Ian HooperMy undergrad degree was in music, and post-graduation I went into teaching and performing as a career.  A desire to move abroad and experience a different culture eventually led me to Taiwan, where I lived for two and a half years.  Upon returning to the states, I pursued yet another passion of mine: food.  I would end up working in the food industry for the next four years before finally leaving my job to pursue an MBA at UW-Madison.

My decision to get an MBA didn’t just happen overnight; it was the culmination of careful thinking and thoughtful analysis of all my options.  I knew that I wanted to go into marketing, but I wasn’t entirely sure about the best way to do it.  Should I get an MS degree?  Maybe just a second bachelor’s degree in marketing? How about a certificate program? Or, how about an MBA? Do people with backgrounds like mine even get MBA degrees? These were all questions that I had to answer, and I began my decision process by scrutinizing each one of these options.  Eventually, an MBA came out as the clear winner, for a couple of key reasons.

Leadership Symposium Team TableCareer Switching
I quickly learned that an MBA allows people from a variety of different backgrounds to switch careers.  Did you get your bachelor’s degree in history, spend the last couple years doing non-profit work, and now want to become an investment banker? No problem, an MBA can open that door for you, provided you work hard. I consider my background about as non-traditional as they come, yet I’ve already landed an awesome marketing internship for the summer because I’m part of a stellar MBA program. I’ve met people in my program who have come from all sorts of backgrounds, yet they are all now highly desired by top companies because of the education they are receiving.  

Breadth of Education
I didn’t come from a business background, but I do have a desire to work in the business world. An MBA provides the quickest way to become fluent in the language of business because of the wide variety of topics students are exposed to.  I’ve already taken classes in accounting, finance, operations, and marketing, which are all subjects that I got no exposure to in undergrad.  Even though I’m not even done my first semester, I feel more comfortable than ever being part of the business world.  At this point, I can look at a wide variety of business problems and be confident about the best way to go about tackling them.

Career Advancement and Salary
An MBA will allow you to advance to a senior management position a lot faster than most MS degrees will.  Along with this comes a much higher starting salary than most other graduate level programs.  For instance, the starting salary of an MBA graduate here at UW-Madison in over $107,000 annually (with an over 90% employment rate within 3 months of graduation, to boot). The thought of spending two years furthering my education to earn a six-figure salary was, for me, a no-brainer. 

There was more to my decision to pursue an MBA than just these key-points, of course.  Nonetheless, I feel they are very important ones and truly deserve consideration by anyone who is thinking about graduate school.  I could talk about why I chose UW-Madison, and specifically the A.C. Nielsen Center, but I’ll save that for another article 😊.