The MBA Bet: >11,866.62

by Mark Wong on August 3, 2011 · 5 comments

in Career,MBA

Yesterday the market closed at 11,866.62, after our lawmakers decided to put a gun to head of the American economy during the debt ceiling crisis. The market has been down sharply the past few days and just slipped under the 12,000 mark. In a lot of ways, I feel like our economy – I experienced a big crash towards the end of the decade, I’ve been beaten and bruised for the past few years while trying to recover, external parties have made important decisions on my behalf, I’m currently nervous and uncertain about my future, but I’m hoping make a comeback in the next few years.

The bet that I’ve referred to is the bet that essentially every MBA admit is making on the economy – that when we enlist in our post graduate MBA jobs, the Dow will be higher than it is today. And when I say higher, it realistically needs to be significantly higher. Now obviously that’s a simple way to put it. The most important economic place-markers actually occur during the months before you get hired. This is when finance departments across the world are budgeting or updating their forecasts for summer interns and new hires. For people graduating this school year, this is when the foundation of their salaries is determined.

Perfect Timing. Thanks Congress.

When I originally decided to take on the MBA bet, we had just come off the worst economic recession in history. “Well, that’s never going to happen again,” I thought “I mean, things can only go up from here, right?” If the debt ceiling crisis and the resulting economic fallout were any indicator, we are certainly not out of the woods yet. If two years from now, or even a year from now, the Dow has not moved up significantly, the graduating salaries of my class and thus the overall value proposition of getting an MBA will be diminished. Were the Dow to take a huge drop, I likely would have been better off switching jobs today and waiting things out, rather than going into $100,000 of debt.

At the end of the day, you really can’t time the market. And while political dysfunction and looming economic recessions are fun to track, the honest truth is that these outside factors played very little into my decision to get an MBA. This year was the time for “me” to go to back to school based on “my” career progression. And while I wasn’t trying to time the market, I have definitely picked up the dice and tossed them forward – whether I graduate in a booming stable economy or another economic recession will be dependent mostly on luck. I’ve picked this day as my personal milestone because we’ve just passed (hopefully) the debt ceiling crisis and I’m nearing my last day at work. In two years, I’ll come back and look at this post with either a great sense of triumph or a feeling of futile sadness.

With that, there’s really not much more to say other than: “All-in on >11,866.62.”

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