to get the most of your MBA, you need to have pre-defined career goals. If you are still scratching your head about which industries or roles will suit you the best or the ones you want to target, you probably need some time to explore options and gain some work experience for a broader perspective on MBA.

So, it is safe to say that if you are thinking of pursuing an MBA, it’s best to enroll after gaining some work experience.

And here is a list of benefits that comes with starting an MBA if you already have some work experience under your belt:

  • With great experience comes great clarity. As you get familiar with the corporate world and deal with a plethora of real-life situations at work, such as working in a team, dealing with and resolving work-related conflicts, or just simply realizing what you want in your career and what you don’t, it will become clear.
  • The kind of specialization that you choose to pursue your MBA program in, is a career-defining move. So when you enter the B-school with an added benefit of a few years of work experience, it will be easy for you to choose which MBA specialization and electives will best align with your career goals. Having already worked before will instill in you a professional and mature perspective towards management-related positions.
  • Classroom training during MBA includes theory as well as practice. While anybody can grasp theoretical concepts, it’s hard to get hold of the practical applications if you haven’t had first-hand experience of real life work-related situations. With a better understanding that you would have gained during your corporate stint, the classroom training will be a cakewalk. You will not just ace the concepts, but also have more to contribute during case study discussions, roleplay and other activities. And therefore, stay ahead of your peers.
  • Pre-MBA work experience also means that you will have better soft skills, such as communication and interpersonal skills, which are the foundation of any leadership role you aim for after completing your MBA. Companies want to hire someone who has impeccable soft skills. Without these skills and relevant work experience, you will either end up with a not-so-good package or not get very far in your career.
  • Since an MBA degree upgrades your skills, knowledge, employment potential and even your personality, the tuition fee is substantially higher as compared to other programs. But having worked before and the savings from that can help reduce the financial burden and, therefore, provides financial stability while pursuing the degree.

Summing it up

In the end, it all depends on you. If you straightaway know what you want in your career, then go ahead, appear for GMAT and get into an MBA program. But if you still find yourself contemplating over which industry to set your foot into or want better job prospects later down your career path, it’s best to enter MBA after a few years of work experience. This combination will also make you an attractive candidate for a lot of employers out there.

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