Friday, February 03, 2006

MBA after all this time?

Here I am about 15 years after I graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Architecture. Since then, I've pursued my Architectural career, got licensed, and have been somewhat successful. I've had the opportunity to work on a large variety of projects throughout the US and Europe; however, I'm quickly reaching the point where there is only so much I can do. The next step is for more responsibility and management, but Architects don't learn that. Sure, we take a stupid "Professional Practice" course in college, but it doesn't reflect reality.

I've talked with several people and it's pretty much split 50/50 with half thinking that the MBA can be beneficial, and the other half thinking that it's a waste of time.

Pros: You don't repeat the mistakes that others in management positions make since you learn standard business practices while earning your MBA. You get to meet others outside your profession who not only can develop into lifelong friendships, but future clients as well. You gain perspective outside Architecture that you would never learn just working. Student loans are deferred until 6 months after you graduate. You are more marketable and can earn a higher salary if you have the MBA than if you don't.

Cons: Can take up a lot of time, especially since Architects don't have much of any. You might be required to learn nasty subjects such as accounting and business law which is totally unrelated to the neat pictures we like to look at. You end up with a large amount of debt, and it is not guaranteed that the firm you're with truly appreciates MBA degrees. Many Architects feel that you learn the business better by "learning the ropes" and doing it yourself rather than have formal training.

I have been contemplating getting an MBA degree for a few years now. I've gone to the MBA Forums which was overwhelming with all of the many colleges there from University of Chicago to University of Phoenix. I've gone to a few private information sessions that the individual college offer and I still end up with the same questions:

Are those ratings really a true indicator of how good that school is?

How much will this set me back financially?

Will I really get out of it what I put into it?

How much emphasis will my B. Arch degree have in getting admitted to MBA School? It has been 15 years, but my grades weren't the best.

How difficult is the GMAT? I'm not an accountant or marketing major, so how would I best prepare for it?

This will be the log of my journey not only to make the decision of getting an MBA, but what I will do afterward. Ultimately, I need to decide what the next steps in my life are.

Regards, Jen.

25 Comments:

Blogger qzoink said...

Jen,

Are those ratings really a true indicator of how good that school is?

The ratings are definitely relevant and a good indicator of the strengths of a school. If a school has consistently been rated good by 5 different sources, then it must have something in it. But ratings are a general and holistic view. You should also look from your perspective - what are you specifcally looking for from an mba and if the school will provide you with that?

How much will this set me back financially?

Financially, if you go full time, you will lose your current income, and on top of that, you will incur the school expenses, my guess is 100K, but you can get exact numbers from the school websites. Of course, you can recoup a tiny part of it through internships.

Will I really get out of it what I put into it?

If an MBA can actually help you in your long term career goals, then you will get out of it what you put into it.

How much emphasis will my B. Arch degree have in getting admitted to MBA School? It has been 15 years, but my grades weren't the best.

Grades usually are important because they indicate how well you'd be able to handle the rigorous MBA curriculum. But in your case, it was 15 years ago and I personally feel they won't carry a lot of weight. You can offset them by getting a good GMAT and talking about professional certifications, licenses etc.

How difficult is the GMAT? I'm not an accountant or marketing major, so how would I best prepare for it?

Hahaha, accountants and marketing majors don't have any edge over others in the GMAT. The GMAT tests quantitative, analytical and verbal skills, it does not assume prior knowledge of anything. I'm sure you have those skills as an architect. All you need to do is apply them to the kind of questions asked on the GMAT!

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Blogger mm said...

Hey
I was just curious, if you really ended up doing the mba as you were contemplating in your blog. I m also in a similar situation, ofcourse I dont have as much experience as you have... (3 years)
I wish to get into the real estate development side but am not sure if MBA is the way to go or if I should try to shift to a job with a developer and take it from there....
utterly confused and would really appreciate an honest opinion....

