Having studied business as a minor during my undergraduate studies, and later getting an MBA, I’ve often wondered about the value of the business classes I’ve taken.
My undergraduate major was Applied Computer Science. That curriculum taught me actual programming skills that I used from the beginning of my career. Using those skills in a business environment allowed me to learn the ropes of the business world head-on.
So it begs the question: Can you learn business from a book and a classroom? Or should you learn a business-related skill (such as computer programming) to get started in the business world and learn the basics of business and management through experience?
A recent Wall Street Journal Article asks the same question. It reports that some experts argue that college programs should teach students practical skills they can immediately use in the business world and save the business learning for actual experience in the business world.
It goes on to explain how some companies, including consultancy Booz & Co., recruit from a wide range of majors and then train employees to be great consultants.
Major benefits of an MBA:
1) Open doors. Getting an MBA has probably gotten me interviews and introductions I may not have gotten otherwise.
2) Networking. I met and have connected via LinkedIn with a lot of business associates I know from business school. It greatly expanded my network.
3) Actual business learning. The classes I took taught me, reminded me and reinforced in me, a lot of interesting and useful business concepts.
I don’t mean to discount what I learned from my business classes by placing it third. I just think the enhanced resume and network have been more helpful.
I could argue that my experiences taught me more than my studies. But who knows if I would have gotten those experiences without the education?
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As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.