In addition to opening up new career opportunities for women, who are more likely than men to switch careers, an MBA could boost a woman’s lifetime earning potential by $3 million, says Forté Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping women advance their careers through business education. But how do you know whether an MBA is right for you? And if it is the right move, should you consider both part-time and full-time programs? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but women should consider the following aspects as they contemplate a return to graduate school.
The growing demand for a work-life balance, by women as well as men, leads some women to discard the MBA option before giving it proper consideration. After all, very few of us would view the 80+ hour work week typical of investment banking as conducive to a happy personal life. However, by thinking about their goals long-term, women realize that those skills and contacts from business school will allow them greater freedom to start their own businesses or tailor their professional lives to better suit their personal needs.
Business school is expensive and time-consuming, so you’ll first need to examine your professional goals and assess your current skills. If a career switch is what you’re looking for, than a full-time MBA program is the best way to achieve that goal. During those two years, you’ll cultivate an invaluable network and have exposure to an array of opportunities and internships that will have a life-long effect on your career.
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On the other hand, if your focus is on sharpening your skills and turbo-charging your current career path, a part-time MBA can help you achieve that without causing as much disruption to your life. Women who are married or in long-term relationships, especially those who have children, may find uprooting their family too disruptive, and the financial burden of forgoing a salary for two years may not be practical for some applicants.
For moms who are reentering the workforce after several years at home, an MBA can be a perfect launching pad. The credential can add credibility, and the curriculum, network, and career services office are invaluable tools.
Once admitted, women should take advantage of the various targeted clubs, conferences and organizations that are available on campus. These resources provide exceptional leadership, networking and mentoring opportunities, as well as crucial personal and professional support.
While jobs and companies come and go, the MBA degree provides a network, education and credential that remains with you for life. The ability to draw on these tools at any point in your professional journey — whether searching for a job with a larger company or embarking on your own venture — is extremely valuable and provides you with both peace of mind and the career you deserve.