Is An MBA Worth It? Why I Chose Praxis.

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Is an MBA worth it?

There I was sitting in my cubicle at the General Motors Innovation Center. I was being told that I was being transferred. I had been in my position for almost four years, and management thought it was a good idea to make the change. They were transferring me to a team that was having a hard time staffing up. 

Naturally, it would make my manager look good if he could send someone over there. The new team worked 24-hours a day utilizing two 12-hour shifts. Seven in the morning until seven at night. And then Seven at night until seven in the morning. Over the course of the year, everyone was required to work the night shift at some point.

I wanted to vomit. This sounded awful. I had no other alternatives. I quit four weeks later. Is an MBA worth it? It seemed like it, but I don’t think it is.

Working For GM

When I graduated with my master’s degree from Central Michigan University before that I got my bachelor’s degree at Hillsdale College, I had a generous offer from General Motors. I was done with schooling

I grew up in Michigan. I had fulfilled the Michigan dream. Go to a Michigan college then graduate and work for one of the big three automotive companies. If you got hired, you’d be set for life. They paid generously, and all you had to do was wait to retire.

The truth is the dream sucks. I was a cog in the machine with little control over my life. Stuck in a broken system.

“You’re doing great! In ten years with an MBA degree, you could become a manager.”- My Former Boss

The quote above still haunts me to this day. I was going hard for the first year. Getting there early learning all that I could. I really tried. Then my boss dropped that line on me during my yearly review, “You’re doing great! In ten years with an MBA degree, you could become a manager.” 

That was the first time I died inside while working at GM. The last time being the news of the transfer.

But that’s the culture at a lot of corporations. Especially corporations with a union legacy. It’s all about paying your dues. It’s a class system where people who went to business school and MBA programs moved up the ranks Doing good work is secondary. Maybe even tertiary, office politics is important too.

Having to wait ten years before I got to management killed my motivation. I now realized why you never saw “go-getters” at GM. I slunk back into my chair and became a cog collecting a generous paycheck.

The Trap

The generous paycheck is how they get you. After three years of being a cog, I was making six-figures at the ripe old age of twenty-six. I was overpaid and under-motivated. It was miserable. But if I wanted to leave, I’d have to take a substantial pay cut. That’s the trap.

Yes, you’re unhappy. But do you want to make $30k less?

That’s a hard question to answer on the inside. Especially if it’s all you know. You have to give up working for a prestigious company. You’ll probably disappoint your parents. You’re set for life, and you’re throwing it all away.

Quitting was totally worth it.

My advice is to break out of the trap, or even better, avoid the trap altogether. It’s not a career path, it’s a career trap. Where recruiters drag you down and borderline enslave you.

Is an MBA Worth It?

The day I quit my job. One person came up to me and wished me the best. Other’s viewed me as a traitor or didn’t care at all. I was fine with it. My spirit had long been crushed.

What was the next step though? I didn’t want to be trapped again.

My first instinct was to go to business school and get a Master of Business Administration otherwise known as an MBA degree. I have a decent resume and It would only require me to take some standardized tests(GMAC or GMAT), and I could likely get into a top business school. Probably not Wharton or Stanford, but certainly not one of the b-schools that are littered all over the United States.

The problem is these programs take about two years if you do them full time. Tuition is about $50k a year. And don’t forget this doesn’t include the opportunity cost of giving up two solid years of work. The cost is high. Part-time the degree can take up to six years depending now which school of business you went to.

And the return on investment for MBA graduates? A six-figure job at a corporation. Probably working in healthcare or maybe even a worse a nonprofit.

It would have been a more prestigious title but likely the same situation I had just left. I left my job, but I had not left the system. Plus I already had a graduate degree.

The System

I’m a master of the system. I have been through it and I got good at it. The system is simple: you start off going to public school and doing well so that you can get a bachelor’s degree. Because clearly, you’re better than people who can’t get a bachelor’s degree. 

