10 career decisions that make more sense than an MBA

10 career decisions that make more sense than an MBA

Friday May 13, 2016,

6 min Read

Five years ago, the society evaluated your “market value” solely based on your grades, college, and the number of degrees you owned.

Thankfully, through the influence of digital age, these stereotypes are slowly finding their exit route. Today, your grades don’t matter as much as they used to and if you’re talented, you can find yourself an amazing job even with basic qualifications. Those looking to take their careers to the next level often find themselves considering the pros and cons of taking up an MBA.


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For most of us, an MBA programme would either be to increase our business acumen or simply because we need that feather in our cap to show the world.

Let's run some quick numbers

The cost of your MBA programme abroad would range anywhere between Rs 40 and 70 lakh, whereas an Indian MBA will cost somewhere between Rs 7.5 and 25 lakh. In India, if you happen to do an internship or a job that roughly pays around 25,000 per month, and your MBA fees happen to be Rs 15 lakh; you’ll still take five years to recover the money spent on your education. Not to mention the living expenses, and other miscellaneous costs. Add two more years, maybe? In other words, MBA seems like a dicey choice. Of course, you will earn more in the future and definitely learn a lot but what are the stakes?

With these points in mind, here are a few career choices that cost less than an MBA but will probably do more to advance your career:

Start your own business.

There’s no better feeling in this world than being your own boss. Starting your own business would not only boast your moral, but will also help you gain a lot of experience. This is the best option for a midcareer turbocharge. The worst case scenario would be that you’ll end up shutting it down, but you’ll still gain more credibility and it will help you focus in the areas of business management you need improvement.

Join a startup

You get to experience everything at one go in a startup. From handling back end to front end to marketing and promotion, you would get to do it all. You are directly responsible in contributing to the company's growth. Entrepreneurs are some of the best people to learn from. People who work in a startup have a very different mental and professional frame of mind. They are defined by their innovative and original way of addressing ideas. Not only will you gain more knowledge, you will also learn the key aspects of team management.

Home-tutor yourself

An MBA requires you to cover a variety of topics, whether you like it or not. On the other hand, by tutoring yourself, you are free to work on the areas which cater to your interests. You could structure your curriculum on the basis of your requirements and cover a wide variety of business topics. Strategy and marketing, industry-specific lectures, leadership, and public speaking are a few basic attributes that must be learnt in order to have a secure future.

Make a plan for yourself and execute it

A solid life plan will guide you in going forward. Your plan must include a mission, a to-do list, possible business or job options (with a backup plan each) and an execution time frame. Whatever you wish to do, you must do some research and homework first. Assess the market, see the scope, tap your potential and jump in.

Write a book:

You don’t necessarily have to write a best seller! Just pen down your life story or your interests in a book. Write, publish, and promote the book yourself and focus on the journey more than the outcome. A published book acts as the most effective business card that you could own. Also, you could send the book as a gift to clients. It would definitely open more doors than having an MBA after your name.

Freelance to explore your skills

Freelancing is basically working for yourself without having any company or boss. You choose your own timings and your own rates. It is the best way to earn some money while you’re studying or doing a job or even having freelancing as a career option. You can explore some useful skills like coding, translating, website development, accounting, writing, designing, etc. You can start off with whatever basic skills you have.

Pursue a certification course

There are various certifications available in India and aboard, which could be highly relevant to your business career. Pursuing an MA or MS instead of an MBA, could also be a great idea since it’ll provide a greater niche in the subject of your choice. For example, you could pursue an MA in organiational leadership or an MA in entrepreneurship. These master’s programmes generally add a direct and a more meaningful connection to venture capitalists or small business incubators.

Volunteer for that NGO/cause you always wanted:

Volunteering makes you feel good and also helps you learn about other people. It will give you experience, exposure, and definitely change you as a person. You will get a chance to connect with more like-minded people and in return, it will have a positive impact on your growth. It will also give you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills.


Apply for fellowships programmes:

Fellowship Programmes help you understand the realities of our country. It makes you feel more connected to the rural and urban India and no better feeling than doing something to make it better, right? It will give you an experience of a lifetime. They are specifically structured to provide work experiences, you will take on a great deal of responsibility very quickly. LAMP, PMRDF, Gandhi and Teach For India are some of the programmes that you could apply for.

Learn a new language:

Learning a new language is not only exciting but extremely beneficial. You can learn a foreign language or even a regional Indian language by either attending classes or online coaching. Be it at whatever age, being bilingual certainly has its own perks especially in today's society. It adds that competitive edge when you are hunting for jobs, or managing your current employment. You become smarter and your creativity almost doubles.

An MBA could be a great professional tool if you know exactly what you want to do with it. I would suggest that you be proactive and study practical alternative development programmes rather than going for the text-book knowledge.

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer,  

says Nolan Bushnell, an entrepreneur.