When I applied to consulting firms, I mostly did it as an advanced degree holder. This means that you apply for a position that is 2-3 years higher than the typical business analyst position that undergraduate students apply for.
In some offices of consulting companies, they have special programs for PhD holders, especially those not in economics. Sure, you enter the firm higher in the but you also need some basic knowledge on business and economics. For example, they have 3 weeks mini-MBAs for such people.
After consulting with me in the interview and then talking amongst themselves, they decided to make me an offer for the lowest position: business analyst. The reason they gave me was that, this way, I still have the door open to do an MBA 1 or 2 years down the line (paid by the firm, of course). If in the end I decided not to do it and things went well, I would be able to skip to the next level without the MBA degree, because I will be an advanced degree holder.
After the lunch I had there the other day, I am under the impression that this depends very much on the office. Apparently, in this particular one, they don’t have many PhD consultants and they thought people wouldn’t know how to handle me if I entered in a higher position that has more responsibility associated to it but I knew nothing about the business world. I think that, had this happened in another office, for example in Germany where they are very used to this kind of candidates, they would have made me an offer for the higher position.
Although in the interview I said I was open to the option of doing an MBA, now I am not so sure anymore. The thing is that it does seem very interesting, especially for someone with a pure science background, but, how many degrees should a person have? I already have two undergraduate degrees, a masters and (soon) a PhD. Is an MBA necessary after all of this?
So I started wondering, why do people do an MBA? I think the main reasons are:
- Educational. That is, to learn more about the business world,
- to get into one of the top four management consulting firms,
- to find better jobs and earn more.
In my situation the only reason that applies is the first. Which, I think, is the most important one. I wonder if the third one also applies. I mean, if I have to go job hunting again in a few years, will it make any difference having an MBA or not when I already have a masters and a PhD in science (like most PhD’s do)?
On the other hand, what keeps people from doing an MBA. I would say:
- Money. They are extremely expensive and you have to wonder, is it worth it?
- Time. Most MBAs are 2-year long programs, which is not a negligible amount of time. This is also related to the previous issue since during those two years most people are not able to work full-time.
- Geography. Top MBAs are in the US or very selected cities in Europe. One thing is to move to another country/continent for the duration of a project and another is doing it for 2 full years.
I would be sponsored by the firm, so money wouldn’t be a problem. But, what about the other two? Am I ready to give up two more years of my life studying, doing exams, living in yet another country? What will I get in return? Will I really learn things that I won’t be able to learn on the job or via mini-MBAs and other training programs? Will it make a difference in my CV next time I go job hunting?
I know there are many people out there who hold both a PhD and an MBA so I would like to hear from you: was it worth it?
Then, there is of course also this.