University Instructor Changing Careers- Online MBA or Traditional MBA?

Discussion in 'Business and MBA degrees' started by CliffK, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. CliffK

    CliffK New Member

    Hello Everyone,

    I’m in desperate need of some career advice from some of the very knowledgeable folks on here. I’m very seriously considering an MBA as a way to change careers and to get into a career in which I can support myself. I’ve considered many different advanced degrees over the years. I find value in the MBA because it teaches broad, business-based skills that seem to be in high demand. I’ve been reading through some economics and finance textbooks and been finding it interesting, so I believe it is an area that I could enjoy. I’m wondering which type of program would be best- online or brick-and-mortar.

    A brief background about me: I’m currently an English instructor and foreign faculty coordinator at a highly ranked university in South Korea. We have a 4 year employment cap, and I will hit that cap in the summer of 2020. At that time, I plan on returning to my home country of the United States. I’ve been at this job for about 2 years already, and prior to this I spent 1 year teaching middle school here, one year teaching elementary school here, and then spent 2 years in sales at a wireless company in the U.S.

    I currently hold a B.A. in psychology from Clemson University, and an M.A. in professional development from Amberton University. My challenge is that teaching generally doesn’t pay enough to live on in the U.S. (nor do I the credentials needed to teach there). Plus, I think in two years I will be ready for a career switch. My plan is to hopefully use these next two years to position myself for a successful return to the U.S. Having graduated during the Great Recession and having struggled (and never really succeeding) in finding meaningful work in the U.S., I hope to return in a better position.

    Therefore, I’m thinking that an MBA program would suit me since I have quite a few years of working experience which I know is a requirement. So, my next question is which program to choose. I loved my time at Amberton, and have strongly considered doing the MBA there, since there would be the added advantage of needing less credits to complete it. However, several of my friends in the business world have advised against it because of the lack of name recognition, ranking, and networking.

    Some have suggested a residency-based program for when I return, and to use these next two years to study for the GMAT. For me, the major drawbacks to this approach are two-fold: these residency MBA programs are not only extremely expensive ($50-80K+), but they also don’t really take advantage of this two year time period I have right now. I should add that my current job gives me almost three months of vacation a year and three day weekends so I definitely have time on my hands.

    A final option is this iMBA program I’ve recently found which is offered in partnership with Coursera through the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. I see a couple of advantages to this program. First, the cost is reasonable (around $22,000). Second, it is a ranked program from a well-known school. Third, I can use my next two years here in Korea to complete or almost complete the program. Fourth, the final degree would simply say “MBA” and makes no mention of it being online, not that I think there is anything wrong with online learning but I know some employers have a bias.

    I can see two main drawbacks to this program. First, I would imagine there are less networking opportunities with this program. Second, there is no internship. As these two aspects seem to be sometimes more important than the educational value of the program itself, I wonder about the true value of the degree, and if I might simply find myself overqualified and unemployed in two years.

    Any advice for going forward or what I should do would be most valued and appreciated. Thank you!
  2. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Well-Known Member

    You've been a little vague about your career intentions. What exactly do you want to do that would make an MBA a major step up from a BA from a major university and a master's in professional development from a reputable university?
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    Two things to consider:
    You need to think about what, spefically, you want to do in your career and then work to become qualified for that job. An MBA will not be useless if you want a career in Business. Then, if networking is important to you, you need to think about where you want to live. There will be no networking advantage to an Illinois degree if you’re living in San Francisco (for example).
  4. CliffK

    CliffK New Member

    Thanks for the responses so far. To respond to FTFaculty, although I am not sure of my exact career path, marketing, leadership, and international business area all areas that seem interesting, but since I haven’t studied them in depth it’s hard to know exactly. I’m hopeful that an MBA program would expose me to more potential career options and fields, and help me to better zero in on an ideal job.

    You’re right in that my career intentions are not quite as clear as they should be. I suppose this is partly because I am jumping from something that I know very well (teaching) to something very new. I think my great fear is returning to the U.S. and not being able to find meaningful work. When I was in the U.S., my work was never meaningful nor did it allow me to support myself.

    In addition, last summer when I came back to visit the U.S., I applied to two different, well-regarded recruiting agencies to gauge interest and check into opportunities. Neither of them responded back to me. This makes me think that I need more marketable skills before returning to the U.S. permanently. Business seems like an area that is both widely applicable and has enough possible career options where I could find something that interests me and is in demand by companies.

    To respond to Kizmet, that is a good point about where to live. I’m open to living anywhere where I can support myself and find meaningful work. I do believe that even without the networking, I would learn a lot with either the Amberton or the iMBA degree. I just want to make sure that the investment is worth it.

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