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5/22/14

There has been a lot of recent discussion on these forums as well as in the media regarding the value of an MBA. As a longtime member of the community and someone who recently made the decision to pursue an MBA, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

You can see my full background story here: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-i-got-in...

In summary, I went to a relatively unknown undergrad in New England where I received a degree in MIS. I went on to do two years of investment banking at an MM doing sell-side M&A. I then did two years of MM leveraged buyouts in a pre-MBA role before switching to a competitive MM leveraged buyouts shop in a partner track role (post-MBA role with no MBA).

Despite the fact that I am on a partner track without having an MBA, I made the choice to pursue b-school. I'll have six years of experience when I matriculate this fall. I am very happy in my current job and will likely pursue very similar opportunities upon graduating. I won't be receiving any employer sponsorship nor have I been guaranteed a position when I graduate. I'll be attending one of the M7 schools (not H/S/W - they all rejected me).

First of all, I don't think an MBA makes sense for everyone. It ultimately comes down to a combination of career path, adversity to risk, financial situation, geography, etc. There is no one-size fits all formula; you'll need to decide for yourself if it is a good fit for you. There is also no hard and fast line for which MBA programs are worth it and which ones are not. For some people, only Harvard/Stanford/Wharton are worth it. For others, a top 50 program could be the boost they need to get on the right track. Ignore any discussion where people try to value an individual school without regard to the applicant's individual circumstances.

Many people cite the cost of an MBA, combined with the opportunity cost, as the single biggest reason that it is "not worth it." For me, the cost was never a consideration, though the total cost of attending will likely exceed seven figures (opportunity cost included). I like to believe that I have very modest expenses in life relative to my income. I don't enjoy expensive dinners, don't drink more than a few drinks when I go out, and I have no interest in a fancy car/boat/yacht. I've saved all of my annual bonuses without ever having to pass up an opportunity due to money. For me, the biggest inhibitor of maximizing my happiness has always been a lack of time, not money.

Wealth alone doesn't bring happiness; it just enables us to afford experiences and things that make us happy. While the cost of an MBA is very high, I view it as an opportunity to have unforgettable experiences while I'm young without negatively impacting my career. Without including the five vacations (week+ long) that I've taken in the nearly six years I've been working, I haven't had more than two straight weeks off since high school! This summer I will take advantage of my nearly three months off before school to build my language skills in Latin America, explore cities in Europe I've never been to, and visit friends and family in the U.S. that I haven't spent time with in years since I live in a different city. And the best part is that employers won't view it as a "hole in my employment history" as it is generally accepted to take time off before starting an MBA program. I don't think I will have another opportunity like this for the rest of my career unless I lose my job or retire.

Money aside, I also place a lot of value the learning aspect of business school. Given I have an MIS degree, everything I know about finance has been learned on the job. While I am rapidly reaching the point where intricate accounting / finance knowledge is not required to be successful in my job, I do encounter situations where I have no idea what my CFO is trying to explain to me. Things such as utilizing standard costing come intuitively to my peers who studied accounting, but require extra effort for me to understand. There is also a whole world of finance that I have never been exposed to (derivatives, hedging, heck the entire stock market) that I feel will improve my ability to perform my job. This is an often overlooked part of business school that I think people should take into consideration when thinking about applying.

Even if you completely negate the learning aspect of an MBA, the intangibles alone are reason enough for me to get an MBA. These intangibles come in many forms: (1) credibility, (2) network, (3) executive presence, (4) risk mitigation, and (5) option value.

Credibility

The combination of attending undergrad at a university few on Wall Street have heard of and working at small institutions, there is nothing in my bio that gives me credibility. Sure, I can eventually earn respect through performance and results, but often times a lack of credibility can prevent my ever being given that shot. I'm constantly meeting with people that judge my credibility. Current and prospective executives of investments, bankers, lenders, and down the line when I am more senior, limited partners. For me and many others, attending a top tier MBA will enable me to gain this credibility.

Network

This is the one intangible benefit of an MBA program that people latch onto, and rightfully so. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen senior professionals tap into their alumni network to learn more about a particularly industry, transaction, or opportunity. Furthermore, if you're looking to change jobs, having a network of people that are willing to take your call and assist you is invaluable.

Executive Presence

The vast majority of junior professionals lack the ability to articulate their thoughts in a structured, cohesive, and concise manor. Their opinions are often discounted or ignored due to this fact alone. When someone delivers an opinion with confidence and conviction, they come across and knowledgeable and intelligent. B-school is an opportunity for people to develop this soft skill through frequent interactions with others when there is no pre-determined seniority. Executive presence is not only valuable on the job, but one of the defining characteristics of leadership.

