Graduation day is fast approaching for business school students, which means most are asking: What’s next? What is my life going to look like after school? Or should I go back and attend more schooling? These were questions I was asking myself two years ago as my own graduation from HBS approached. Now, two years out of the program, I have some perspective, and I think it’s useful. If you are considering an MBA or other graduate level education, keep reading.Image Credit: BestReviews.com
1. Not all Harvard MBA students are raking in the dough.
While some graduates do command incredible salaries eventually, none that I am aware of made millions their first year after school.
Furthermore, in many anecdotal cases, those who choose jobs making less money than their peers were often the happiest and found their jobs most rewarding.
2. Men still make more than women in some fields, but not all.
There is an earning variance between men and women, but it’s not universal that men make more. As you can see above, while women do make less than men in most fields, they command larger wages in non-profits and HR.
3. Prepare to hop jobs.
I changed jobs less than two years after graduation. Many of us did. Some people changed for personal reasons (geographic preference or relationships), and others moved after being exposed to unexpected opportunities for learning or places they could leverage their expanding skills. Moreover, many dozens of my peers found something amazing, unexpected, and risky, and yet were comfortable making a leap into the unknown given the confidence in their future derived in large part from graduating from HBS.
4. A Harvard MBA is not a ticket to Easy Street.
Some people believe a myth that with a Harvard MBA you can start slacking and still succeed. The truth is the opposite. No matter your education, your work ethic will be the deciding factor in your success. Someone else without your academic background may feel they have something to prove, and they could be prepared to work rings around you. Putting in the work, even after a grueling education, is still required for success, as well as gaining the trust of others for increased responsibility and authority. Your MBA sends a powerful positive signal. But it does not show up in the morning and work. Only you can do that.
5. Your network is everything.
The combination of your proven abilities and your access to influential people in their fields matters. Regardless of the industry or function you enter, there is a strong chance that at some point early in your career another alum will be able to help you out in a meaningful manner. In my own case, a friend of a friend from HBS helped me secure a call with a potential client only a few months into my first job after school. Without his support this prospective client might have never spoken to me (as they had turned down calls with other sales representatives from my company for months). With this kind introduction a relationship was formed, and eventually a deal was closed, and later on this client was one of the largest revenue drivers for my entire business unit.
6. You don’t have to be seen as an elitist.
You can be snobby about your MBA if you want. But why? I have found that staying humble and learning from everyone is the best course of action. Using the knowledge I gained from business school to help others has made a lasting difference in both business relationships as well as personal ones. Helping a friend polish his or her resume or prepare for an interview, and then watching them get a job offer, is a pretty exciting experience.
7. Business school habits die hard.
Time management, wellness, healthy living, and a lifelong pursuit of learning and growth are all traits you can develop or refine at business school. For many (myself included), basic habits that I honed daily during HBS continue to be invaluable today in terms of maintaining balance and health. I found the two years critical to establishing many of the building blocks in my career.
8. B-school buddies are priceless.
No one will be able to convince you that the expense of B-school, roughly $200K in direct costs at most full-time programs today (not to mention opportunity cost, which you hopefully learn about in business school), is cheap. Business School is a huge investment. However, amazing friendships that enrich your life are not an item you should put a price tag on. The unquantified items from business school — time spent reflecting, time with wonderful friends, and the forging of new relationships — will have more lasting value than you can imagine right now.
This guest post is written by Ben Faw. Ben is a Co-Founder and COO at BestReviews, helping arm consumers with confidence and clarity to simplify purchasing decisions. His education includes West Point, Harvard Business School, and multiple military schools including Ranger and Airborne School.