Dear Mentor:

Am I on the right track to be a US high-tech entrepreneur?

Currently I am studying in Electronic + Telecommunication Engineering. Born in USA, thus citizen of USA, I migrated to India almost 11 years back. I wish to do a double Master's in Business Management and Telecommunications Engineering or Information Tech. I would like to know following. Is my career path correct for my goal to be hitech entrepreneur in USA? I would like to find out which Universities offer dual degrees, and how many semesters are required for this programme? As a US citizen, with last residence in California, what kind of scholarship, grant, student aid, student loans will be available? How soon I should start my admission and scholarship procedure?
My personality is outgoing. I am very good at studies. My family background is small business. Kindly guide me with your personal advice, suggestions, changes required for future goal. If you can give detail answer to my email with your address for future guidance I will really appreciate it.

Indian-American, India

Dear Indian-American:

There is no single right path to becoming a hi-tech entrepreneur. The path you have outlined is a path that can get you there. There are many other paths as well, which you may wish to consider. At the end, your ability to become a successful hi-tech entrepreneur is something you will have to develop yourself.

The question does arise: How much knowledge and experience do you need in technology and business management? We have seen highly successful hi-tech entrepreneurs who have knowledge and experience in both technology and business management, in technology only, or in business management only. Thus your knowledge in technology may already be sufficient, but that of course depends on the type of business you wish to start. You have acquired the technology knowledge through formal education, but you have yet to apply this knowledge in the workplace. Your ability to apply the acquired knowledge must also be developed. Education alone - that is, the acquisition of knowledge - may not be sufficient.

Our view is that you probably already have enough knowledge of technology. You need to learn to apply that knowledge. You also need to gain business management knowledge, most appropriately through formal education. To gain the business management knowledge, we recommend pursuing an MBA in the US, since you wish to establish yourself in the US. However, most top-tier schools give preference to those applicants who have had 2-4 years of work experience. We would recommend doing an MBA from a top-tier school only.

As you can see from our preceding discussion, we recommend that you find employment for the next 2-4 years, during which you must demonstrate a pattern of success in progressively challenging work assignments. Since you wish to become an entrepreneur in the US, we recommend gaining the work experience here in the US, as opposed to in India. This would set up favorably for getting admitted into a top-tier school. We are, of course, assuming that your academic performance thus far has been superior. Please visit an earlier Dear Mentor answer to learn how you can improve your chances of getting into a top-tier MBA program.

Given our answer above, the answers to the remainder of your questions may be academic. Nonetheless, we shall address them. Most US universities offer dual degrees at the Master's level. They are too many to list. Please visit the iMahal Education Section on the Business Schools in the US to do further research. Similarly, you can visit the iMahal Education Section on Engineering Colleges. The duration of the dual degree programs depends on the school and the program.

Being a US citizen, you are eligible for all financial aid options at the federal level and for the scholarships offered by most entities, including your prospective school. Depending on your residency status in the state in which you pursue your further education, you may or may not be eligible for state financial aid options. The laws vary across states. However, your prospective school would make every effort to put together a financial aid package for you. You do not need to apply directly to the state (independently of the school) for financial aid.

The admission process begins almost one year in advance of the start date. For example, the first deadline for full-time MBA programs is typically November 1 for a start in the following fall. However the admissions process continues through the month of April for the fall entry in the same year.

The job market for an MBA with an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering (there is no Electronic Engineering in the US) is extremely good at this time, and it is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.

We wish you a successful entrepreneurial career.

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