Risk Mitigation

Things change in life, particularly in the financial services industry. Private Equity appears to be contracting as many established firms are unsuccessful fundraising. I work at a relatively small firm where the departure or incapacitation of a couple individuals could force us to wind up the fund. There are many factors outside of my control that could force me to find a new job despite how well I perform. Opportunities are few and far between at the post-MBA level and I would be at a serious disadvantage without one. I have yet to read a job description for a PE professional that didn't state "top-tier MBA required" or at least "preferred." I view the MBA as risk mitigation in the event that I find myself in such a situation.

Option Value

Many people go into MBA programs after only three to five years on the job. Usually they've only worked in one type of job their whole career, be it M&A, consulting, logistics, you name it. These career paths often build a very specific skillset and do not give you exposure to alternative career paths. While I've had the good fortune of getting exposure to a wide variety of companies, I don't know the first thing about product management, marketing, etc. An MBA gives you broad exposure to and dare I say a rough skillset in each of these categories. This exposure will not only bolster my ability to work in PE but also widen my options through developing a broad skillset in the event PE doesn't work out.

Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

I like to believe that I am a pretty self-aware individual. My thoughts have continued to evolve as I've progressed through my career and I recognize that they will continue to change. I'm not entirely sure if I will feel the same way about obtaining an MBA after completing the program or even ten years from now. What I do know is that the window to gain acceptance to top programs is very narrow and it is "now or never." The majority of applicants that are admitted to the top programs are in their twenties and 2-6 years into their career (broadly - most seem to be 3-5 years). I will likely never have the same opportunities available to me in the future if I postpone the decision. That is one risk that I'm not willing to take.

Comments (165)

In reply to rogersterling59
Best Response
1/18/13

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.

CompBanker

Accepted.com
1/18/13

Very well said, CompBanker.

"The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don't know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired." - Michael Lewis

1/18/13

SBed before even reading it...

1/18/13

You are my hero. I want to be you in 6-7 years.

"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Check out my blog!

1/18/13

+1 for excellence. I can relate to much of this minus the successful career part since I graduated in May. Working on that one though!

Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

1/18/13

agreed. about to start my 3rd quarter.

1/18/13

+1

I hope this means you have more time to post on WSO. Your insight never falls short of efficacious.

1/18/13

Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

1/18/13

CompBanker:

Wealth alone doesn't bring happiness; it just enables us to afford experiences and things that make us happy.

+1 on this

1/18/13

Great article - very well written and logical.

Except for one thing. If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the presitige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.

In reply to rogersterling59
1/18/13

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

Basically part-time recruiting is the same as full time recruiting in that you get similar companies...You're invited to the same on-campus information sessions. However, full time students get first priority and some companies look very specifically for full timers.

You basically have to be very pro-active in your job search in part time recruiting. The careers office isn't very helpful and tends to see you as a second class citizen. They'll prioritize the needs of the recruiter over yours instead of trying to "help" you the way the full time students get. Its doable to get the same offers as the full timers but you have to make an extra effort to find your own opportunities.

1/18/13

instant classic, thanks comp!

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1/18/13

+1; Great post!

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

1/18/13

Ditto. All of the reasons why I would go back to b-school, even after having had success in the financial services industry.

Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis - when I was dead broke man I couldn't picture this

In reply to valiant7002
1/18/13

valiant7002:
If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the prestige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.


Your question makes a very large assumption; that I work long hours and therefore don't have much free time. This was certainly true when I was an investment banking analyst and partially as a pre-mba associate. Now, I realistically work about 50 hours a week. Unless we have a deal under LOI, I'm not working weekends and I've only had dinner at the office once. The thing that eats up most of my time is work travel, which admittedly is at least every other week. There are very few other jobs out there that would significantly reduce my hours at the office and none that would do so at the same level of compensation.

As for the work, I genuinely do enjoy some of the work I do. I enjoy learning new things, particularly how things work. A significant element of my job is to learn as much as I possibly can when evaluating investment opportunities. While there are certainly mundane elements of the job and not every company is exciting, I've been able to learn about hundreds of different companies and industries just six years into my career. There are very, very few career paths that give this sort of exposure.

I also like a lot of the people that I work with. I've purposely made "culture" and "fit" my number 1 & 2 criteria when looking at job opportunities. I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?

CompBanker

1/18/13

Awesome viewpoint. It goes to show: while you can find a lot of advice and insight on these boards--evaluate your own situation! There is no silver bullet for success! Have patience, make moves for the right decisions, and keep your head on your shoulders. Thanks CompBanker!

