ForumWatch: MBA Careers With Work-Life Balance

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on July 21, 2011

People often decide to pursue full-time MBA programs to change careers. But many of them are actually already burned out before they get to business school. Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum member yellosno began a discussion about post-MBA career opportunities for those who have a family and don’t want to spend every moment of their lives at work.

This forum member happens to have a background in accounting and is looking for finance-related jobs that will give him at least enough time to socialize once a week and occasionally have dinners at home with his wife. Others chimed in with similar desires. And there was even some interesting advice about MBA career paths that could make yellosno’s wishes come true.

MBAs have long been considered workaholics looking for the biggest payday. But these days, especially with the influx of Millennials into b-school, things are changing. Business school administrators have long said that more of today’s MBAs want to find jobs that pay well but are also meaningful or give them the chance to make a difference. Since they realize all work and no play can make for a dull life and a bad marriage, many of them are seeking flexible schedules or at least better work-life balance.

Any suggestions for yellosno about post-MBA careers with better work-life balance? Share your thoughts at the “MBA career path w/ decent balance?” discussion thread.

—by Francesca Di Meglio

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of a series about discussions taking place in the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum where prospective MBA program applicants, current students, and recent alumni trade admissions tips, job-hunting advice, and the occasional barbed comment. We invite you to join these discussions or start one of your own.

Reader Comments

Robyn Young

July 25, 2011 2:11 AM

Work/Life balance should be about the choices you make not the job you have. I have come to this position following research, education and consulting in this field for many years. I believe one of the most important things to understand about looking for work/life balance is that it is somthing individuals need to take responsibility for themselves. Looking for a job that is going to give you work/life balance is not a solution to the balance challenges people face. Firstly in my business we encourage individuals to think about life balance as opposed to work/life balance because rather than viewing work as the counter balance to life it is more productive to think of it as the facilitator of many of the things we would like to do in life. In order to make this shift in thinking people also have to take back the responsibility for making some choices that give them what they perceive as better for their balance. If we rely on the organisation to make the policies and design jobs to give better balance then those policies reasonably will suit the organisation's perception of what gives balance. In our business we encourage people to manage their own balance. Most people have an understanding of what they want to do they just aren't sure about how to get there. We have designed a program that guides individuals in managing their life balance so they are able to feel more in control irrespective of the job they have. That way they can take the skills of managing balance wherever they work. Robyn Young (

MBA Balance

August 3, 2011 9:06 PM

The comment above is spot on, and of particular importance for MBA’s given the nature of what business school promises through its marketing of guaranteed post-graduation salaries and automatically respectable positions at the world’s most exclusive corporations.

So many MBA’s pursue a rigorous program to ensure a steady and lucrative paycheck while being gainfully employed in the world of business with less risk than starting their own company. With the lesser risk in getting a relatively high return through a fixed salary if not also a bonus, something has to give. And that something comes in the form of a certain indentured labor that often goes against the natural accommodation of other parts of life’s necessities, such as family, health, recreation or sleep.

When you do in fact find that job that grants you more freedom and control over your time, you may have found that work life balance you were looking for, but likely will have traded off some compensation and other perks. This would seem to have solved the problem, except that by the very nature of their having gone to a top MBA program and being reminded that they “deserve” to get paid more since their classmates are, many are not able to be content for too long in their “balanced” job.

So they may begin to lose balance again, unhappy with their career, not so much in the yearning for freedom as before, but in the yearning for their cake and to eat it too. A job will not bring that sense of balance to an MBA. Rather, living a life where they always own their choices, and manage how they view success on their own terms, not someone else’s, will help them find balance in any career.

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