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The Zero Dollar MBA

Looking to move up to management but lacking the funds or time to pursue an MBA? Young workers who are looking to gain leadership experience do have options that don’t come with a $30,000 a year tuition bill,according to Josh Kaufman, the blogger behind The Personal MBA. Besides offering a business reading list for you to study outside the classroom, Kaufman suggests two main routes for the ambitious to beef up their resume:

  • Find an organization or non-profit you like and volunteer to lead. Hiring managers love to hear about community leadership experience, and if getting a new job is your goal, stepping up to lead in your community gives you plenty of things to talk about during the interview process.
  • Start your own side project, then recruit and lead a team of volunteers, or an outsourced virtual team, to get things done. You can find people to help from all sorts of places –- schools, interns from colleges or universities, or volunteers you find online. You can also hire a virtual team to help you with pretty much anything. (Look at services such as AskSunday, Virtual Assistance and TimeSvr.)

Of course there is plenty of value in an MBA (though exactly how much is up for debate) and running a project for your local charity is unlikely to give you the same depth of knowledge (or connections). But with a price tag of roughly zero dollars, it’s hard to argue that these ways to gain management cred don’t offer value for money.

(Image of volunteer sign by timparkinson, CC 2.0)

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