1/18/13

well done. +1. you and I could be friends compbanker. good luck

1/18/13

Instant classic. Thank you for sharing your rationale. I too like to live the simpler life and often eschew expensive/fancy things, so I've been thinking a lot lately about work-life balance post-MBA (I'm still applying/interviewing). I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that money is nothing except a conduit to pursue the experiences (not things) that make us happy. Hopefully we'll end up at the same place as I'd love to attend school with someone with such a down-to-earth perspective.

1/18/13

CompBanker:
Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

Real talk. Literally millions of ways to make a buck. Knowing and understanding that and knowing and understanding what truly makes you happy will set you up for a good life.

1/18/13
In reply to CompBanker
1/18/13

CompBanker:
valiant7002:
If you value your time far more than your money, why are you on this career path? Does the prestige of an elite job and high pay make you feel good? Do you simply love the work itself?

I'm not asking to be critical, but because it's an issue I struggle with personally.


Your question makes a very large assumption; that I work long hours and therefore don't have much free time. This was certainly true when I was an investment banking analyst and partially as a pre-mba associate. Now, I realistically work about 50 hours a week. Unless we have a deal under LOI, I'm not working weekends and I've only had dinner at the office once. The thing that eats up most of my time is work travel, which admittedly is at least every other week. There are very few other jobs out there that would significantly reduce my hours at the office and none that would do so at the same level of compensation.

As for the work, I genuinely do enjoy some of the work I do. I enjoy learning new things, particularly how things work. A significant element of my job is to learn as much as I possibly can when evaluating investment opportunities. While there are certainly mundane elements of the job and not every company is exciting, I've been able to learn about hundreds of different companies and industries just six years into my career. There are very, very few career paths that give this sort of exposure.

I also like a lot of the people that I work with. I've purposely made "culture" and "fit" my number 1 & 2 criteria when looking at job opportunities. I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?

Can you please tell me where you work? I'm also trying to get away from the NYC atmosphere (been doing banking for two years now). PM is totally fine if you do not want to share publicly.

People tend to think life is a race with other people. They don't realize that every moment they spend sprinting towards the finish line is a moment they lose permanently, and a moment closer to their death.

1/18/13

Amazing story! How much are accounting principles used in PE and IB though? I'd never have thought standard costing etc would be relevant to a banker

1/18/13

Great write up. I definitely agree with having its efficacy evaluated on a case by case basis. Personally, short of hitting a career plateau where the MBA would be paid for and a job waiting on the other side, or having my ~300k held in escrow to be returned within 6 months of graduation if no job was found- I wouldn't do it. But again, that's just a personal choice and I certainly understand why people would feel otherwise. I'm not really into career roulette and the MBA is the biggest spin of that wheel I can think of. Also, I have ZERO interest in climbing a corporate ladder and would much rather start a business as a "end goal" (which is much easier with that money still in pocket, and certainly doesn't require an MBA). Anyway, best of luck to you.

I will now depart with a quote: "The (insert top MBA) guys have mad swagger. They frequently wear their class jackets to (insert city) bars, strutting and acting like they own the joint. They just ooze success, confidence, swagger, basically attributes of alpha males."

1/18/13

CompBanker:
Some people tell me I'm crazy; that I may come out of business school with a worse job than before. The reality is that there are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. I see it every day. Some guy starts designing pet t-shirts in his garage and within five years he is making $10mm a year profit. Every single product you consume was manufactured somewhere, distributed by someone else, whose systems are managed by a third party that uses software developed by another group. The opportunities are ENDLESS to either improve on existing business models or even create a whole new market yourself. The key is to develop your knowledge/skills as much as possible and be willing to take a risk.

I liked this paragraph. I'm not even close to being as experienced as you, but I think a big problem with a lot of the finance guys I see aspiring to make that kind of money is that they become overly attached to their PE gigs. Going off to B-school because it's something you want to do and knowing that you may not get back into PE shows that you have the versatility and risk appetite on top of six years of strong experience.

"Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

In reply to CompBanker
1/18/13

CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

1/18/13

Very well written with meaningful and personal wisdom sprinkled in. Good luck in B-school!

"Don't let making a living prevent you from making a life."

John R. Wooden

Accepted.com
1/18/13

From my point of view, it seems that you have carefully considered your options and chosen the opportunity that suits you best. This was a well written article and well thought out decision. Congrats and good luck!

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1/18/13

Great insight. I'm definitely re-reading this when I'm at that point!

The hills are alive with the sound of horsepower! - Jeremy Clarkson

In reply to inkybinky
1/18/13

inkybinky:
CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

If you don't mind me asking- what do you do that allows you to do school part time? I'm considering this option as well (to get the "branding" as fast as possible), but am unsure what sort of profession would actually allow you the time to do this.

1/18/13

Thanks for the great post CompBanker!

