188 Megabytes

All the papers, projects, PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets of three years in the University of Maryland part-time MBA program fits comes to just under 188 megabytes worth of files. Somehow I expected it to take up more space.

Regardless of the ultimate file size of all that work, my reason for getting an MBA was to gain enough knowledge to change careers. Even when I was getting my computer science degree (from 1992-1996), I figured I had maybe 10 years to write code full-time before I would want (or need) to do something else. The MBA as a degree takes plenty of flack from many angles. People with this degree take the blame for the dot-com bust. FedEx has a commercial that makes a joke at the expense of MBAs. There’s plenty to read in print and on the web about how the MBA is a waste of time. Speaking only for myself, the degree was worth it.

The degree got me my current job. Instead of writing code everyday, I manage projects (and the people assigned to them), their requirements, budgets and schedules. I still write code from time-to-time (more often lately since we’ve got a website launching this Friday), but I spend more time on design. Occasionally I’ll have to negotiate a software purchase or interview potential new hires. There’s too much to do for the job to become “routine”.

Could I do all this without an MBA? Sure. But the odds that a company where no one knows me would give me the chance to try all these things are pretty low. And without the prior exposure to topics like accounting, strategy, and negotiation, I wouldn’t be able to do my job as well. Beyond the things I learned in classes and the connections I made with classmates, I saw the MBA as a way to signal to potential employers that I was interested in more responsibility–that I wanted to become a decision-maker.

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