A Master’s…. is it worth it? How to calculate the value…

I am staying with friends this week.  Getting away and working from a different place with a prettier view is always a great way to refresh the mind.  This was my view this morning, as I went for a walk before it became too hot!

Last night we were talking about my friend’s son, who has just obtained a First Class Honours degree in accounting and finance, from a good red brick university in the UK, and he now wants to go on and do a Master’s at LSE or MIT.  I do not think this is a wise move.  WHY?

He believes that he will get value from the brand reputation of a more well-known establishment.  He is not wrong, but it comes at a huge price.  Somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 in fees and living costs, not to mention the “opportunity cost” of yet another year of not earning a salary!

I believe that he should be being more creative about how to penetrate the job market.  He wants to work in M&A at a leading investment bank.  Despite his great extra curricular experience, as well as frequent holiday job competencies, this will never happen directly, as he does not have the right “old school tie”, unfortunately.  So, will this be helped by an MSc in Finance from MIT?  Possibly…  but, honestly, probably not.

So, what are the options?  How about applying for a back office job in a bank, where the competition is less based on elitist attitudes and networks?  How about trying to work in M&A consulting at a big four firm?  Or indeed working in the Finance department of an acquisitive company, and experiencing a merger or two directly from the inside?  All of these are starting blocks from which it is possible to develop.

Careers very seldom do this:

And are much more likely to look like this:




If Andy plays his cards right, he can work from this Fall, with a well paid, interesting job linked to M&A, learn a lot, and, if he still wants to venture into investment banking M&A, he will be able to argue experience, rather than the MIT brand name, and be more likely to be taken seriously.

Are you considering a Master’s degree?  What value do you hope it will bring you?  And should you be aiming for that straight line in your career?  Please let me know what you think!  I read all emails…

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