In this article, I breakdown the difficult decision of deciding between a job, an MS, and an MBA, which is a major struggle for both third and final year IIT students. But of your reasons are clearly thought out, then the decision becomes a lot easier.
March 16, 2017
The biggest dilemma in a final year engineering student’s life is the choice between accepting a job and pursuing a master’s degree. And as the graduation date draws close, the debate between a job vs. MS or a job vs. MBA only intensifies.
Some folks are lucky. Their future vision is crystal clear. They can picture their future pretty well, whether it’s in an office or a lush university in USA.
But for conflicted folks, making this decision is like walking through a twisted maze. Do I take the job? Or do I apply for an MS from a nice US uni? Maybe an MBA is my real calling?
This is a double whammy for IIT graduates as they receive a generous placement offer (on average), and the fat paycheck ultimately makes the choice much harder.
While there are many factors and personal considerations before you can choose between a job or masters, here’s a logical breakdown of steps you can take to make the decision making process much easier.
For many students at IIT, pursuing MS is a popular and logical continuation of engineering studies. Maybe you’re also a techie who dreams of completing an MS from Harvard or Stanford. So, while some of you take GATE, most IIT grads go for GRE to study MS abroad (mostly US).
Of course, MS makes sense for you if you plan on doing technical work in the near future (or your whole life). So, here are a few points to consider before you decide between a job and an MS degree from abroad:
1. You love your area of specialization, want deeper learning, and plan to build your own technology/product someday.
2. Your MS specialization has a great placement record and you can get a substantial salary which is not possible after 2 years of work.
Think that’s you? Then you should definitely go for a MS degree before thinking twice about the job offer.
Ok, this one’s tricky.
Compared to MS, an MBA course costs a bomb! What’s more, by pursuing an MBA right after graduating, you’re shifting to a managerial role as opposed to a technical one. Diving into it just for a fat salary won’t take you far. That’s why you need to ask yourself all the questions you can before driving down this road.
Think about Money
Can you draw a substantial loan for your MBA? If your finances are wrecked and that MBA debt will probably be an overload, take the job first.
Think about experience
One argument you regularly hear is that you shouldn’t break your flow of study. You should do your MBA while you’re young and still in touch with studies.
The other argument here is that you need a complete understanding of workings of an organisation to effectively learn management. During the MBA, you’ll learn to manage expectations, build teams, show leadership, solve business problems, and build networks across sectors. So it makes sense to experience these things first-hand for yourself.
Even top B-schools around the globe want you to have at least 3-4 years’ work experience before they let you in.
However, Indian premier B-schools are different. Freshers as well experienced folks both are welcome for an MBA at most of the Indian B-schools
Think about learning
There’s no doubt books, lectures, projects and internships can help you learn a lot about management. However, nothing will make you an expert like playing in the mud first.
This point actually borrows from the previous point. With experience comes a certain kind of learning that no theory or simulated environment can provide. For instance, there’s a big difference between learning to change car tires by watching someone do it as opposed to getting your hands dirty and replacing a flat tire all by yourself.
Ask your “WHY”
Finally, you need to ask yourself the real reason for choosing an MBA over a job. Are you doing it because everyone around you is going for an MBA? It happens. Like peer pressure, there are a lot of factors that don’t let us think rationally and logically. And rational decision making is exactly what you need to make the choice between taking a job or pursuing an MBA.
Here’s an exercise that can help you. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Am I choosing MBA just for the money or a career boost?
2. Why do I want either of those things? Your answer may be ‘because I want a nice life for myself’.
3. Then ask - ‘Is MBA going to give me a great, happy life? Or I can find the same satisfaction in my job right now and then go for an MBA?’
The above questionnaire will help you in cases when you're scared of FOMO (fear of missing out). But what if you really want management lessons but can’t decide if you should. I’ll illustrate two cases to help you here:
1. You need to switch from the technical field to a managerial role - maybe you think your aptitude leans toward management. You have held decision making roles during college events like tech fests and cultural fests. You loved managing things back then and really excelled at conducting such events.
2. You want to build a startup of your own. So, in addition to your technical skills, you want to learn building, managing, and coordinating teams to get the work done. You know the ability to sell and manage the business is as crucial as technological superiority of your offerings. And that’s why you want to dive headfirst into the managerial aspect of a business.
Both these cases have one thing in common. Your real reason is the driving factor for making the choice between an MBA and a job. Now, if you really feel this passionate about doing an MBA but fear about having no work-ex, fear not. Tons of folks in India crack CAT in their final year at college. And ultimately end up getting a better job or building a great business after their MBAs. As long as your drive is strong, your reasons clear, and you land in a premier B-school, your decision to opt for an MBA over a job is safe. Remember that most foreign universities accept folks with work-ex. So Indian B-schools offer the best chance if you want to do an MBA right after engineering.