Juno’s MBA Series aims to bring transparency to the MBA application process. In this series, we’ll interview MBA students about their paths and decision-making process.
Choosing MIT Sloan
After gaining some on-the-job experience in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela, Sebastian came to the United States to get his MBA. Completing a degree in a different country comes with its own challenges, but adding the stress and uncertainty of COVID-19 added a whole new layer of unpredictability. Despite the pandemic and all its limitations, he has been able to enjoy his MBA experience at MIT Sloan and appreciate his role as part of a larger program.
Before making the final decision on an MBA program, Sebastian applied to some of the top business schools in the United States. Going into the application process, he was definitely aware that there would be some upfront costs. Fortunately, he received substantial scholarships from MIT, Columbia, and Darden. In the end, even if the other schools had offered him more scholarship money, Sebastian saw MIT Sloan as the only place to get his MBA.
For Sebastian, the name recognition associated with MIT Sloan did play a role in his decision-making process. While he doesn’t expect to return to Venezuela in the near future, he did understand that MIT had more of a global brand, which could help him secure positions outside of the United States if and when he chose to leave the US.
Also, he was looking for an urban experience and Boston could deliver. “If you go to Venezuela … everyone will know about MIT Sloan. I also wanted more of a city experience. Instead of a campus that has a city dedicated to the university, I wanted a university that’s within a city, like Boston and Cambridge.” For him, choosing a school involved more than considering curriculum and job prospects, but also considering his ideal lifestyle.
Paying for an MBA at MIT Sloan
As mentioned before, Sebastian was fortunate enough to receive partial scholarships from some prominent programs, but he was still responsible for covering most of the cost. He was also able to receive funds from family members but is actively working to earn money through internships to pay towards his degree.
Sebastian had many professionally and financially lucrative internship options. Since the salaries for these internships were the same across the board, he was able to choose the opportunity that best aligned with his professional interests and goals. This summer, he will spend 10 weeks working for a Wall Street Bank and learning more about regulations, getting his foot in the door, and becoming more of a participant in the markets.
While Sebastian recognizes that he is in a position of relative abundance, he would also be willing to invest in an MBA at MIT Sloan if it means taking out loans. “I think it’s almost smart to borrow. It’s advisable. I feel an MBA helps you get ahead, it allows you to jumpstart, especially if you’re international. If you’re [in America,] you’re pivoting and that’s it. You got into your MBA and you’re advancing your career, you’re pivoting. I see it as much more of an advanced step for international students.”
Perhaps one unexpected cost of Sebastian’s MBA experience at MIT Sloan has been consumer debt. With a robust program comes plenty of opportunities and it is tempting to seize them all and worry about the cost later. “it’s very easy to fall into this trap of ‘the MBA is the best two years of your life.’ That ‘you’ve got to take advantage of it, pay for it, go for it, go to that goal.’ The trap: ‘do that, do this.” While Sebastian has been able to travel the country and enjoy all sorts of new experiences, it isn’t a totally sustainable way of spending money. As a result, his MBA experience has been more expensive than earning his business degree.
At the same time, he recognizes that the first few years after his MIT Sloan MBA experience will be full of long hours and little free time. That is why many people claim that the MBA is the best two years of their life. However, Sebastian has a different take on the experience, “I feel super fulfilled, but I don’t feel that these are going to be the best two years of my life. I compare it to my three months in Vietnam where I was not spending, I was literally living in a Buddhist temple, eating vegan for lunch and dinner. That experience has been more life-changing than the MBA has been so far, and for me.” While Sebastian is certainly enjoying his experience, he is also keeping it in perspective and not giving in to the pressure to make these his best years.
An Insider’s Advice to MBA Students
The two years spent earning an MBA are a time of abundance. Students have access to academic resources and job, travel, and networking opportunities. Sebastian dove in head first, but quickly came to realize that he might have to handle his finances better.
While Sebastian has been fortunate to have his educational expenses covered by scholarships, internship earnings, and family funds, he still recognizes that an MBA at MIT Sloan, or anywhere, is a worthwhile investment. Even the prospect of taking on consumer debt is worth it in the long run if it means traveling and getting the most out of his MBA experience. Ultimately, his education at MIT Sloan will open up professional opportunities that will quickly make up for the time and cost of pursuing an advanced degree.