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Getting an MBA

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Working & Careers > Getting an MBA


Career Change: From Teaching to MBA

April 2004

I am a music teacher, 25 years old, with strong math background for my undergrade education ( but not a math major)and graduated from UC Berkeley in 2001. Recently, I have been thinking changing my career from being a teacher to becoming a MBA student in a good business school.(It's not because I hate being a teacher; it's because it's not a very stable job when condiering about the income to survive.) I was also a math tutor when I was at school..I understand that applying for MBA not only needs great GMAT score but also great working experience. I am wondering if anyone there who was or is a MBA student actually came from being a teacher? Does teaching count as a good working experience if I am interested in emphasizing on either finance or accounting. Does being 25 years old is too old to switch to business field.(comparing some of my friends have already been working in big companyies for 2 to 3 years and with terrific business education background) Some people told me it's too hard to make it happen. Does anyone know a good way to build up my working experience besides teaching? For people who is interested in switching career like me, what would be a good first step to approach? I intend to take some courses through UC Berkeley extension from this summer, but besdies that, is there a good way to convince people (employers) believe that you have other skills than being a music teacher? any any advice would be great !! Thank you !! you could also e-mail me.. cindy


Great decision to be getting out of teaching. I know it is SO SAD, but the reality is that teachers in Calfironia have it the absolute worst in terms of pay and job security. I have a MAsters of Education and taught in Chicago for a coupl eof years before moving to the Bay Area. After two years of teaching in MArin County, I was totally broke by a $16,000 cut in salary and the tripling of the cost of living. I now work in business and the transition wasn't too hard. Being a teacher, you sell yourself every single day to the toughest group of all.... kids. You can do it! Without a doubt! anonymous
There is a wonderful career counselor in Albany who works with career change issues (and an incredible variety of other work-related concerns): Toni Littlestone, 528-2221. She has helped me (and several of my friends, also) with career transitions that seemed complex or even impossible at first. Also, she helps with job searches within a field, issues that come up within a job, work/life balance, etc. I can't recommend her highly enough--she has 20 years' experience and a great location off Solano. --Happy in my new field
25 too old? Maybe I didn't read that right. I didn't start business school until I was 29 and I didn't start law school until I was 30. I'm 41 now and have an MBA and a JD. It was the best decision I ever made (besides marrying my husband). I would do it again. 25 is young. In fact, you're only 3 years out of undergrad. Most really good business schools won't even accept anyone who doesn't have some real world experience (teaching or otherwise). Go for it if that's what you want to do. Whether you're 25, 35, or 45. -- 41 and young
I had been in the healthcare field (bedside nurse, critical care, burn, orthopedics) for about 15 years when I decided to go for an MBA. This decision was questioned by many of my colleagues (nurses with advanced nursing degrees [8 or more years of training] are often working as bedside nurses with earning potential equal to their 2-year-trained counterparts). Both the health care and education fields could (in my humble opinion) benefit from having better and more business sense, since the ''bean counters'' without clinical/classroom experience have been dictating the healthcare/education direction for some time. I am in an administrative (rather than clinical) position now, and continute to appreciate how my clinical experience influences how I run my department. In short, the MBA has, I think, enabled me to connect the clinical with the administrative arenas to the benefit of both the clinicians and the organization.

It seems, however, that you don't have a clear purpose as to why you're thinking about investing the time and money for an MBA. Once you have a clear goal for how you might want to apply it, the decision will likely become clearer for you, and you'll apply it to the advantage of the field you choose--or you'll choose not to go that direction. As you likely know, there are different foci for MBA's--mine is an Executive MBA (now available through UCB), which is more like an overview. If I were to do it over, I would go for a longer program and focus on management. You sound as if you might like a focus on finance.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck! RN turned bean counter


The median age of someone in biz school is typically in the late 20's, with most people being between their early 20's and early 40's. So being 25 or 26 is not too young. Biz schools generally like you to have at least some work experience under your belt, so 25 or 26 is about as young as anyone would be to typically get admitted.

The types of people who attend biz school come from all sorts of backgrounds and education. Economics, Marketing and Engineering are common, but in no way is that an all-inclusive list. In fact, having a music background might actually help in that you would probably be a unique applicant and might be desireable to biz schools in terms of student diversity. Also, you could say that you want to expand your business skills to be able to work in the entertainment field, of which music is a part of. A few cautions, however. Some people use an MBA as the means to change career fields (from teaching to finance, for example). Sometimes this works out great, sometimes not. Employers often will only hire finance MBA's who have had prior finance experience, which puts the ''career changers'' at a disadvantage. It would also be a bummer if you spent two years and a bunch of money getting a finance MBA and find out you don't like finance after all. Also, I believe if you already have experience in a particular field and you want to get an MBA to further yourself in that field, then an MBA can be very effective. You can then choose the school and coursework more tailored to your needs, and you'll be more personally invested in why you're back at school.

For your situation (wanting to go into finance), my recommendation is that you go out and find yourself a finance job now. Do it for 2 years, decide if you really like finance, as well as what field within finance. If you decide that you like it, then apply to MBA schools. You will then be more likely to benefit from biz school and be more marketable upon graduation. bob


Hi. I understand your dilemma about wanting to make a career change. However, getting an MBA probably isn't the best move to make. It costs a lot of $$$ and there are more MBA's out in the world than lawyers without jobs. At least that's my understanding of it.

If you are awake on sunday mornings at 11 am there is a great show on KALW called ''Work with Marty Nemko''. He has a career advice column in the Chronicle and his show is great. You may not agree with everything he has to say, but he has a ton of good ideas. His show is most famous for his 3 minute career makeovers. You call in and he helps you get on the path to what you really want. I am a huge fan of his, so I might be a bit biased. My younger sister was floundering in her career path and I suggested that she check out his book, ''Cool Careers For Dummies'' seeing as she lives in Columbus Ohio and can't tune into the radio show. She's now in beauty school and LOVES it. She is a fashionista, but she needed a way to make it work for her. By the way, she had a degree from the most prominent fashion schools in the world before going to beauty school. Her major was fashion merchandizing and marketing. She wasn't happy. Now she's estatic!

pMy point is we each have our own paths and passions and we have to find a way to make it work for our own individual personalities. It's a process and it takes some of us longer than others to figure out what it is we need to make the $$ we need and to be happy with our lives in/out of work. Beth


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this page was last updated: Oct 3, 2004


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