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Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

An MBA won’t solve your career crisis

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read

How do I know?

MBA students told me, which ultimately led me to decide against going to business school.

I wanted to get an MBA since I started studying engineering at the University of Michigan.

It seemed like the next logical step to take once I began my career.

I took the GMAT exam senior year and joined a consulting firm. Business school was reinforced as the best next move by everyone around me.

I’d spent my life following the playbook on How To Be Successful, and it had gotten me this far. Why stop now?

So I prepared my recommenders and began visiting top MBA programs across the country.

I was dead set on Stanford and had my dream classes picked out. It'd be difficult to get accepted, but that's what made it so enticing. I needed the prestige like I needed to get A pluses growing up.

Once I realized how little I had actually saved up, I decided to interview active MBA students to confirm the plan…

First years said:

“It’s been SO much fun.”

Second years said:

“I wouldn’t change it but… I wish I knew why I was going.”
“There wasn’t as much time as I thought to explore.”
“I came to campus and had to recruit right away.”

These conversations pushed me to figure out what I really wanted and find my deeper why.

I dropped the external expectations, and got honest with myself.

Upon further reflection, I realized that an MBA — while it’d be fun and I’d expand my network — wouldn’t be the best ROI (both money and time) if I wanted to become an entrepreneur.

It wasn’t worth going into massive debt to put my career on pause for 2 years. It’d be a better use of time to stack skills at an early stage startup, get paid to do it, and save up to launch my own business instead.

Those MBAs unknowingly talked me out of it. I saved over $200K thanks to them.

Spending $2,000 to figure out my next career move suddenly seemed like a small price to pay.

The small savings I’d amassed funded the startup job seeker accelerator program I joined (for 1/100th of the cost) and the 3-month leave of absence I took to pivot careers.

The decision NOT to go to business school accelerated my career — in the direction I needed.

It set me on my path of encouraging others to get clarity on their vision & values, take control of their career, and invest in themselves and their skills. It's why you're reading this right now.

What about the MBA students who went without knowing their deeper why?

Many are still lost. Tighter golden handcuffs and piles of debt influence their career decisions despite having an incredible network. Take my former colleague who hates his banking job for example.

Others reach out to me for coaching support. Told their MBA would be the solution, but they weren't taught how to get career clarity or how to market themselves in a sea of other qualified graduates.

One told me this week, “My MBA program left me more confused. I had even more ideas of what I could do with my career and was no closer to narrowing it down.”

This could have easily been me.

Whether an MBA is a cost or an investment in your future self — it depends on who you want to be.

The decision is personal.

If you think it through, you may learn than an MBA is indeed the best route to accelerate your career.

It could be a complete career reset and path into a new direction, powered by a great brand name and supercharged network.

My friend Jennifer is using hers to pivot from startups to venture capital. Another friend moved from construction to consulting and maximized her earning potential as a result.

An MBA could be the designated next step in your career path of choice, and your career options will expand momentously afterward.

Many senior leaders I’ve met in big tech, consulting, and investing have an MBA — though I believe the rise of online education and internet communities have made it far less of a requirement for the next generation.

If you get it paid for and can afford it, a full-time MBA could be a 2-year hiatus from work with darn good upside. Learning and traveling with friends all over the world? Heck yes.

So should YOU pursue an MBA?

If you’re at a career crossroads, use these 6 steps to figure out if you need an MBA (or what to do instead):

  1. Do deep self reflection on what you want from your life and career. Keep asking why to get deeper.
  2. What MUST be true to achieve that end goal?
  3. Question the assumptions you just wrote down. Look for evidence of how you might be wrong.
  4. Narrow down your set of assumptions on what must be true
  5. Eliminate what you’re currently doing (or planning to) that doesn’t align
  6. Take massive action on what will get you closer

I’m not anti-business school. I am anti-following the default path because everyone else does.

Learn how to define your own version of success. Then figure out the fastest path to get there.

This will serve you far more than any degree.

If you're curious to learn more about this perspective, read The Pathless Path by Paul Millerd. My story mirrors his in many ways. I've read it twice in the past year, and the lessons hit differently at various stages of the journey. 10/10 recommend.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can support you:

1) [Limited Time Only] If you’re looking for clear direction and want to get FIRED UP about your career again, grab the limited time replay of Career Clarity Launchpad. In 60 min, you'll learn how to get career clarity & immediate action steps to unlock more income, impact, and energy. It expires Sunday 6/23 since there's a special time-sensitive opportunity inside 👀. Grab it here.

2) 1:1 Career Coaching. High achievers who've lost their spark work with me to uncover work that lights them up & navigate big transitions with confidence. Unlock clarity on your path, a compelling personal brand, and a clear roadmap to attract aligned opportunities. If you're craving direction, accountability, and allll the good energy, grab a free Career Strategy Call.

3) Follow me on LinkedIn for daily advice on building your career and life on purpose ✨

P.S. Here I am graduating college with no clue I’d be building my own business 7 years later. Go Blue!

Feeling stuck? Ready for something more?

I'm Katy Culver, founder, coach, and startup operator.

I help growth-minded professionals get clarity and pivot to work they love. Join my newsletter to build your career by design and navigate transitions with confidence. Expect big ideas, tactical strategies, and seriously good vibes. You in?

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