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1:34 PM  
Blogger annick said...

honest answer form somebody in a similar situation (except with 10 years of experience). What I would recommand is what I am thinking of doing myself: shift to the developer side ... give it a year or so, you like it and think an MBA would give you an extra advantage: go for it. Especially since I assume that you are still in your 20s (3 years of experience), and still have some time ...

1:45 AM  
Blogger architect said...

i am an architect (B.Arch)with 8 years of work experience.I want to study further for better career prospects. will an MBA Degree help? if yes please suggest some good schools around Delhi.Also open for studying abroad...
how will doing MBA help my career?

10:12 PM  
Blogger charlielee said...

have you made a decision? i'm in the same boat.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Ammar Jarrar said...

Hi Jen..
I'm an architect with 1 year experience only, once I graduated, I joind the MBA program in New York Institute of Technology NYIT in branch of Jordan, and I'll obtain it end the end of this summer. I didn't lose my current income because I have working and studying in same time. The lectures are from 6:00-9:00pm here.
I joined this program for three reasons: First to combine architecture with management and give efficiency to my job according to utilizing of time, scheduled plans and reasources for effictive arch. plans and my arch. environment.
Second, to be able to manage my future own business. Third, to achive a well social and career position.
the nearest course to my major was "Operation Management (OM)"

1:40 PM  
Blogger sejal said...

Jen,

I just came across this blog. Just curious, did you end up getting an MBA?

1:20 PM  
Blogger Joseph said...

Did you end up enrolling in a MBA program? If so what type? Full time, online, or part time?

9:53 PM  
Blogger brett said...

This is a great post. I just had one of the ‘Doh!’ moments and ran back to correct my own site before publishing my comment. You see my own comment form did not match what I’m about to advice. I get less comment than you, so never noticed any problem. I’ve changed it now anyway so here goes.


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10:15 PM  
Blogger chomie3 said...

Hey! I am in the same boat as you were. I graduated 3 years ago. After my ARE's, I am contemplating doing an MBA. My goal is to be a developer Architect.

What's up with your journey thus far? Any follow-up blog posts?

5:42 PM  
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Blogger siren_jean said...

hey I am a fifth year student of architecture..just getting done with my thesis.. is mba really beneficial? i was thinking somewhat along the lines of a masters in urban planning...what would you suggest?

11:35 AM  
Blogger Terry and Amy Wilson said...

Wow, I wondered if any Architects out there were thinking about this. My friend, also an architect, got his MBA right after architecture school. His advice was that I don't need it. However, he just got a job with the AIA in DC and I wonder if that wasn't something on his resume that helped his chances. I'm not sure.

Either way, in my case, I went a non-traditional career (residential) and with the housing market...well, and staying home with kids since 2008, my chances of going back to a firm & working is slim. So, I'm thinking a shift in career. I did see Penn State has a Masters in Project Management. Maybe that is more applicable, but it's very expensive as opposed to going back to my alma mater and getting an MBA. I'm not deadset on anything yet, but have my application in the works.

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Blogger lizbeth said...

Jemm..
I just came across this blog....5 yrs later....Please let me know what you did. My husband is on the same situation..but he has 30 yrs experience.......

7:56 AM  
Blogger Angelina Pinto said...

Hi Jen,
I just stumbled across your blog, and I'm really curious how things have turned out and what you learned! I am in the same situation you were in, and trying to do as much research as I can...
Hope to hear from you,
Angelina

5:16 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

I am currently receiving my MBA at Vanderbilt with an undergraduate degree in architecture/design. I have found it incredibly worthwhile as architecture firms are wowed by my experience. If you're up for the challenge - and the new adventure - it is well worth the time and money. It's up to you though. You can do well without it, but it opens a lot of management doors if you're willing to invest in yourself.

2:59 PM  
Blogger appi fizz said...

can nyne tell me dt hw is career in architecture ??
is it requires 2 much imagination?hw mch time it takes to get a good career after b.arch?is it a busy career?

12:30 PM  

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