Next career step?
May 1, 2014 5:58 PM   Subscribe

I have a few options for my next career step. Deciding between a few options or business school.

I have a few options for my next career step.

I have been at my company for almost two years. I am beginning to get bored because the nature of my work is not that interesting and slow, and I am underutilized. Also the company is declining in business - while we have enough capital to go for a few years, I'd rather be in a place that is growing. The great thing about it is that I have been a high performer and the CEO really likes me, and that executive sponsorship has been very helpful.

I interviewed with another company and have an offer. It's a big pay raise (+$15k), I would be in Sydney for a few months, and it's a growing company. However, something in my gut says it's not right because I noticed as a woman that it's not very good for women (low male to female ratios, Glassdoor reviews saying negative things about women). There are few female senior managers or execs. I've raised this concern and they are definitely trying to address it, but something in my gut says it's not right, so I think I will pass.

I am talking to another company that I am really excited about. They have a great product, great people. I know it would be an amazing opportunity. I am doing my final round interview with them. I would be really excited if I got that opportunity.

I also talked to my mentor. She said I should consider business school. It was something on my radar but I wasn't seriously thinking about it. Finances are not a concern because I have enough saved (very lucky). My long term goal is to be an executive running a company, and I know business school would significantly help with that goal. I am at that good time now to go to business school. The key is that I need good recommendations, and I know my current managers and CEO would write great ones -- hence I should stick it out for another year and apply. I would aim to apply by the Sept. deadline, in a few months.

I'm stressed because I feel like this is a big decision and a lot in the future will depend on what I decide now. Any insights are appreciated.
posted by pando11 to Work & Money (4 answers total)
> it's not very good for women (low male to female ratios

While that's a warning flag to some extent, the fact that they're willing to hire you means that this isn't necessarily permanent; but how big is the company? You have an opportunity to help improve that ratio, though whether that's good or not is hard to say from the information I have.

> I also talked to my mentor. She said I should consider business school.

Business school is hit-or-miss. The thing is, modern business schools teach you to "manage" in an overly generic sense, teaching that anyone with an MBA is qualified to manage essentially any kind of business. In reality, it's just a starting point, and brings with it some misconceptions that can damage your ability to really be as effective as a manager who has come up from the business itself and truly understands what their employees do.

But, that said, if you want to be an executive - and care more about that than about your actual effectiveness as a manager - then business school is indeed the fast track.

I just hope that what you want is to be an executive in a *particular kind of company*, a business you're interested in, a business you understand or really truly want to understand, where you'll be able to make competent decisions using your intuition, memory, and experience, and not just by following the process and saying the right things. The world has enough of those people.
posted by mike_sol at 6:14 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would investigate the offer further...a bird in the hand and all that, but your gut is almost always right.

As for b-school, I would find a company who will pay for it. Sure, you may be able to shoulder the financing of it, but a company that is willing to invest in your future is willing to help you move up the ladder. Some places will even give you a leave of absence to get your degree.
posted by xingcat at 6:39 PM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The thing about business school is, you can always go. If you don't go this year, you can go next year. If you don't go next year, you can go in three years. I don't think there's any downside to waiting, as long as you're gainfully employed. I am very glad I didn't go to business school when I first started seriously considering it (about 5 years ago), because I know my experience in the work place has given me a better sense of career direction (I'm getting an MPH, for one). I'm getting a lot more out of grad school now then I would have then.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:45 PM on May 1, 2014

I got my MBA when I was 32. I had been working in the corporate world for 14 years at that point.

The only time I'd say quit your job and concentrate full time on an MBA is if you got into a top tier school. If it's not Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, etc. It's not worth it to pay for yourself or to quit work while pursuing it.

The job offer you have sounds incredible, anything that lets you work abroad is totally worthwhile. Glassdoor is only okay for sussing out information on companies, not for getting the whole picture. Most people go there when they're disgruntled. So the reviews are skewed. And even if they are correct, how can a company change course with women, if women won't work there to show them the way?

Anecdata, my current company is BLASTED on Glassdoor, but most of what was said, was said by the people who were on their way out, for not producing, and the new regime is pretty great and I'm very happy. So, sure, it's a starting point, but that's ALL it is. There may be other things that are triggering red flags for you, and if so, it's okay not to take the job.

There's another fallacy out there for women which is get more skills, more education, more training more experience, and THEN we'll hire you. I don't know if your mentor has bought into this, but for every woman who has an MBA, 10 years of experience and who has worked with the program for 5 years, there's a dude who came from sales with a BA from an indifferent school, who is viewed as equally qualified. It sucks, and it's still true, I don't CARE where you work.

So, my suggestion is to see if you get the great job, but if you don't, reconsider the offer you have, because I'd have jumped at that.

As for the MBA...I can't say it's useless, mine has given me a broader view of the corporate world, but it's not a game-changer unless it's from a top school.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:55 AM on May 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

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