If you’re considering splashing out on an MBA, the length of the program should be at the forefront of your mind. A two-year MBA allows you to better specialize, network, and explore a wider range of career activities, says Nico Van Den Brink, director of MBA career services at IESE Business School in Spain.
“There is more time for networking, exposure to companies, the student-led events, case competitions, and then of course the summer internship,” he says, adding: “In a one-year MBA you just don’t have time.”
But don’t take Nico’s word for it. Ben Vroegop is an even bigger advocate of the two-year format. He used his MBA at IESE to land a job at Deloitte in San Francisco’s Bay Area. He first spent a summer there as an intern, exploring Silicon Valley’s finest fintech businesses.
Below, Ben runs the rule over the two-year format.
What are the benefits of a two-year MBA over a one-year program?
Firstly, it gave me a better chance to get exposure to different academic courses. There were plenty of topics (marketing, private equity, corporate strategy), that I had absolutely no exposure to, and the extended time allowed me to follow my interests.
Secondly, knowing that I wanted to change careers, I wanted to have additional time to ensure that I ended up in a role that I enjoyed and had a chance to be successful in. The process of self-reflection and finalizing those thoughts took significant amounts of time. This fact, combined with the opportunity for an internship, strongly swayed me in the direction of a two-year program.
There are obviously some downsides to a two-year MBA compared to a one-year program (additional schooling costs, opportunity costs of employment), but for me, it still made more sense to get a two-year MBA.
Is that why you opted for IESE Business School? What else was attractive about the program?
The two-year aspect was definitely a factor. When I thought about what I wanted for my life, three things kept popping up: living abroad for a significant period of time, strengthening my fluency in a second language, and earning an advanced degree. Deciding to go to IESE provided me with a huge opportunity to work toward all three of those goals, and definitely put me outside of my comfort zone.
There were a number of other attractive factors of IESE, such as the international diversity, a collaborative team environment, and challenging coursework.
The variety of experiences available within the IESE community, as well as the relatively small class size, ensure that there is a good resource for anything you might need. But the personality of the student body is what really set it apart.
Finally, I was looking for a school with strong academics, where I would be challenged daily. In this, IESE definitely excelled. Teaching almost exclusively through the case method gave me exposure to more than 700 business situations from around the world. Case discussions required you to pay attention and think on your feet constantly, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
How have you benefitted from your internship with Deloitte in San Francisco?
I had exposure to fintech companies, both in the Bay Area and internationally. I analyzed the differences in business model, technical details, and how these companies might partner with or affect established players in the financial services industry. The work was entirely different to my professional experience before then.
It provided a chance for me to test the waters of consulting, to see if it might be a viable long-term path for me. Between interactions with start-ups and established players, I was able to round out my soft skills and presentation abilities.
How did the MBA help you switch geographies, industries, and functions — a “triple jump”?
Using the MBA to become a stronger, more desirable candidate, and having a coherent story of why you want a specific job, are powerful tools to make that jump.
One of the benefits I found is the exposure to different career possibilities simply through talking to classmates about their pre-MBA work. They are a fantastic resource to confirm/reject what you might want to do post-MBA, and can often put you in contact with people on the inside.
What advice do you have for MBAs hoping to pull off a “triple-jump”?
Have a plan, but be realistic. For me, making the switch from engineering in a manufacturing company on the east coast to consulting in San Francisco was feasible, but transitioning to an analyst’s role in a hedge fund in Hong Kong would be more unlikely.
Tied to this, I would recommend talking with people to figure out how to excel. Having an internship in the industry you’re interested in can be super helpful in this aspect.
You also need to be able to clearly articulate why this next step makes sense for you AND the employer. Doing the “triple-jump”, you can be a riskier hire than someone with prior experience, but being able to show why you’re a great candidate should make the jump easier.
What will you do upon graduation from the MBA?
I will return to Deloitte Strategy & Operations Consulting in San Francisco this fall. My wife and I are excited to be returning to the Bay Area, and I’m happy to be continuing my career in consulting.