Planning on taking up a part-time job? Read this first - Varun Reddy
There have been many
articles written over the course of the last decade discussing the pros and cons of pursuing a part-time MBA programme from a premier B-school. However, there seems to be little, if not nothing, written about the merits and
demerits of taking up a part-time job while doing a full-time MBA course.
There are some who will speak in favour of a part-time job for MBA students, especially for those studying outside India. One of the most common reasons given in favour of a part-time job is that the job exposure one gains in a corporate environment (even in a part-time job in a call centre or a movie theatre) from working in the real world is far more enriching and practical in nature than that gained from any management book one will come across. Also, paying for one’s own education is not a new thing, at least not outside India. Instead of taking partial/complete loans (depending on one’s financial condition), a part-time job would give one a chance to get out of the shadows of parental support and lead an independent life. It would also make one realise the value of money!
Most colleges that
offer full-time MBA courses have clear rules regarding taking up a part-time job while pursuing the course. Stanford's full-time MBA programme clearly states that one should not expect to work while enrolled in this programme due to the heavy academic workload and commitment expected from students. In foreign countries, this would depend on the visa given to the student while entering the country for pursuing an education. Holders of a student visa (with a work permit) are usually permitted to work for up to 10-20 hours a week during the session and full time during vacations. The money that one earns might come in handy as additional pocket money. It would also depend on how your programme is structured. Your part-time work must also be scheduled such that it does not conflict with your classes, coursework, team meetings, and other academics, career search and school-related events.
Some students make things easier by
continuing to work on a consulting basis for their former employer. For example, those with prior experience in IT product development might want to contribute to certain projects during their studies in order to keep themselves in tune with industry requirements, and also gain valuable CV points.
It might also matter for your placements in case you get a part-time job that relates to the field you are aiming for. However, such cases are rare and far between though. It is possible for someone to work 1-2 days a week by proper scheduling of classes, especially if it is something you enjoy doing, or if it is something that can give your mind a break. But taking on extra workload in the form of a part-time job does take a toll on the student as they are expected to manage their time very carefully, while making sure that their grades do not drop while doing so.
TOO MUCh ON YOUR PLATE
However, the dominant view among most MBA students (especially those in India) is that there's more than enough school-related stuff to do in a MBA course and that there simply isn't enough time to fit in a job. You are merely a human being, and you have just 24 hours in a day to fiddle around with! Of course it is not impossible to do a part-time job while pursuing your MBA. However, this would mean you might have to sacrifice some of the benefits of going to a B-school in the first place!
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Before going any further, I would like to reflect upon the reasons why one pursues a MBA in the first place. It is clearly not just for the knowledge that one gains in a B-school – you can gain the exact same knowledge by reading a book on the same topics and listening to video podcasts of various lectures offered by some universities. It’s certainly not for the raw business skills – which can be developed and honed by reading books during your day-to-day work, although it would be better and far more enriching to learn the same from a
From an Indian point-of-view, the MBA is all about the prestige - especially when done from a top-tier school. Some people will pay more attention to you and your opinions (I say that from personal experience) just because of your degree, which does help with career advancement. But the biggest advantage of a MBA from a top-tier institute is the network that it opens you to! A B-school is the best place to make friends with people who will be able to help you later on.
In one of my earlier articles titled ‘The MBA Survival Guide’, I had mentioned that getting a MBA degree is quite easy – it’s making full use of the whole MBA experience that puts many of us on the back-foot. Doing an MBA is not just about what you study in your classroom. By doing part-time work during your MBA, you will inevitably miss out on a lot of the intangibles that come with being a full-time student. The money you earn and save in your part-time job will very rarely, if ever, compensate for the missed opportunities of meeting your classmates outside your classrooms, organising the college fest, networking with your seniors, relaxing from a hectic schedule by partying, putting in extra effort towards your placements etc.
If you do want to work and pursue the MBA, then check out part-time MBA programmes that are offered by various reputable institutes. There are also institutes that offer full-time programmes in Business Management, with paid on-the-job training running alongside the course. Such programmes offer a hands-on approach to learners in their chosen profession and an opportunity to work with the best in industry. However, there are still very few institutes that offer such
In conclusion, I would like to say that a
person pursues an MBA degree for a career-shift, or for better career prospects, or for both. If you have to work because of certain financial constraints, and have no other choice, then do it. But if you don’t need to work, then do avoid it. Why complicate one’s life further by adding the extra element of a part-time job? After all, you have your entire life ahead to work and slog it out in the corporate world. Meanwhile, just enjoy your two years of
B-school while you can!
— The author is an alumnus of IIM Lucknow and works as a Deputy Manager in a reputed PSU