Not finance or banking. What experts say about the new value of an MBA

If you search for the worth of an MBA online, you won’t be too surprised to see a barrage of results saying that the MBA is dead, that it’s a waste of time and of money.  In the post-Great Recession era, many will advise students to steer clear of this once golden degree.  But experts from reliable sources have begun to look at the MBA differently.  Like many things, the degree is not dead but in fact changing to the times and evolving.

MBA article entrepreneurExperts have started to see even the most traditional business schools begin to revise their curriculum.  They’re changing leadership and concentrations within the so-called “elite” schools to accommodate a new demand and future for the MBA: entrepreneurship.

Why is entrepreneurship important in the MBA program today?

In an interview with Bloomberg Business Week, Anna Ivey discusses the shift away from finance and investment banking in business programs.  She describes an overall refocus now on developing the entrepreneurial skill set of the student.  Graduates are taught not just to work in the business sector but to lead it via their own small to medium sized businesses.  So the traditional skill set of an MBA is now broadened to enable the student to transfer these skills into his own personal goals.

On Forbes.com, George Deeb stated that there is “a seismic shift in demand for an alternative business education… One that teaches the basics in starting your own business and being your own boss.  One that is tapped into local startup ecosystems with access to venture capitalists and startup incubators.  One that marries expertise in technology development, with startup business and marketing skills.”  He supports a new type of business education that focuses on individual leadership so that graduates don’t just “work for the man” but they “are the man”.

Johnson and Johnson’s global director responsible for university recruiting, Frank Rodriguez told BusinessInsider.com that “Employees with a MBA learn valuable leadership and collaboration skills. They also understand how to work effectively with different cultures.”  He looks for graduates that come from schools with intercultural experiences on top of the basic skills offered by many business programs.

How should students get their worth out of their business degrees?

In any graduate degree program, students will get out what they put in.  These programs take commitment and the first step is choosing a school that is a good fit for you.  While Nyack College’s MBA program may not be for you, still we’d have recommended the following checklist when applying to any college:

-Consider an online MBA which allows you to manage family/personal life

-Work full time so you can begin applying what you learn right away and add your professional observations to class discussion

-Choose a concentration that will help your career the most, such as entrepreneurship

-Transfer any credits that will lighten your course load

-Ask about grants offered by your workplace or at the school

-Check the cohort size.  You don’t want anything over 20 students in a class

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Undergrad Mom Turned Valedictorian and MBA

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Every valedictorian has a story to tell.  This week our featured alumna is the 2011 valedictorian of the Manhattan campus: Annette Mendoza.  On a cold Friday, we caught up with her for an interview about her life as a Nyack Warrior and as an MBA.

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Annette fits into the new category of modern-day college student.  A mother of three and full time professional in the banking industry, Annette began her career in 1994 and in 2007 decided to finish her bachelor’s degree in New York City at Nyack College. She began the interview by saying:  “I started as a [bank] teller and worked my way up.”  She wanted to continue her education but life had its demands.  Her career was going well and she had kids in elementary school.  In a one-year span she had doubled her salary and jumped 10 levels at Dime Savings.  She became a trainer and then assistant manager, diving into analytical work.

 

On returning to school to finish her degree, she said, “Looking back it didn’t seem fast.  But now it just seems amazing.”

 

Annette’s Job in a Nutshell

“I don’t do the same thing every day,” said Annette about her work at Signature Bank.  Up early to help her kids out the door, she then leaves her home in Queens and arrives at her Manhattan office by 8:30am.  Her day ends at 5pm and in between she works with branch managers as a technical software analyst.  Her responsibilities include working within the mainframe, ensuring accounts are created and maintained properly.  She runs integrity reports to check client data so that nothing has been entered incorrectly.  She helps customers and bank managers on a daily basis and when big projects come up, such system upgrades, Annette reports to the office on the weekend too.  While life may be hectic she laughed, saying, “I really enjoy what I do.”

 

Her Life as a Nyack Warrior

Annette returned to school to study business administration.  After 15+ years in the workforce and a busy family life, she made the leap and took night classes at Nyack College’s Manhattan campus.  “I had a feeling in my heart that Nyack was the place for me,” she said when we asked her how tough it was as an undergrad mom.  “The professors were very supportive.  Dr. Grant was always available and accommodating especially when I wanted a finance concentration in New York City.  He helped me make it happen so that I could achieve what I needed to.”

 

Professors in her undergraduate classes helped Annette plan for the future and when she became valedictorian of her graduating class, they encouraged her to continue for a master’s degree in business administration.

 

Getting her MBA

Annette didn’t think she could continue if she wasn’t “100% full-hearted” about the program.  She was taking time away from her family.  She was sacrificing sleep and free time.  So when she met the director of the graduate program, she knew what she was facing: 16 intense months that was only possible because of her family, friends, and program mentors.  “Dr. Becker was an excellent professor.  I saw his passion and knew that I wasn’t just a number to him.  There was a personal touch and the professors knew who I was and were concerned about me.  It was a blessing.”

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How has life changed with an MBA?

Annette replied simply, saying that she can work in a wider array of jobs.  Her workflow is effectively structured according to best practices that she learned at Nyack College.  The master’s degree in business administration helped her create tools to improve her job performance. “I work smarter not harder,” Annette said, adding that she feels better prepared for the unknown and confident that her career in business has a solid foundation.  In the future, she even hopes to teach business and personal finance.

 

Advice for MBA students?

“Don’t give up!” Annette explained.  So many times she had an urge to stop and call it quits.  But pressing forward and finishing was one of the greatest achievements she’s had.  In a small cohort of eight students, Annette said the camaraderie helped too.  Each class is a step that the entire group experiences together.

 

‘There’s a lot of changing.”  Annette described the true challenge of the program.  “You are becoming a master in this field.  You are being shaped and molded.  You will cry, laugh, and then you will look back.  There will be a sense of accomplishment.  So just keep moving forward!”

 

Final Thoughts and Thank you’s

We asked Annette if she wanted us to highlight anything in particular in this article.  She answered, “Yes!  My husband, Carlos.  I couldn’t have done it without him.”  Her many thanks go out to her children: Christopher, Faith, and Jeremiah for their understanding and support.  Finally, she gives her best wishes to the next cohorts in the MBA program at Nyack College.

 

Note from the Editor:  Alumni Spotlight is a special column dedicated to Nyack Warriors around the world.  Whether on the banks of the Hudson River or in Battery Park, Warriors go far and wide.  Do you know an alumnus with a great story?  Please message us so we can share their story on our blog.

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