Is MBA really useful in the work place?

After writing so many posts questioning the value of an MBA, I figured I should write something about whether or not I find my MBA useful at work. The short answer – YES, the bigger question – is it worth $120k in loans? I don’t know yet, definitely not if you want to start your own company.

Firstly, you get more responsibilities just because you are an “MBA.” This is not fair to others, but the ground reality is that your boss trusts you more if you have an MBA. Of course, you will eventually have to deliver and show results. Having an MBA definitely gives you an edge.

Secondly, MBAs are better at dealing with difficult situations and managing people. I spoke with so many people during my job search and I could tell just by talking to someone whether or not they were an MBA. MBAs were more professional, asked better questions, and provided better information. I guess they had done enough networking themselves to understand what a student is looking for. This is not to say non MBAs weren’t helpful, but I had to be a little more direct with them. For example, if I am looking to get my resume forwarded, I will never directly ask an MBA to do that. I will talk about my interest in the company and the MBA will automatically understand my intention. With non-MBAs I had to be direct – “Would you mind connecting me with someone or forwarding my resume?”

Lastly, MBAs are much better at managing teams. May it be smaller things like leading a meeting or bigger things like dealing with a difficult employee, I consistently saw that MBAs were better equipped to handle these situations.

Please note that I am not saying that *only* MBAs can handle these things, I am saying that MBAs are better equipped to handle such situations. The question you need to ask is whether a $1200/month loan payment for 10 years is really worth this training? Unfortunately, only you can answer this question for you.

My list of interviews

I do not want to give you a strategy and not show you the results. Here are the companies I got calls from:

Next Jump - got an offer and accepted.
PCH - got an offer did not accept

I spoke with many other companies and made many contacts throughout the process.

Using LinkedIn for your job search ***IMP***

I will share my job search strategy that worked for me. This strategy applies to off campus search.

1. Make a solid LinkedIn profile. Fill the summary with keywords. HR people don't understand S*** about things. They are told to look for candidates with X, Y and Z skills. So make sure your resume and your LinkedIn profile has these X Y and Z keywords.

2. Get at least one recommendation from each job (very important). Try to get a total of 4.

3. Profile pic - include a pic in your profile. Let people see your personality.

4. Add some spice to your profile - I added my blog and my reading list. Almost all interviews asked me about at least one of the two. You will hit a jackpot if you are reading a book that the interviewer likes or if you blogged about something s/he is interested in:)

5. Join groups - join groups of your industry. For example, I joined groups like Internet Product Mgt, Silicon Valley Meetup, etc. Join all HR groups. This will put all HR people in your group.

6. Your profile should have a theme. If I read it, I should be able to tell what industry and function you are interested in.

7. Start contacting people on LI. Let us say you found a job in company ABC. Look for people in ABC and if possible for people in the department you are looking for work for. Send them messages.

8. How to write messages. Do NOT ask for a job. Your messages should be really short. Tell them you are interested learning more about ABC and that job position. And that you want to have a short phone conversation with them. Thank them for your time. NOT more than 5 lines. You will be surprised how well it works.

9. The phone conversation - start by thanking them for your time, then "tell them about yourself" ask about the culture, what they like most, and the last Q should be if they can help you with the job. MOST people will say fwd me your resume. There you go you hve hit gold.

10. Repeat till you get a job :)

My thoughts on MBA 6 months after graduation and a job in hand

A lot of my posts earlier had been about how useless an MBA is. I still have doubts on whether or not its worth $100k+ of debt, but I will say that its not totally useless.

In the past 6 months, I have spoken to a LOT of people at different companies as part of my job search. I consistently saw that MBAs were easier to net with. They understood that I was looking for jobs and got to the topic right away. It was a little difficult with engineers, they just did not get the concept of networking. Many were like, "Why don't you talk to the HR about this?" After a few calls I decided to just ask for a recommendation from them. Some said yes, some said no (which is fair because they didn't know me).

I felt that MBAs were better talkers, they could address their issues and concerns about my application in a more clear and professional manner. They were better networked at the company. MBAs really understood the business side of things. I had to explain ROI to a few engineers, man it was the worst experience ever.

I just want to say that I am NOT suggesting that engineers (I am one myself) are not smart, am just saying that MBAs are better positioned to handle the business side of things.

So overall, I will say that MBA has some value, and definitely a lot if you are on a scholarship and do not plan to start a business. If you want to start a business, do NOT get an MBA. Not that it won't help, its just that your time and money are better spent on your business.

Now as far as an MBA being worth $100k+ in debt.... I don't know the answer to that question... yet.

The key is know what you want from your MBA. Don't just take classes and get good grades to get a consulting job. Focus on *learning*.

I am employed!!

