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When is the right time for me to get an MBA?

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There’s a good chance you’re at your desk at work reading this right now. Perhaps you’ve had a recurring thought that you’re not where you want to be in your career and that you need to do something to fix this. You’ve explored your options and see an MBA as a smooth segue into a new career. But how do you know when it is the right time to leave your job to pursue an MBA?

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In order to determine if you are ready to begin an MBA program, ask yourself the following questions:

What do you want to do after you earn your MBA?

If you are in the early stages of considering an MBA, you may not have thought about what you want to do after graduation. It may seem strange to think that far ahead, but now is the time to map out the career you want to have. Do you see yourself in corporate finance or operations management? Do you have strong interest in real estate or marketing? What is the difference between investment banking and investment management, and what would a career in each involve? While your interests may shift and evolve as you pursue your MBA, mapping out your post-MBA goals now will give you direction and focus while in school, and help you sell yourself to recruiters as a promising candidate for jobs and internships.

I’m interested.

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How long have you been in the workforce?

Once you know what you want to do with your MBA, start exploring the companies that you would be interested in working for. Do you have enough experience now to be hired at these companies? Some consulting firms require several years of relevant work experience, in addition to an MBA, for certain positions. On the other hand, some marketing firms may hire career switchers with no marketing experience as long as they have demonstrated success in an MBA program. It is important to understand the typical work experience requirements for your chosen sector and within the particular firms for whom you would like to work.

Can you afford it – financially and personally?

Putting your career on hold for two years and paying for tuition at a top-tier business school can be a daunting financial proposition. If you have enough savings, can expect some amount of scholarship dollars or can rely on partial or full sponsorship from your employer, you are in a good position to start your MBA now. Remember to consider your expected post-graduation income when budgeting for these two years (another reason to map out your career path now). Decide whether your personal life can “afford” this leap as well. Is your family or partner willing to take on the challenge of moving to a new city, state or even country? Are they willing to put their careers and lives on hold for this important step towards your future? It is advisable to have conversations with the important people in your life to determine whether this choice is feasible for everyone.

Start the process!

When deciding whether it’s the right time for you to go back to school to get your MBA, carefully explore your options and determine whether you can reasonably expect the outcome you desire. If you’re unhappy with your current job, but have no idea what to do next, begin to contemplate these topics – what career do you really want, do you have the experience required to use an MBA to achieve your goals, and can you afford the transition personally and financially? Once you have solid answers to these questions, and are able to see how an MBA will help you transition to and achieve success in the career you want, you will be in a good position to start the process of evaluating MBA programs, taking the GMAT and applying to your chosen schools.