Chris Reagan asked me to comment on: “I feel like I could write ‘all the reasons everyone’s told you an MBA is great, but why it won’t help you figure out what you want to do.’
From a curricular standpoint, that is by design. The MBA is a generalist degree. Its power lies in giving you many options.Nothing is more valuable than having options. You can take the conceptual, analytic and communication skills you learn in an MBA program and apply them to a wide variety of settings. In a world that is moving fast and where people have to reinvent themselves every eight to ten years to stay relevant, strong general skills are a must. Math, statistics, platform skills, and the ability to write never ever go out of style.
Realize that what you want to do for a living isn’t in the curriculum, it is in you. Most people don’t know what they want to do when they grow up and it tends to change over time. The only real way to know this is to experience the job. That is why I am so big on internships and job shadowing while you are in school–it allows you to see the day to day of the work and what people do. Asking professionals about their work in areas that interest you can also help. The other thing to remember here is that if you try something and don’t like it–don’t be afraid to try something else. Don’t fall victim to the fallacy of sunk costs.
Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on October 11, 2012. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley.