She learned that most companies wanted an M.B.A., so she headed to the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. Even so, "design consulting is such a hard industry to get into that [it] would be a stroke of luck just to have a real interview," says Israel, 28, who graduates in May.
In the meantime, she's going to take her design background into a marketing job—"also a great fit for my passions and skills"—where she can add the exposure to business that she thinks she'll need to potentially get into consulting. She'll be making nearly three times what she made at the landscape architecture gig working at Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster.
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Experts caution that opting to go for an M.B.A. should be a return-on-investment decision, not one based on net present value. In other words, focus on whether the move will get you where you want to go in the long run.
"The costs and risks are too high to enter business school for the purpose of 'finding what I want to do next.' That planning process needs to be done before applying," says Rice. It doesn't take an M.B.A. to know that planning is good business.
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