I was wondering if anyone has insight on the value of an MBA outside of high finance (PE/HF/IBD). Is an MBA much more valuable for those looking to move up in corporate finance for instance as it is a prerequisite to reach the VP level? Or are most of the guys moving up the ladder doing evening MBAs and less emphasis is placed on the prestige of the institution?

1/18/13

Great post. Thanks!

1/18/13

This post raises a more general question in my mind. Why on earth is a "gap" on your resume such a scary thing for potential employers? Are we really enmeshed in that much of a mind-numbed machine that if you decide to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and actually look around people think you are tainted goods regardless of the rest of your resume's strength? "Oh you decided to travel to Europe for a few months, learn a programming language, and ice climb in Chile after doing 5 years in elite finance? And you decided to do it all by yourself without some institution telling you it was ok and charging you $200K for the privilege? Ha! Good luck pal."

Seems bizarre to me when I really think about it.

1/18/13

Your outlook is ridiculously similar to mine.

Question-- as for taking off time before going for MBA, how much time can you do? Is taking a year off conceivable? For example, I want to do something like hike the AT, which takes 6 months.

In reply to inkybinky
1/18/13

inkybinky:
CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

Inkybinky, I'm going off what I learned from my research as well as speaking to people currently enrolled in part-time programs (small sample size). I will certainly agree with you that the part-time program takes some serious work ethic and dedication. One of the reasons I opted out of applying is because the combination of working full time and taking classes in a different city (which would have been the case) was not appealing to me.

inkybinky:
employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

I disagree with this statement. This situation is quite different. Students that attend full-time programs may be unemployed, but most of them left jobs on purpose to attend the program. The school's admissions process serves as the screening tool to ensure that these people are high caliber. So essentially the school is offering up a qualified pool of people that need jobs, but don't currently have them. That is very different than a job applicant who is unemployed because they were fired or quit without any alternative.

CompBanker

In reply to labanker
1/18/13

labanker:
This post raises a more general question in my mind. Why on earth is a "gap" on your resume such a scary thing for potential employers? Are we really enmeshed in that much of a mind-numbed machine that if you decide to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and actually look around people think you are tainted goods regardless of the rest of your resume's strength? "

...yes.

In reply to CompBanker
1/18/13

CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.

Thanks for the reply. However, I have one question about the credibility. I know that they are easier to get into, but why should that make them less "credible"? I feel like they might be easier to get into because far less people apply for the part-time, and far less people are willing to do nights/weekends on top of work. If you have the same faculty and same courses in both situations, why would one experience be more credible than the other?

I would agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

1/18/13

after reading this i may have to change my vote for monkey/member of the year

1/18/13

Thank you for your reply. Your job sounds incredible.

1/18/13

In addition to your list I would like to add: things you can learn from your fellows: as you've said most of them are experts in their field. So if you do have some kind of marketing class, why not learn from someone who has been in this profession for several years with substantial knwoledge?

CompBanker:
Could you give us a brief (or detailled) story of your application? Why do you think that M7 school took you and what do you think are they looking for?

Thank you very much!

1/18/13

I hope this works out for you well Compbanker. I remember you mentioning an interest gaining more experience abroad(dating girls from overseas; general lack of foreign exposure in MM PE). Respect for expanding your horizons. You'll definitely be a more interesting guy coming back.

I'm actually in the reverse situation (spent quite some time traveling/living/working overseas, now working on my professional credentials back in the States), so if you have any questions re: maximizing your time overseas and making the most of those three months, PM it up. Best of luck.

1/18/13

Compbanker,

Given the research you have done, would you consider two years of reputable experience to be not enough prior to b school?

Thanks,

Paul

1/18/13

Great post. My personal view has recently been that MBAs are for people that want to APPEAR like they know something (very important for investment bankers, consultants, investors, corporate executives, or people that world in a capacity where the results of their efforts or quality of their advice cannot be judged empirically). It has been my preference to focus on producing, not on merely trying to impress people. The true value of the MBA is that most in the business world believe whatever they are told when the reality is that the emperor has no cloths.

1/19/13

Congratulations for your acceptance to one of the top schools, and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this issue.

1/19/13

Almost everybody I know in bschool loves it and wouldn't trade their time there for anything in the world. Life is a collection of experiences, not a number in a bank account -- sounds like you're doing it for the right reasons, have a blast

In reply to fleetersamuelli
1/19/13

fleetersamuelli:
Great post. My personal view has recently been that MBAs are for people that want to APPEAR like they know something (very important for investment bankers, consultants, investors, corporate executives, or people that world in a capacity where the results of their efforts or quality of their advice cannot be judged empirically). It has been my preference to focus on producing, not on merely trying to impress people. The true value of the MBA is that most in the business world believe whatever they are told when the reality is that the emperor has no cloths.

