London calling...

A Taiwanese woman's journal of her pursuit of an MBA, a meaningful life, love and her observations of the world along the way! Blogger based in Taipei.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Time for more soul searching...

The past weekend has been a thought-provoking one for me. To start with, my relationship with a long-time friend seems to have changed since we have become colleagues. The possibility of our friendship getting sour did cross my mind for a few seconds when I was considering working with him, but I was too confident to prevent it from happening. The change caught me off guard though as we only worked together for 1.5 months. Maybe it is a sign for me to work hard on my people skill or, find something else.

Meanwhile, on the Dutch queen's day party last Friday night, I accidentally bumped into an acquaintance who offered me a job about a year ago. That opportunity fell through in the end but the network remains. Delighted to see me, J.D. invited me for a drink after the boring party. We first went to an Irish bar for a drink but ran away from it ten minutes later as we practically had to shout in order to hear each other. So we retreated to the bistro next door while I gladly shared my plans about an MBA, how I think it'll increase my international mobility and where I plan to go from there in terms of personal and professional lives. We got to the bar at about 10:30 pm and closed it at 1:30 am.

You probably think that I had a blast. Well, the drinking part was alright but the conversation with J.D. last Friday night was the single most depressing one I've ever had. Despite my enthusiasm and excitement, J.D. simply felt that an MBA is a waste of my time given my capability. He argued that if I were determined enough to put together EURO 30,000 ~ 50,000 for an MBA in the US or Europe, I would be better off to stay in Asia, spot a hole in the current business environment and start my own business. While J.D. could argue whatever he wants, what bothered me the most was my own response - for a few moments that night, I wasn't so sure about my plans anymore. And that blankness told me that I still have some serious thinking to do.

By the way, I would be appreciative if any reader can share with me his or her own experience of increased international mobility post MBA. By that I mean whether the MBA has enabled you to start a career in a different part of the world as you choose to. Until next time...

Jen @ humid and warm Taipei.


Anonymous Suzy said...

Tough one. I believe there are no real 'right' or 'wrong' paths in life if you choose between good options. But only you can make that decision. Wishing you a lot of wisdom!

PS happy belated queen's day!

8:37 PM, May 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It depends on what you can make now. You probably know this but a lot of people get MBAs because they hit career ceilings--all the investment banker analysts that do their two years and don't make it to third year, same with consultants, same with people in many other two to three year entry level stints--all that the MBA does for you is give you the credibility to come back and get in at one higher level. So MBA school in one sense is school for failures--those that couldn't just move up and had to go back to school in order to make it to the next rung (which isn't all that high after you come out).

If you're good, you possibly don't need MBA. The benefits are 1) it's fun 2) it'll give you a bit more of a reputation to get your foot in the door 3) you meet a lot of people. I would recommend reading more success and failure stories of what people really did coming out of school and try to think if the school actually was what helped.

10:10 PM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger mbayisyen said...

I am going through the same issues these days as I might have a job opportunity that I thought I only would have after the MBA. However this would mean staying put where I am (I do like where I live despite the limited opportunities).
Its'an extremely confusing situation.I feel I already made a lot of connections jsut going through the MBA process.
Good luck!

10:33 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Thanks Suzy. I think the Queen's Day in NL is more fun. I certainly would love to celebrate it in Holland than in Taiwan as the atmospheres are very different.

11:53 AM, May 02, 2006  
Blogger Walter Chung said...

A degree is something you earn and retain for a lifetime. Any advanced degree you earn is something you should be proud of.

Whether you need an MBA to get to where you want to go is a question only you can answer. However, in my opinion, an MBA opens doors and opportunities from employers that you would not be able to do on your own and without the degree. Being bilingual, which obviously you are, will no doubt bring you more opportunities that could involve travel. Without an MBA, you need to open your own doors yourself and find your own opportunities. In other words, you need to have a very big entrepreneurial spirit and be willing to risk more. However, if you succeed in your goal, because you risked more to get there, you will cherish it more.

Some people don't need a degree to succeed. Take for example, Bill Gates and Michael Dell, both college drop outs. These guys obviously had the tools and entrepreneurial skills to succeed. School wouldn't have added much to their skill sets. So, maybe the test is - do you feel you have all the tools to succeed in what you want to do in the business world vs. do you think you can learn something useful from a MBA program. In other words, it is a classic cost benefit analysis. The money you are willing spend on a MBA degree, if you were to invest it in yourself to start a business, would you be better off in the long run.

Lastly, in considering going to get a MBA, there is one intangible that school will bring you - new friends and business contacts for life. Your fellow students, people you would never have met, but for school, will be an invaluable source for business and networking as you find your place in the world.

1:29 AM, May 05, 2006  
Anonymous Bryan said...

I myself ask the same questions as you right now. I am stuck in a career I don't really like, and even when I try to get work in my field, but in another industry (software development in marketing, for example), I get turned away due to lack of business knowledge.

Is an MBA worth 30,000 to 50,000 euros? I think that depends completely on the student. You get a chance to study again, as well as meet a lot of new people. You also get to go to a new place, have new experiences, and probably change your viewpoint on life in general. That alone might be worth spending the money.

It might or might not help you get a job, but I guess the experience might be worth it alone.

8:42 AM, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Thanks all for your invaluable advices and analysis. I have regained my faith and am still in the race of MBA application. Will get to the crucial part of the game soon, i.e. the dreadful GMAT.

6:57 PM, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Michael Turton said...

Good luck! I think you are making the right choice. With an MBA not only will you make valuable contacts as others said, but you will always have fallback careers like teaching, if you find you don't like business, or going on for PHD if you find that you enjoy the life of the mind when you are a little older. Plus, there is no substitute for knowing more about the world.


8:03 PM, May 08, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...


"The life of the mind", sounds really appealing to me. I remember the joke that you said that day about the intensity of life on this island, that Taiwan sucks people in. But seriously, a lot of times I feel this intensity tires me out. Really don't mind following the life style of Henry David Thoreau for a year or two...

11:58 AM, May 09, 2006  
Blogger angie said...

Working with friends can indeed be tough! The worst project I ever did was one with a woman I liked very much privately but I got to know the bad sites once I worked with her. People can be completely different in work settings.

Have you decided yet which bschool you're attending?

12:48 AM, May 26, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Hi Angel,

Indeed! I neglected the possibility that people can be completely different at work prior to making the decision to switch my career. Now I have to pull myself out from the mess but it doesn't seem that easy...

I have been reviewing schools lately and found Cranfield is actually not a bad choice, considering its location close to London. Apart from solving the dilemma of working with a friend (somehow I don't feel the friendship is there anymore), I am planning to sign up to Princeton Review and tackle the GMAT once and for all.

Am keeping my figers crossed cos I really need some luck lately...

12:00 PM, May 26, 2006  

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