This Insider info comes from Sharon Barrett, Director of Working Professional & Executive MBA Admissions.
If you are still deciding between leaving your job to attend an MBA full-time, or continuing to work while you earn your degree part-time, rest assured you’re not alone. Here are some basic questions I ask people who are grappling with this decision:
What do you want to do with your MBA?
The answer to this question can help determine whether a full-time or part-time program makes more sense for you. The majority of Texas McCombs MBA students go into their MBA with the goal of switching jobs. Our Working Professional (WP) MBA programs – Evening MBA (in Austin), MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth, and MBA at Houston – are an excellent fit for those looking to switch to a career in consulting, or to move into a different function within the same industry (such as operations to finance, or vice versa). The strong general management focus of the curriculum in the WP programs also gives graduates the tools they need to run a company, whether it’s their own or someone else’s. And hands-on experiences through the MBA+ Leadership Program offer students the opportunity to work on a consulting project to sharpen the skills needed for a switch.
If you’re planning a complete industry switch, say from software engineering to financial services, or moving into a specialized field such as investment banking or clean tech, then you may want to think about how your past experiences are related to these goals. If they’re completely unrelated, getting exposure and experience in this field prior to beginning your job search can be important. The Full-Time MBA requires a summer internship, and the elective choices allow students to dive deep into a specific industry or area of focus to position you for a strong career pivot.
Tip: Research your target companies in advance and see if they require an internship with the company prior to full-time employment.
Where are you in your career?
A lot of folks want to keep the momentum going in their careers while they’re still in school, and the WP programs allow you to do that. In addition, many employers provide educational benefits which help defray costs. Another added benefit is the opportunity to put knowledge into action immediately. Students across our WP MBA programs have been given more responsibility, promotions, and raises while they’re still in the program because they’re bringing more value to the organization in real time. Still others have landed new jobs during the program, and they can begin immediately while they finish their degrees.
When you pause your career (and income) to pursue a full-time MBA, there’s a lot of preparation and work that go into getting your career up and running again as you approach graduation and beyond. And the summer internship becomes an integral part of the job search. It’s like a 90-day interview.
Texas McCombs Bonus: All Texas McCombs MBA programs have career management professionals to help you no matter which route you choose or where you are in the process of earning your degree, and the resources are the same across programs.
Do you have the support of your employer and family?
If you continue working, there will be less of you to go around both at home and at work. You become a quick expert at time management, efficiency, and prioritization. Everyone needs to know that you will have a lot going on for the duration of your program, so it’s best to have these conversations up front before you submit your application. Support from your employer, not only for your professional development but also financially, can make a very compelling case for a professional MBA.
Family support is critical regardless of whether you choose a full-time or WP MBA. You’ll be completely immersing yourself into a very active and engaging community of people who aren’t in your circle today. A typical day for an MBA student starts before 7 a.m. and ends after 11 p.m., even for those in the full-time program. Bring your significant other and family along for the ride, but make sure they are on board very early in the process and all expectations are clear as you navigate your new lifestyle.
Do you have a preference for one program over the other?
I always ask this question, even though I know it’s uncomfortable to pigeon-hole yourself with a straight answer. It makes sense to learn about all the options available to you. But the reality is– if your gut is telling you which way to go, then go for it! And for those who still can’t decide when it comes down to submitting an application, there’s always the option to apply to both programs and weigh your options once they come in. Sometimes the path gets clearer as the program start date approaches, and it’s always nice to have options.