A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree used to be a requirement to reach the upper echelons of the corporate ladder. In the past, most C-suite executives and their second in commands have this outstanding achievement tacked to their names. It was to show the public that they’re well-equipped to handle the responsibilities and concerns that come with a position of power, whether it’s being the leading FMO health insurance provider or dominating the automobile industry.
However, what was right in the past is no longer applicable in today’s modern world. Employers are no longer interested to see if an employee has an MBA or not, as long as they can efficiently do the work. Simultaneously, professionals don’t find an MBA attractive anymore due to its high investment in time and money, which will not guarantee success. As a result, MBA programs are seeing double-digit declines in their enrollment. It’s not surprising when entrepreneurs like Alibaba founder Jack Ma or Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek didn’t need advanced degrees to be successful.
You can consider these alternatives if you want to improve your career but don’t want to get an MBA degree.
Start a business
There’s nothing like the practical experience of starting a business that will teach you about its ins and outs. You will be exposed to all areas, from marketing and finance to human resources and operations, and will be able to see how they relate to one another. Sometimes it’s easy to develop ideas when the situation is hypothetical like in an MBA lecture. But another thing when you are also tasked to implement the strategy while ensuring your initial investment yields returns. There’s also something valuable when you experience your first failure and success as an entrepreneur. That raw emotional and intellectual effort doesn’t hold a candle to listening to lectures and reading books.
Check out free online and offline resources
With the popularity of e-learning, it’s possible to access the information you need on the internet. Online courses are available to enroll in, and most of them are free such as on Coursera or edX. The courses are even taught by experts in the field. For example, the likes of Harvard and Stanford record the actual lectures being taught on campus. You can even check out this guide to study the whole MBA curriculum without spending any money.
Pursue a more specialized degree
One of the weaknesses of an MBA is how it’s a jack of all trade. Students only have an overview of all the different areas of a business, instead of spending time to be an expert in one. That can backfire, especially in specialized industries like technology in marketing. Employers will most likely choose someone who knows programming languages and has built a mobile application than someone who has an MBA. If going back to school is still appealing as a career move, you can consider getting the more specialized degrees and certifications. Most of the time, they are shorter and less expensive.
While an MBA can still be an option to level up one’s business skills, you shouldn’t be limited to it. Starting a business, looking for more knowledge resources, and choosing a more specialized degree are good alternatives.