MBA With Work Experience Or MBA As A Fresher? – IIM Bangalore Student’s Perspective
In the job market, work experience prior to doing an MBA is undervalued as opposed to the work experience after doing an MBA. I will give two scenarios here and compare how work experience prior to doing an MBA is heavily discounted. Consider two students who have completed their undergrad from the same college and graduated in the year 2015. Now one person went on to work for 3 years and after the hikes and promotions managed to get a salary of 10-12 lakhs in 2018, he later decides to join a B-School. Whereas his batchmate went on to do an MBA as a fresher from one of the top B-Schools and now earns a whopping 21 lakh after a year of work experience. This difference is very drastic and even if we consider an investment in management education, the breakeven point is within 2 years. Unless the person who worked for three years was unsure of doing an MBA back in 2015, he/she has worked three extra years at a lower salary than his fellow batchmate to eventually reach the same position that his friend has reached three years before!
While this is just the monetary aspect of it, I also wanted to throw some light on the non-monetary reasons for doing an MBA with work experience. Firstly, work experience definitely does help you in absorbing your management education at a greater depth. You can relate to examples from your workplace while learning a particular concept. Not just that, you also gain a lot of clarity as to which field should you choose for your specialization post an MBA. This is an extremely crucial decision as your field will stick with you for your entire life, so taking a more informed decision here will definitely help in the long run. Apart from this, there will be various subjects that you will be more familiar with due to your work experience and will grasp faster than others.
Now I will elaborate on the most important aspect: The placements. Folks with a work experience generally are held to it and the HRs try to fit them into roles that will best exploit their prior knowledge. If a person has worked in Microsoft before, then it is very likely that other Product management firms will be more interested in this person vis-à-vis say a marketing company. This sort of restricts the chances if not entirely of a person switching across roles. Of course, if you have a solid reason for the role switch then it becomes better. On the other hand, if you are a fresher, then you will be considered at the same level for all the sector opportunities. You can experiment across the entire spectrum of work roles.
These opinions are strictly on the basis of what I have observed in my first year at PGP. It can vary person to person. For one person, an MBA after work experience will be a better bet as it could give him/her the clarity on whether an MBA is right for him/her and what areas should be looked at post an MBA. For someone else, who is more clear in their head about doing an MBA as a fresher will leave them better off financially than their peers. It is a subjective decision that one needs to take by weighing all the aspects thoroughly.