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5 Signs You Are Ready for an MBA

You’re in a rut at work. Day after day it’s the same. No end in sight to the continuous flow of spirit-breaking, aggravating, and monotonous work processing paperwork, dealing with unrelenting clients, reconciling trades, and updating the same monthly P&L report over and over again. I can run this place. I’m smarter than my boss. You know you’re destined for more, but is it time to jump ship? Is it time to go back to school and get your MBA? Here are five thoughts to help you determine if this is the year to do it.

Are you ready to get your MBA? (Photo: iStockphoto)

You’ve been out of school working for at least five years
With the exception of a very few select undergraduates, business schools look for candidates with five years of experience at minimum. Unless you started your own venture and experienced profound success, don’t expect admission to a top school unless you’ve been working for a while.

You are operating at half of your capacity
Like I said, you are in a rut. Everything you do at work is the same. You can do more, but there isn’t more to do. You are in a junior-level role with limited professional and monetary upside. I don’t need to go into any more detail here. If you know your talent is being wasted, it’s definitely time to go back to graduate school and come out getting PAID.

Everyone immediately above you has an MBA
Or at least it seems like it, right? If you have been promoted to a level where the next step would come quicker with an MBA, it might be time to go. A client of mine who worked for one of the bulge bracket banks learned that straight-through Associates (no MBA) needed almost twice as much time to reach the Executive Director level, a shocking difference to my client of seven years! Associates without an MBA also made significantly less money than those with an MBA, regardless of tenure. If you don’t want to be underpriced for doing the same work, and don’t want to be an associate for seven years, start studying for the GMAT.

You don’t have the network to move laterally as quickly as you’d like
If you don’t already know, realize that the value of an MBA lies in the new people and friends you will gain from going through the most intense, two-year cocktail party of your life. The connections made at business school, due to the self-selecting nature of the MBA student population, can lead to lifelong friends and future contacts in companies you might want to apply to at some point. Why is it that your friend with the MBA can find a new and great job so quickly? It’s because his friend from b-school runs a key division of that company he’s targeting and can recommend him for the position. If you don’t have this, maybe it’s time to consider it’s time for you to go.

You used to be the over-achiever, and now you’re de-motivated and down
The worst thing I’ve seen happen to my clients is the way working in the wrong job can literally change them. I had a client who used to be so positive and energetic turn into a mindless Debbie Downer after being stuck in a career she didn’t want anymore. If you used to be the straight-A student who embraced challenges and generally loved life but no longer approach your job (and life) this way, it is time to go back to school and re-discover your passion.

Clearly, going back to school for your MBA requires a huge personal and financial commitment ($200K, plus the opportunity cost) and you should carefully consider the pros and cons of the schools on your radar. Be ambitious and realistic. You and you alone are responsible for your career, especially if you are at a crossroads and in dire need for a change.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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