Sunday, March 7, 2010

Was it Worth it?

A year and a half ago, I attended a wedding of a dear friend and randomly had a conversation with an older man who was pretty successful in his career and on the verge of retirement. To the best of my memory (and actually there were others there who can attest to the fact that this is actually accurate) the conversation went a little something like this:

Man: So what do you do?
Me: I just finished my MBA and am a marketer at a small company.
Man: Oh congratulations! Where did you get your MBA?
Me: USC.
Man: Really! Now tell me, what rank is USC business school these days? I mean, is it even worth it to go and spend money for a school that's not even in the Top Tier?
Me: (Literally LOL.) Well, USC is ranked about 21 these days, but I don't think ranking is the most important thing when you're choosing a school! And besides, people go to business school for different reasons. I was an English major in undergrad so I thought it would be a good idea for me to broaden my horizons and learn more about business!
Man: Psssshhh...English. Now that's a useless major!
Me: (Literally LOL...again.) Well, it's not so bad. It helps people with their communications and writing skills!
Man: Oh, I suppose. What did you study as an English major? I assume you read the Classics like The Iliad and The Aeneid?
Me: PUH-leeez! I translated those from Latin to English in high school! No, as an English major, you study the English writers such as Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare! But I focused a lot on women Romantic writers because I liked that the most. Oh, hey! My drink is empty! Please excuse me!

Fast forward to 2010...this weekend, I attended an online marketing lecture, given by Lorrie Thomas (if you Google her, she's the Marketing Therapist - not the accused murderer) at UC Berkeley extension, as part of my ongoing efforts to expand my horizons. Before the class we went around the room and gave brief introductions of ourselves and it turns out about 30% of the class was unemployed - I suppose a sad sign of the times. During a break, I was chatting with a few people and the conversation went something like this:

Girl #1: So you went to business school? Where did you go?
Me: USC.
Girl #2: So how's that working out for you?
Me: Ha! Apparently not that well, since I'm sitting here right now!

Anyway, since then, I've been thinking about the fact that I did indeed go to business school and really have nothing but my diploma to show for it! I took out a shitload of loans (thank goodness it was only 2 years, not 4 like medical school) and I haven't recovered even half of it! Not to mention my forgone salary from my old job and all the on-the-go job experience I would have accumulated!! I'm no financial analyst, but it doesn't take a genius to put these facts and my blog together to realize that I'm not optimizing my ROI for this particular investment!

However, when it's all said and done, right now I'm still glad I went. It was a great experience to get out of the industry I was in, work on a diverse set of projects, and in general learn more about leadership from smart people with different professional backgrounds than myself. Although I do have to say, when my little bitch of a friend, Sallie Mae, comes calling once a month, I do get pretty annoyed...but to answer some questions..."Was it worth it and is it working out for me" to have gone to business school? It's debatable...but as my career is a marathon and not a sprint, ask me again in another 10 years. :)


Rach said...

So well put. We are not fighting a battle here, this is a bloody war!

Kristy said...

I ask myself the question all the time, too. If I have a child, I'm going to assess the crap out of him/her and determine the perfect career path for him/her. And then I'm going to hook him/her up with the best job straight out of undergrad (ok, maybe a year out for soul searching/world travels). Oh, and one rule: NO GRAD/PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS!
Ok, who wants to be my kid? Any takers?

Lamer than Fresno said...

Great perspective. I think a lot of MBAs and future MBAs walk into school thinking that it's all rainbows and unicorns and they'll be handed their dream job upon graduation and everyone lives happily ever after. Pretty unrealistic considering you just took yourself out of the workforce for 2 years and half us are career switchers. And then in our case, the economy took a fat dump when we graduated.

It's okay. We're just spotting everyone else a head start before we make our millions.


Maggie Mae said...

I think you should be proud of yourself for:
1) getting IN TO graduate school,
2) COMPLETING graduate school;
3) putting up with morons who say insulting things about USC! (And that could even include me as a UCLA alum!).

It'll all pay off in the long run and you'll have the last LOL!!!

chrrrrrs said...

LOL. I used to say insulting things about USC all the time...before I went there of course!! Who knew you had to step in both sides of the equation to get some perspective!

Suser said...

Great post & I'm glad you have that perspective!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris,

Perspective from someone in his mid-30's. I don't have an MBA, but I'm a VP at an investment bank. I see A LOT of resumes with MBAs even for the entry level analyst position. Those are automatically rejected. Why? Because the feeling is that an MBA will move on to a better position, at least a mid-level position, once the job market improves.

Now, having said that, I'm actually going for a USC Executive MBA this Fall. The thing is that often times an MBA doesn't help you get a job, but it will help you move forward in your current job/career field. My goal is to move on to a principal level in my industry, and all those guys have MBAs.

chrrrrrs said...

Edward, Thanks for your comment! That's actually the reason I went for my MBA as well - to move forward in my field. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

The mere fact the author stated he "'randomly' had a conversation with an older man" illusrates the fact that he's not the best & brightest of USC graduates.