I think this can be applied to any sort of branding of pedigree. Sad, but true. Time to prestige whore it up!

1/19/13

@CompBanker:

What about the age of the applicant when applying to B-School? What I'm trying to say is you mentioned that B-School prefer people with 3-5 years of experience -- most people graduate college at 22, so that would make them roughly 25-28 years old.

But what about people who started college at a later age due to varying circumstances. I mean graduating college at 24, and then working for 5 years, which would make such applicants 29-30. How do B-School consider age vs. work experience?

1/19/13

Awesome post and awesome follow-up answer to the questions raised in the discussion!

1/19/13

CompBanker, awesome thread. Thank you so much for all that you do for WSO.

In reply to rogersterling59
1/19/13
1/19/13

another great post compbanker. thanks for helping shape my career path and a more level-headed worldview.

Capitalist

1/19/13

People tend to rationalize their behaviour to hide the fact that it's still largely driven by emotion.
So the tldr version of your post probably is: 'I don't care about the costs, I just need a break for a legit reason'.
Nothing wrong with it, I can relate.

The Auto Show

1/19/13

Great post. This goes to show that there really is no "right" answer for decisions to be made. The MBA is right for some, not for others. Ultimately, what you produce and what other will exchange for it is the only arbitrator of success.

1/20/13

Great post, incredibly concise and well written. You replied in the comments that "you are still in this job because of the opportunity to learn a lot about a lot of industries" - this resonates too well with my own thinking. Looks like I'm on the right path.
I'll be interested in knowing about your time at the b-school and how things turn out when you graduate. All the best.

Read my blog: Bateman Begins

1/21/13

Awesome post - I too love the part about endless business opportunities

1/21/13

Congrats on the acceptance CompBanker. Great post, will definitely keep in mind.

MM IB -> Corporate Development

1/21/13

Congrats and thanks for all the great advice you have provided over the years. What do you think was the major reason for the H/S/W result? Even if you are a stellar candidate, those schools just seem to be a black box. Thanks.

1/21/13

Fantastic post - extremely well articulated and full of insight! Congrats on the acceptance!!

1/22/13

Great post and well written. I applaud you and support you in expanding your macro look at the (business) world. Your education, as mine, will help in any direction you choose to pursue.

1/22/13

OP - Are you married? Real question. Just wondering how understanding the wife was (if appropriate) when discussing going back to school. In my experience, my friends who want to go back to b-school to "live the best 2 years of their life" are usually single.

1/22/13

Congrats man. I like it when people make well thought out decisions like you did.

In reply to Poff
1/22/13

Poff:
OP - Are you married? Real question. Just wondering how understanding the wife was (if appropriate) when discussing going back to school. In my experience, my friends who want to go back to b-school to "live the best 2 years of their life" are usually single.
No, but I know a ton of applicants, current students, and past students who are married. It is very common. I would imagine that most people who attend the top programs are very career oriented and it probably wouldn't be the first time they've needed to make a career decision that impacted the relationship in a material way.

CompBanker

In reply to Gunga Galoonga Looper
1/22/13

Gunga Galoonga Looper:
Congrats and thanks for all the great advice you have provided over the years. What do you think was the major reason for the H/S/W result? Even if you are a stellar candidate, those schools just seem to be a black box. Thanks.
Honestly, I couldn't tell you. Competition is fierce at the top programs and all I could possibly do is "guess." I've heard too many conflicting stories to draw any definitive conclusions. Everything from people getting rejected at the M7 but into HBS; no interview at the M7 but into Wharton; waitlisted at Wharton and then later accepted with a large scholarship, etc.

CompBanker

In reply to mongoose
1/22/13

JamesHetfield:
@CompBanker:

What about the age of the applicant when applying to B-School? What I'm trying to say is you mentioned that B-School prefer people with 3-5 years of experience -- most people graduate college at 22, so that would make them roughly 25-28 years old.

But what about people who started college at a later age due to varying circumstances. I mean graduating college at 24, and then working for 5 years, which would make such applicants 29-30. How do B-School consider age vs. work experience?

I'm really not an expert on b-school admissions, so I'm not the best person to answer this (lots of admissions consultants on these forums that will give a more informed response). My understanding is that your age is less important than where you stand in your career trajectory. If you can make a compelling case as to why an MBA makes sense in that stage of your career, your age becomes less important. Given you're talking about a mere two year difference and the "gap" occurred pre-college, I wouldn't be overly concerned in your particular circumstance.

CompBanker

In reply to PaulOwen
1/22/13

PaulOwen:
Compbanker,

Given the research you have done, would you consider two years of reputable experience to be not enough prior to b school?