I am happy to write that I am employed (finally). I got a job offer from Next Jump in NYC. It is an online rewards/loyalty programs company.

So what got me this job offer?

1. Luck - Yes, I will be the first to admit luck played a big role. One day I was sitting with a few friends complaining about graduating without a job. A friend of mine, Vivek, suggested I attend the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in NYC. I was like alright why not. I attended the conference and met a few people there. One of my friends I met here recommended me to Next Jump and the rest is history. I should say that these friends I had made were not for networking purposes, which is why I am calling it luck. We just happened to be on the same volunteer team and ended up talking.

2. My Blog - I am a big fan of blogging. This blog (TCM) helped me get my summer internships. Both my employers said I got their attention because of this blog. Getting back to NxJ - After a few months of the NYC conference, I had an interview in SFO and wrote about it on my blog. One of my friends from the conference read the blog and told me she was in SFO as well. So next time I was in SFO we met and talked about my job search, and she recommended me to NxJ.

3. MBA - Yes, after all the crap I have written about MBA, it was helpful in getting this job (another post on MBA useful(less)ness soon). They were looking MBAs with a technical and entrepreneurial background. I fit the role pretty well. Their interview process was very different. It was on a Saturday from 10am - 7pm. I had one leadership presentation (individual), 3 interviews, a networking lunch, and a team presentation. There was a lot of public speaking involved. And I thank my professor Tim Flood for that awesome communications class. I aced my presentations, and interviews went well too.

So take aways from this experience - networking is important for off campus job search, do something different like blogging, good public speaking always helps, and pray for a little luck.

Job Search: Strategies I wish I knew before starting my MBA

My job search began in April/May and is still going on. Here are a few things that worked for me and a few things that didn't. Hopefully they can help you with your internship/job search as well.

What worked:

1. A different resume format. Most top schools have a resume format they want you to use, and you should use it for all on campus search. However, I did not really like that format and always thought that if a recruiter gets sooo many resumes with the same format you are just losing your chance of standing out. I decided to go with a different format for all my off campus search. I got much better response after I switched the format to a one that was more aesthetic.

2. LinkedIn. I cannot emphasize enough the important of this website. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT resource you have available. I would say even more important that your school's career website. The first thing you need to do is to make a profile that is professional and get some recommendations. I got so many profile views after I updated my profile and got recommendations. Upload a professional (but not geeky) picture of yours and add as many people as possible. Your linkedin profile should tell a consistent story. For example, if you are interested in product management, join prod mgt related groups on linkedin, your previous job titles and job desc should be prod mgt like. You will miss out on a few opportunities that are not prod mgt, but trust me this way you will get better leads.

3. Cold Calling. I looked up people on LinkedIn and started emailing them. I used a simple 3 line email - Hey I am a recent grad interested in XX position at XX company. I wanted to speak with your regarding this opportunity... thank you appreciate your time kinda ending. Thats it!! It worked wonders. I got so many calls I had to increase my cell phone plan.

4. Do something different. If you are are looking for jobs in the tech industry, don't be afraid to do something that's different and unconventional. I started a blog Most people are like no thats nor professional or whatever. The truth is I get so many views because of this blog, I have also received emails from HR people saying they liked my blog. Its a good way to be different. A blog might not be the answer to your problems, but try to find something that is different and creative. I am not sure if this would work for ibanking or consulting. You might want to talk to those people before doing something like this.

5. Location. If you are a tech person - SFO is the place to be. Most people won't even look at a resume if it has an out of area address. For finance its NYC, for oil and gas Houston. Find your location and look for schools there. The reason they don't look outside is cuz there cities are very big and have plenty of talent. Why would they hire someone and pay them for relocation when they have someone local available?

I will post later about the problems I am facing. Hope this helps. Keep these things in mind when choosing your school as well.

My interviews... so far...

I figured it is a good time to share my job search progress. I graduated in May and basically started my job search in May as well. Ih have been on the market for about three months have am really happy with the progress. No offers yet, but lots of interviews. Here's the list of companies: -

Amazon - reject after 1st round.
eBay - reject after 2nd round.
Dell - waiting to hear after 1st round - most probably a reject. - reject after 1st round. These guys were a bit weird... they interviewed me for a marketing position and half way through the interview they were like we are actually looking for a general manager, the job description was wrong. I was so mad because all my answers were marketing oriented. - the company decided to close the position. I had 2 rounds with them and they had invited me for a 3rd round.
ReputationDefender - Reject after 5 rounds.
Teachscape - waiting to hear from them after 5 rounds.
Rackscape - 2 rounds and waiting to hear from them.

And there were a few more companies...

Most of these companies were on the West Coast... so if you looking for a job in a tech company... WC is the place to be!