My MBA Experience

Well since I received a few questions about my MBA experience, I'll expand on some things. I didn't go straight out of undergrad. I did it before I finished undergrad. The University of Kentucky started this program in the early 90s that allowed 15 freshmen engineering students to go through school and graduate with two degrees at the same time – an engineering degree in the field of choice and an MBA. It was a good program because the group was fairly close-knit, except for me because I did a co-op on top of this and it through me out of sequence with everyone else. We got to do lots of special things, like meet important people and go to Europe for a summer to study international business. It was a good program overall. But the graduate business work was significantly easier than the undergrad engineering work. Let me take that back. It was easier for me, but maybe not for everyone. Those who were too rigid as engineers didn't deal well with the grey areas in many of the classes. But, I remember in a Finance class I sat next to a real bright girl who had attended Princeton and was one of the top students in the program at UK. We got our first test back and she told me how much she has studied, but still got a high B. I got a 97%. She asked how much I had studied and I said about a half hour. After having math classes like Vector Calculus and Math of Fields and Waves, Finance was pretty straightforward.

So what was lacking in my MBA program? Unconventional thinking. Variety. Substance. Sure I learned how to keep the books, how to evaluate risk and return, how to motivate employees, and all about the four P's of marketing. But a lot of that is bullshit. It is not what running a business is all about. It is really about making good fast decisions with limited information. They don't teach you that in business school (not at mine anyway). They act like you always have the information you need to make a decision. So should we drop those other classes? Nope. You need to understand all that on a basic level. The degree needs to change. There needs to be something more comprehensive. There needs to be something more like a PhD, but PhDs usually prepare you to research a topic more than practice it. I would add more classes and a required internship or "real-world" project. I would make the students work while in school, and talk about what they did day to day.

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Other people may disagree. My classmates may feel that they were very well prepared for their jobs, but they weren't like me. I remember one day we sat talking about an article on Proctor and Gamble. Someone said something like "yes well this is the level we all hope to acheive someday." I said "middle management?" The response was an overwhelming yes. Everyone wanted to get an MBA so they could be in upper middle management. I wanted to do my own thing. There isn't anything wrong with what they wanted (I can vouch that starting a business is not for everyone), but that may explain why I didn't feel it prepared me well for my future.

So, in answer to SugarMama's question – am I criticizing night school? No. I think people will actually get more out of an MBA if they work at least a little while they do it. But at UK, the night classes were easier than the day classes and everyone knew it. And there are some schools out there that will give anyone a degree. If anyone can get a certain certification, it doesn't really make it that impressive to have, now does it?

So that is what I experienced. But I really think I have learned more from reading, blogging, and of course, running a business.