Thanks,

Paul

Impossible to answer this question in a vacuum. It ultimately comes down to the quality of the experience combined with your career objectives and a hundred other smaller factors. For me, it would have been a huge mistake to attend b-school with only two years of work experience (which was banking for me). I definitely would have struggled to get as much out of the experience as I suspect I will get with six years under my belt. Everyone's situation is unique though.

CompBanker

1/22/13

insightful post

1/22/13

" I've avoided the NYC atmosphere where big egos and rude behavior is commonplace. Our office culture is truly fun and laid back, yet we still manage to produce good returns and make a ton of money. Imagine that?"

From your lips to God's ears.

1/23/13

Another great contribution Comp. Glad I checked in to see what's happening on WSO. As many other members have stated, much of what you wrote really rang true for me.

Now back to my applications, lol.

Regards

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant, it's just that they know so much that isn't so."
- Ronald Reagan

In reply to Culcet
1/23/13

Culcet:
inkybinky:
CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

If you don't mind me asking- what do you do that allows you to do school part time? I'm considering this option as well (to get the "branding" as fast as possible), but am unsure what sort of profession would actually allow you the time to do this.


I'm on the buy-side (pension), which I imagine is more easy-going than anything IB. Student in my classes work full-time in a variety of professions and don't seem to have time management problems. We have a number of engineers, people in health care, Big 4 accounting, bankers (from a variety of backgrounds like real estate, retail, high net worth, etc...). I can't think of any students currently working in IB, but I do know of some who have come from there and some who have job offers.

I actually see quality part-time programs (i.e. not necessarily Booth, but not Phoenix, either) as more "serious" than full-time programs. The academic credentials of full-timers tends to be better. Those students tend to have higher GMAT scores, better undergrad GPAs from better schools, etc... But I suspect that people with better jobs tend to go into part-time programs because the opportunity cost of full-time programs makes them uneconomical. That's how it was with me and many of my part-time classmates, anyway. Quitting a job that pays more than the average MBA graduate in the hopes of getting another job down the line that pays as well is just stupid.

Maybe I'm just biased, but I think part-time programs make more sense. An MBA isn't challenging enough to be a full-time deal and it's actually pretty helpful for your career to apply what you learn there to your full-time job on an ongoing basis.

In reply to inkybinky
1/23/13

inkybinky:
Culcet:
inkybinky:
CompBanker:
rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?


Yes, briefly. My company would prefer that I continue working and attend a part-time program on the weekend. After looking into it, I decided that it isn't for me. Many of the driving factors for me to attend b-school (travel opportunities, networking, interaction with others) would no longer be possible if I went to the part-time program.

To answer your second question: The purpose of the part-time programs is for people to attend while continuing to work. As such, you aren't expected to be looking for a job and prospective employers aren't going to give you the same consideration because you're already employed. If your company is paying for it, you'll be locked up for the next two to three years anyways. Also, it is generally known that the part-time programs are easier to get into and therefore don't offer the same degree of credibility that the full-time programs do.


I agree with all of the intangible reasons you listed above, but I disagree with your assessment of part-time programs, in part. Yes, they are easier to get into than the corresponding full-time programs. GMAT scores at Booth are about 30-40 points lower in the part-time than full-time program.

However, it doesn't make much sense to say that employers won't give part-time students the same consideration (at least those who aren't locked into a tuition agreement). Employers *always* prefer already-employed candidates far more than they do the unemployed. It would be no different here.

In fact, it takes considerablly more time management skills, responsibility, organization, and dedication to complete a part-time program in a reasonable amount of time while working full-time (even more so while enrolled in the CFA curriculum as I am). That actually signals a higher level of competence and work ethic. It's just plain harder.

If you don't mind me asking- what do you do that allows you to do school part time? I'm considering this option as well (to get the "branding" as fast as possible), but am unsure what sort of profession would actually allow you the time to do this.


I'm on the buy-side (pension), which I imagine is more easy-going than anything IB. Student in my classes work full-time in a variety of professions and don't seem to have time management problems. We have a number of engineers, people in health care, Big 4 accounting, bankers (from a variety of backgrounds like real estate, retail, high net worth, etc...). I can't think of any students currently working in IB, but I do know of some who have come from there and some who have job offers.

I actually see quality part-time programs (i.e. not necessarily Booth, but not Phoenix, either) as more "serious" than full-time programs. The academic credentials of full-timers tends to be better. Those students tend to have higher GMAT scores, better undergrad GPAs from better schools, etc... But I suspect that people with better jobs tend to go into part-time programs because the opportunity cost of full-time programs makes them uneconomical. That's how it was with me and many of my part-time classmates, anyway. Quitting a job that pays more than the average MBA graduate in the hopes of getting another job down the line that pays as well is just stupid.

