The honest answer is – “it depends”! It depends on what alternative do you have right after graduation. And it depends on how much clarity do you already have about your career path. Remember, if you don’t know the destination, any road can take you there. However, once you know your professional destination, you will understand that an MBA is indispensible.
Let us take an example. Suppose you want a career in Finance and you land a sales job with one of the leading banks. Should you take it up? What knowledge will you acquire and what relevant experience will you gain by doing sales, when your true calling is in Finance? If you decide to pursue MBA with specialization in Finance, these two years of sales will not contribute anything to your profile. The bitter truth is that only a fortunate few get to do anything significant in the first 2-3 years of work after graduation. So, all you can plan for is to get relevant experience under your belt. If what you are doing is not significant and not relevant, you will be much better off pursuing MBA right away.
Though going to a b-school as a fresher will be great from a networking and learning perspective, you may not be able to contribute (to class discussions) as much as others. Someone with a few years of experience is more likely to give realistic examples and case studies. Understanding workplace dynamics is an important element in management courses. The salary for laterals (those who have more than 2 years of work experience) is generally 25 per cent higher than for fresh graduates. They are usually hired by companies in verticals similar to ones they had worked in earlier.
The curious case of India
In India, unlike in the developed countries, the hiring companies (for MBA) tend to favor the freshers (those with less than a year of work experience) over those with more than two years of work experience. Most top B-schools of India, till a few years ago, were dominated by freshers, except a few such as the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, where work experience has always been a prerequisite. These B-schools have now started admitting a greater percentage of experienced students, however, the majority still comprises of freshers. On the demand side (students), the explanation for this lies in the paucity of enough or right work opportunities immediately after graduation. On the supply side (the hiring companies), the explanation is (arguably) in the belief that the freshers will be more willing to put in extra hours and move across cities than those with work-ex.
To sum it up, I recommend this three-step guide: 1) Even before you graduate, find out what kind of career you want for yourself. 2) Try to get “relevant” work experience for your chosen career. 3) Go for MBA with the relevant work experience.
If you cannot get relevant work experience; skip step 2 and go for MBA straight away!