Most people who are looking for Product Manager positions believe that having an MBA will help them in their job hunt, but that is usually not the case. We get this question all the time at Product Gym and my first responses are as follows:
- Why do you want an MBA degree?
- What is the value you think you will receive?
- Who do you think you will meet?
- What doors to you believe an MBA will open for you?
- What competitive advantages do you believe an MBA will provide for you on your Product Management job hunt?
- What assumptions are you making?
- How certain or uncertain are these assumptions?
And the responses we get from the people that ask us are usually, “but money is not a problem for me.” Sure, but what about your time? Is your time free? How much is YOUR TIME worth? How much is your time worth to you?
The truth is, an MBA doesn’t really hold much weight anymore. Recruiters are not as impressed by an MBA as they used to be. The answer is that it’s better than not having one, but having one isn’t saying a whole lot.
If you want to be a Product Manager, the best side project you can possibly take on right now is Product Managing your life.
You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to waste and kill, even if money is not the issue. People operate under the assumption that having an MBA will make their Product Management job hunt easier than what they are enduring right now. We have MBA grads from every major university you can imagine between the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; and they will tell you that they met a lot of great people and had many fond experiences, but didn’t really learn a whole lot. There were only a handful of classes offered in the Product Management discipline and even fewer career resources given since Product Management is still such a new field.
If you are looking at the situation objectively you have to consider that the Chief KPI that matters in a job hunt is how many interviews you are going on. The only two factors you should consider are:
- How are you going to increase the quantity of the Product Manager interviews you are going on.
- How to improve the quality of the Product Manager interviews you are going on (also known as your conversion ratio).
Having an MBA degree neither increases the quantity or improves the quality of the Product Manager interviews you will need to secure a Product Manager job.
We know what you are thinking, “but what about all the cool people I will meet?” Having an MBA is not the only way to meet people. Those who attend school to get their MBA are from a wide range of industries and professions, and they’re not all targeting a Product Manager position themselves.
Being a rockstar Product Manager doesn’t mean you are currently working as a Product Manager at a big company, it means you can think critically. It means you aren’t subjected to impulse or any other emotions that cause people to act with facts, evidence, or data. This means you should be able to at the very least possess some degree of above average decision making and reasoning. Make this decision as if you were already a Product Manager and your team is deciding how to best allocate their resources and time.