Thursday, August 11, 2005

Finding Contacts at a Company or Organization

For SCU MBA students and alumni, here are recommended steps for finding contacts at a company, whether they are needed for an MBA project, employment, new ventures, or anything else.

First, you'll need to build your network to gain access to contacts:
  1. Sign up with LinkedIn, the premier professional networking service.
  2. Join the Santa Clara University Life Long Network Yahoo! Group.
  3. Join the Santa Clara University Life Long Network's LinkedIn Group by clicking the LinkedIn Group link on the home page of the SCU LLN's Yahoo! Group.
  4. Follow the LinkedIn Tips to expand your reach within the LinkedIn network, so that you may find and contact a larger set of contacts.
  5. Join any other appropriate SCU MBA-related networks.
  6. For alumni: Register and fill in your profiles for the Santa Clara University Online Community and the Alumni Association inCircle Networking Community .

Once you've done the above, you're ready to start searching for contacts:

  1. Search LinkedIn.
  2. For alumni, search inCircle and the online community.
  3. Post a message to an appropriate SCU MBA-related network.

If you have any suggestions for improvements to the above processes, please let me know by posting a comment below.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Vintage Santa Clara XXII

Vintage Santa Clara XXII, the 22nd Annual Food and Wine Festival produced by the Santa Clara University Alumni Association, takes place on Sunday, September 11. Tickets are only $35 if purchased before August 31. I haven't been to this particular event, but if it's anything like Spartafest at San Jose State University used to be, it will be a lot of fun and a good bargain.

At Spartafest, the price of the ticket, which I think was $25, would buy you entrance to the event, a small plate, a wine glass, and unlimited samples of food and drink. Food and wine vendors set up tents offering various high quality samples. It all made for a gluttonous good time. I came when it opened for lunch, hung around, then had an early dinner.

I think my strategy will be the same for Vintage Santa Clara XXII: Come when the gates open at 1:30 p.m., then have an early dinner before the event closes down at 5:00 p.m.

Alas, Spartafest is no more. For some reason, the San Jose State University alumni association decided to focus on producing other alumni events. I'm glad Santa Clara University's Vintage Santa Clara is still running.

I hope to see other SCU MBA alumni I know at the event, and am looking forward to meeting other alumni. (Really, it's not all about filling my gut!) With the event taking place in Mission Gardens in September, it should be a very nice day.

Information about Vintage Santa Clara XXII.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Financial Cost of an MBA

An MBA can be a significant financial investment for many. The price tag for an MBA should be calculated by estimating the actual amount of money to be invested as well as opportunity costs.

Whether a student enters a full-time or a part-time program has financial ramifications.

If you get an MBA through a full-time program, you give up the income that could have been potentially made in a full-time job. However, full-time MBA students usually expect to obtain a substantially higher income upon graduation. Before deciding upon a full-time program, you could use a net present value analysis to compare the discounted cash flows of not going to school full-time vs. going to school full time. Of course, such an analysis is tricky, given that future income flows and the appropriate discount rate would be estimates.

If you earn an MBA through a part-time program, then you don't have to give up a full-time job. But there are other opportunity costs. One is the potential opportunity cost of earning a higher income faster by graduating sooner from a full-time program. Another potential opportunity cost is that of not being able to make as strong of connections with fellow students. In a full-time program, it is more likely that you'll be able to develop deeper relationships with your classmates. These relations could lead to future deal or career opportunities.

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit. I personally benefited from my employer paying the majority of my tuition, book, lab, and registration costs. I was reimbursed 100% for every "A" grade, and 90% for every "B" grade (regardless of plusses or minuses). If I had gotten any "C" grades, I would have gotten 70% reimbursed. In the end, I paid less than $1,000 of the more than $40,000 in total costs, thanks to my employer's employee education program.

If you can get your employer to pay for your tuition, then this can skew a financial analysis to make a part-time program look much more desireable than a full-time program. However, some employers will allow an employee to go to school full-time, provided they sign a contract to come back or else face a financial penalty. Also, some employers require that students sign a contract stating that they will work for the company a certain number of years after graduating or else face a financial penalty. This could dissuade a recent graduate from jumping to a new, higher paying job if the penalties for doing so are stiff enough.

Some programs make the decision to go full-time or part-time easy by only offering one program or the other. For schools that only advertise part-time programs, you may want to check to see if there is a full-time option by loading up on classes geared towards part-timers. A sizeable minority of students at Santa Clara University take this option, loading up on night and weekend classes.

Of course, future income will be partially dependent upon the program from which you graduate. A graduate of Stanford will most likely garner more opportunities for higher income than a graduate of a relatively obscure school. Most MBA programs post data regarding the average salary for thier graduates. Of course, this information should only be used as a very rough guide, since your results may vary.

These are just some of the things to look for when considering the costs of an MBA. Of course there are many other financial factors, and there are many non-financial factors which can and should influence your decision-making process.