Maybe I'm just biased, but I think part-time programs make more sense. An MBA isn't challenging enough to be a full-time deal and it's actually pretty helpful for your career to apply what you learn there to your full-time job on an ongoing basis.

Thanks.

I can't speak to which of the two has better students, though to me, a part-time MBA just makes more sense because you still get the branding without the foregone income and time. I'd rather buy a house. People often cite a number of intangible factors you get from the on-campus experience:

1) Network: I get it, in-person networking trumps anything online. But is it worth the money? Not really sure. You're still part of the same organization at the end of the day. I mean is there anything forbidding you from contacting alumni of the full-time school?

2) Socializing: to me, the social aspect of business school reminds me slightly of college, except without the mystique and gravitas because people are there to ultimately get jobs, not intellectual enrichment. Some are also married. Brady makes it sound like a gigantic orgy, but I'm pretty sure a lot of the English teachers I know in Asia have a better life than the b-school students I summered with back in banking. Nah

3) Lack of OCR: At worst I feel that this will be like breaking into an SA from a target... which is very difficult, but not impossible if you know from Day 1 what you're trying to do (I've done it).

4) "Gap Time": The ability to travel in a "vocationally expedient" matter is a fair reason if not because most Americans don't have a passport, haven't been outside the States, and are slowly and indirectly dragging down the country for it. But business school for this? Comeon, there are so many other ways (Fulbright, Rotary, Blakemore, etc.) No one will blame you for taking a Fulbright. Really.

The only reason why I would consider any post-graduate schooling whatsoever is because of the intangible "prestige factor' to it. Yes, I know I sound like a whore, but having a brand name attached to you does open doors socially. This is more of a pride thing than anything.

If anyone has anything to say to the contrary, please enlighten me. I like Compbanker and support whatever decisions he makes, but I'm really not sold on the full-time MBA experience.

1/24/13

Great write-up, very informative.

1/24/13

Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

1/25/13

thanks for this post, subscribed for my future reference

2/2/13

great stuff, thanks for posting this

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

3/4/13

Thanks, I am a 26 yo been planning for MBA for over a year, but keep getting bombarded with mainstream media for reasons why the MBA is a poor investment. Your essay was well articulated and had strong reasoning. I can totally related to the thing you said about credibility, especially as someone coming from a non-banker position.

3/6/13

this was an incredibly helpful post. thanks OP

In reply to thedude12r43w
3/6/13

n1cktm:
Thanks for the great post CompBanker!

I was wondering if anyone has insight on the [b]value of an MBA outside of high finance (PE/HF/IBD)[/b]. Is an MBA much more valuable for those looking to move up in corporate finance for instance as it is a prerequisite to reach the VP level? Or are most of the guys moving up the ladder doing evening MBAs and less emphasis is placed on the prestige of the institution?

A top-tier MBA makes you a more viable candidate in almost any industry.

Background: I work in the defense sector as a software engineer. I'm also a infantry officer in the Army National Guard. I have a BS Computer Science.

You have a solid chance of making O-6/Colonel with the following:
- Infantry branch (while they may account for about 1/9th of junior officers, they represent over 50% of those who are Colonels and higher)
- Engineering/Science degree (US Cyber Command is rapidly expanding)
- Excellent reviews
- Required professional military education

A MBA from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Yale would be that extra push to make a "star" possible.

In reply to knivek
3/6/13

knivek][quote=n1cktm:

A MBA from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Yale would be that extra push to make a "star" possible.

Yeah, but only if your goal is to stay in the military. If that is the case, then I think a formal business education will increase frustration as one rises in rank and has to tote the company line. There are no reformers above the company grade ranks. Someone who goes to HBS to make general will spend 26 years of a career to get there and earn a salary comparable to what his or her classmates will make 1 year out of HBS. In the end, it seems like a dumb choice to me, unless you're just looking for 2 years off.

In reply to wannabeaballer
3/6/13

wannabeaballer][quote=knivek:
n1cktm:

A MBA from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Yale would be that extra push to make a "star" possible.

Yeah, but only if your goal is to stay in the military. If that is the case, then I think a formal business education will increase frustration as one rises in rank and has to tote the company line. There are no reformers above the company grade ranks. Someone who goes to HBS to make general will spend 26 years of a career to get there and earn a salary comparable to what his or her classmates will make 1 year out of HBS. In the end, it seems like a dumb choice to me, unless you're just looking for 2 years off.