In college you do well, so you can go to graduate school. Because clearly, you’re better than people who can’t get into graduate school. After graduate school, you go get a job. I didn’t get a Ph.D. Because clearly, I was not better than those people.

At the job you get higher compensation and a better position because you showed that you’re clearly better than all these other people. Then after 5-10 years of working you go for a full-time MBA program, get your business education, and get your MBA degree. Because you’re clearly better than people who can’t get an average MBA.

It’s an expensive life-consuming way to demonstrate your value. And it’s incredibly inefficient. Instead of demonstrating your value through results/profits. You show it by taking out student loans and suffering through decades of schooling.

It’s an insidious system. Career goals are just milestones to get more debt. Time is the most precious of commodities. The higher education system robs you of your present with classes and your future with loans.

Praxis

Luckily, I had made friends with Chuck Grimmett. At the time he worked for Praxis and it was a way out of the system.

Praxis markets itself as a college alternative. Prospective students go through a rigorous enrollment process. Essays and video interviews. But once you’re in you go through a 6-month boot-camp and then a 6-month paid apprenticeship with a startup and business leaders. It provides many of the benefits of an advanced degree.

The nice thing about Praxis is the money you make at your apprenticeship is more than the cost of tuition. It’s a year-long program and at the end of it, you’ll have work experience, a positive bank account balance, and a new mindset. The average starting salary is usually north of $50k.

Since Praxis is marketed as a college alternative, I was not the ideal candidate. Here’s a company geared towards getting entrepreneurship-minded nineteen-year-olds with no degree hired at startups. And I walk up at the ripe old age of 27 with two college degrees and considering getting a third executive MBA. 

From the rumblings I heard, there were some questions about letting me in. Praxis has had a few other older college-educated students in the past, and it hadn’t gone great. But I had had some side projects in the past, and this was evidence that maybe I wasn’t an entitled corporate robot.

Frankly, I understand the trepidation. The college system trains and brainwashes you. The system brainwashes you into thinking that because you have degrees, you’re clearly better than people who don’t. This is obviously not true and incredibly arrogant. The system also leads to some amount of entitlement.

The other issue with the system is that it teaches you to be good at an irrelevant skill: school.

I got good at school. I was particularly good at guessing which essay questions the professors would choose to put on the test. While this helped me in school. It has been absolutely useless in pretty much any other endeavor. The real-world tests you, but it doesn’t give you a written test. And essay tests are a sorry substitute for the tests of life.

Mindset

Changing my mindset was why I joined Praxis. 

I knew the system. I was raised in it. I also knew I hated the system. Praxis taught me an alternative. I didn’t have to take an online MBA program to change careers. I just had to take Praxis’ online coursework. 

Through Praxis I set up this website. I created projects. I updated my LinkedIn to work for me. I learned it’s about demonstrating value. Real value. Not “I suffered through two years of graduate school” value. But the type of value that makes a company look at you and know you’ll be a good investment. MBA grads can’t really say that because as MBA students it’s not certain you’ll create and demonstrate value.

Praxis was my way out of the system, and it wasn’t easy. I had so much to unlearn. one of the first Praxis assignments was to create a value proposition on why you’re valuable. It was a practice in selling yourself. I struggled mightily because I knew I couldn’t reference my degrees. And quite frankly, I would still struggle with this. You don’t erase 12 years of public school, 4 years of college, 2 years of graduate work, and 3 years in a corporation overnight.

But it started me on the path forward. I’m happier for having gone through Praxis. I’m happier for having gotten out of the system.

The Present

Praxis taught me the skills you need to know to take control of your life. By getting overpriced certificates and throwing your resume into the pile, you put your life in the hands of others. 

It’s about sales and marketing. You need to sell yourself. If you can sell yourself you can get the job you want, not the one you fall into.

If you have the skills and can demonstrate value to relieve a pain point, you can sell yourself to a future hiring manager of your choosing.

Because of Praxis I am learning to sell myself and control my life.

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