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MBA for devs: demonstrating ability, commitment, and effort


This is part 2 of a series of reasons why a software engineer should consider getting an MBA.

Deciding to pursue a graduate degree in any discipline is a big step, showing that you are capable of signing up for hard work above and beyond what is required to make a comfortable living. It shows that you take an interest in your profession, in your career, and your chosen subject. And that’s just the beginning...

To start with, it’s not easy to get into a graduate program. You need to pass tests, get reference letters, and have demonstrated academic aptitude in the past. A graduate student has been selected from a pool of candidates because they seem like they will be successful; to a person making hiring decisions, it’s like having a really strong reference from a very smart person. Of course, to be most effective, the school should have some reputation for quality nationally, or at least within the community where you are applying.

Second, once in, things get much harder. You will be balancing your work and home responsibilities with those of being a graduate student. You will be faced with difficult choices about your priorities and will need to make them correctly, whatever that means for you. Being a graduate student means daily delivery on a commitment that you made when you were better rested and when you idealized the process and experience. Chugging along despite the realities of grad school demonstrates your ability to honor your commitments and work toward a distant goal.

Lastly, there’s graduation, which means someone gets a big stamp and pushes it down on some paper saying that you have put years of effort and sacrifice (not to mention thousands of dollars) into achieving something, and that you’ve done and paid enough to give it a name. You've seen a difficult journey through to the absolute end, and in so doing have demonstrated that you are reliable, that you work hard, and that you care about more than a paycheck and more than getting out at 5:00 every day. You’re a starter, a doer, and a closer.

Not bad! Personally, I think those qualities would look good on anyone. Next time I’ll go into how graduate business school can give you a surprising number of opportunities to fit in programming.

Next up: how an MBA program can teach you important soft skills.