Except, I'm a reservist so I'm making private sector pay in the defense sector. And it's lucrative. As a senior engineer without management responsibilities, you would be looking at a compensation package similar to:

- $140,000-170,000 per year in a low cost area of living
- 27+ paid vacation days per year
- 10+ paid military leave days per year
- 100% reimbursement for certifications
- differential pay for call to active duty
- never work more than 50 hours a week

Think of my military service and associated government benefits/perks as a hedge against the volatility of the private sector.

Also, there's no real opportunity costs associated with attending business school. My employer will sponsor it with salary and I'll be able to milk the Post 9/11 GI Bill for an extra $30k/year.

You can, in fact, juggle more than one career at a time. It's working the system - aka "double dipping".

In reply to rogersterling59
3/6/13

rogersterling59:
Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

For what it's worth, I'm considering part-time MBA at Booth too and recently had a conversation about this with a colleague:

1) It's the same MBA so the signaling value is there
2) You miss out on OCR but the best jobs in the HF world (excluding a few notable exceptions) don't come though OCR
3) It REALLY cut down the total cost (including opportunity), especially if your firm sponsors half it

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/_KarateBoy_

In reply to EllsworthToohey
5/28/13

EllsworthToohey:

rogersterling59:

Did you ever give any thought to part-time? I work in Chicago, and did my undergrad at UChicago, so I've been considering applying to the part-time program at Booth in a few years (I don't see myself being able to afford it otherwise).

Also, does anyone know how part-time vs full-time looks when it comes to post-MBA recruiting?

Basically part-time recruiting is the same as full time recruiting in that you get similar companies...You're invited to the same on-campus information sessions. However, full time students get first priority and some companies look very specifically for full timers.

You basically have to be very pro-active in your job search in part time recruiting. The careers office isn't very helpful and tends to see you as a second class citizen. They'll prioritize the needs of the recruiter over yours instead of trying to "help" you the way the full time students get. Its doable to get the same offers as the full timers but you have to make an extra effort to find your own opportunities.

In addition, it is quite difficult from a time standpoint to fully commit yourself to recruiting/job applications when you are working FT and going to school already.

5/28/13

This could be a "Why MBA" essay itself

5/28/13

Just wondering if anyone has attempted to do a DCF model of doing an MBA [w/ your own variables of course] i.e.

-age
-pre-MBA experience
-target/non/semi

"I like money (as do most females) but love is...great :)"-student
"Perhaps you've failed to take into account my hidden assets"-007
Omnia

5/28/13

Great post - As somone considering if an MBA is right for them, thank you for better clarifying all of the intangibles for me.

5/28/13

You piss excellence, good sir.

In reply to BatMasterson
5/28/13

Financier4Hire:

Just wondering if anyone has attempted to do a DCF model of doing an MBA [w/ your own variables of course] i.e.

-age
-pre-MBA experience
-target/non/semi

Seems like a waste of time. If you are pro-MBA, it would give you a positive NPV and if you are anti-MBA, it would give you a negative one.

In reply to huanleshalemei
5/28/13

huanleshalemei:

People tend to rationalize their behaviour to hide the fact that it's still largely driven by emotion.
So the tldr version of your post probably is: 'I don't care about the costs, I just need a break for a legit reason'.
Nothing wrong with it, I can relate.

Agree. This will look weird and uneconomical on your resume, no matter how you try to spin it.

OP, enjoy your time, I wouldn't recommend saying you went back to learn. Time on the job >> time in school.

5/28/13

Comp Banker, you single?

5/28/13
5/28/13

Just a quick question. You've stated your work experience, which helped you get you into your mba program, but would you mind showing your GMAT and other credentials which qualified you into your M7 mba. How was your leadership/ volunteer experience? I am trying to benchmark myself for a top MBA, because I am in a similar situation (non-target graduate who will have MM Ib experience).

Wu-Tang

In reply to hopefulinvestmentbanker
5/28/13

hopefulinvestmentbanker:

Just a quick question. You've stated your work experience, which helped you get you into your mba program, but would you mind showing your GMAT and other credentials which qualified you into your M7 mba. How was your leadership/ volunteer experience? I am trying to benchmark myself for a top MBA, because I am in a similar situation (non-target graduate who will have MM Ib experience).

From my experience, benchmarking ends up being pretty meaningless because there are hundreds of people that match a schools stats and only a small fraction of them will be admitted. I know a few people with stats similar to mine that got rejected everywhere they applied (M7) this year. But if you must:

White/Male/Finance
G.P.A. 3.7 (non-target)
GMAT: 760
Leadership / Volunteer: Strong -- I have leadership involvement in some unique community events.
Extracurriculars: Nothing particularly unique, although I have a broad reach of activities ranging from sports to personal intellectual pursuits that span back to college days.

CompBanker

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