Harvard grad + MBA without a job.

This post is re my mom. She graduated Harvard with a degree in physics back in 1990. Got a masters in international affairs and then an MBA from LBS in 2000. Worked in mgmt consulting for a few years before having kids and hasn't had a full time job since. She wants to get back into working but there is really no easy way given she has been out of work for so long. How can I help her. She is (or was) really bright, is she screwed or is there a way for her to get a job that compensates her fairly for her level of education?I feel like this a problem many moms have once they have to choose between kids and work. Really unfortunate.

Comments (22)

May 17, 2022 - 5:09pm
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Reentry at that age is tough, unless she gained substantial experience in a sought after field before she took a break to raise kids. I doubt she can get compensated fairly for her Harvard + LBS qualifications given the resume gap, unless she has friends who can pull her into a well paid role.

May 17, 2022 - 5:11pm
Escrownaut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Are there even any firms/industries which would consider starting her at an entry level role at her age so she can work up the ladder. Or is that out of the picture if you aren't fresh out of college/business scl?

May 17, 2022 - 5:34pm
Dave16, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't think you are completely out of luck. I don't think she could go be a PE associate necessarily but my firm (MM Valuation with a good name) hired a mom who had been out the workforce I think like 5-8 years. We have her starting as a senior associate with the idea of fast tracking her to VP. She had good experience before so she is taking a discount so to speak to get in the door but she definitely still has mobility.

May 17, 2022 - 10:41pm
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The other posters give you more hope than I can possibly offer. When I do the math, the applicant has ageism against her, not just an extended resume gap. Looking to reenter the workforce at around 50 will be a challenge. Her skills, industry knowledge, health, etc. are not the same as someone younger and more experienced. She can look for companies in your region that offer returnship programs for older workers or try contacting small and medium level enterprises to get a break. Maybe a decently funded startup would hire her, since her credentials would look good on their team website.


May 17, 2022 - 5:22pm
DrApeman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ad hoc project management roles (on a contract basis) might be a possibility. It would be a simpler way for her to re-gain some experience quickly. Otherwise MBB often claim to be quite open about career breaks for health and family reasons, but I cannot vouch as to how true that is. Certainly wouldn't hurt to apply, but it is load of hours (which she will know, having been in consulting before).

In terms of corporate jobs? Maybe first as a maternity leave replacement. Again, it would be temporary, but a good way to re-gain work experience quickly. I am afraid I do not have much better recommendations, short of reaching out to your/her network and try and obtain an interview through this method. With her credentials, I would reckon a few people would at least interview her. Then, it would be a matter of explaining the gap.

Good luck to you guys, I hope this works out for her!

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  • Associate 1 in IB - Cov
May 17, 2022 - 5:24pm

Google and try to find some "returnship" programs at firms that she would want to work at.

Here's one for Canadians: https://wcm.ca/programs/rtbs

Here's Goldman's: https://www.goldmansachs.com/careers/professionals/returnship/

These programs specifically try to bring women back into the workforce that had to take an extended leave. Honestly, your mom seems like a perfect fit for these programs. A woman with a Harvard -> LBS -> Management Consulting resume would surely be a fit for them. 

May 17, 2022 - 5:32pm
Escrownaut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks 🙏🏻. I'll check it out. We are UK based, hopefully they have similar programs.

May 17, 2022 - 5:44pm
DrApeman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Actually, if you are UK-based, she could try government/public sector jobs. They have very specific policies against discriminating for time away from work because of family reasons. It is also a double edged sword, because the application requires all details be anonymised, meaning Harvard/LBS won't carry any weight. But a Physics bachelor + UK-based MBA + Management Consulting is a solid CV, not matter what. Worth trying!

The good news is their interview formats are usually simple: maaaaybe a test of some sort (but not necessarily) and then 1-2 rounds of interviews with 1-2 people. And because it is the public sector, they have very specific guidelines and structure they need to follow, and literally ALL of the information is available online. Also, they're usually chronically short-staffed in most groups, so they're eager to interview.

  • Analyst 3+ in Risk Mnmgt
May 17, 2022 - 6:00pm

WF has a program called Glide Relaunch or something like that for explicitly this purpose. Women with work gaps and kids. I heard it was super successful.

May 18, 2022 - 5:02pm
OracleofBromaha, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have a friend who got a good returnship job at UBS in London.

I would also suggest looking at smaller or more entrepreneurial jobs - I know a few superb but under the radar asset management boutiques where the founder talked about hiring this kind of profile to get a higher caliber person than might usually do say, operations.

May 18, 2022 - 5:05pm
OracleofBromaha, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would add a couple of points:

1. It would be interesting to get a sense of what she likes to do/has a special aptitude for so I can think creatively about roles that might need that. She has a stellar resume but people that age are often self aware about what's important to them and what they want.

2. You will hear a lot of discouraging things on this post, perhaps - remember that getting hired is like dating - it doesn't matter how many rejections you get as long as you find one place that likes you back and makes you happy. So be creative and go for it.

May 22, 2022 - 7:00pm
FinnesseGod, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'd say the only way for your mom (referred to as "you") to get back into the workforce is to pursue one of two options: 

(1) to get back into management consulting from an untraditional route, you need to network with individuals at the Partner level to vouch for you or your competence. This means they themselves are taking a shot in investing in you and may opt to put you on engagements once entering the firm to re-build corporate experience. This is one of the few ways those aged above 30 can enter management consulting.

(2) to gain work experience, opting for non-traditional roles in start-ups that care more for experience/skills than credentials or creating a business yourself is the best way to re-enter the workforce quickly. The unfortunate truth is that many employers value relevance of experiences, and although you may be quite capable, getting a shot to showcase that can be difficult.

These are my two cents on the discussion. Feel free to reply if others have had different experiences or views on it.  

May 22, 2022 - 7:08pm
Escrownaut, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for this, really appreciate it. So it's basically about her network. I feel that it will be hard to justify them taking her on given she has likely forgotten most of her consulting expertise though.

May 22, 2022 - 7:15pm
Peace in Life, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Maybe this will help

Assuming your mom's exp is largely in finance, Morgan Stanley has a robust placement program called returning to work


Knew a few higher up professionals got hired after 15+ years of leaving the workplace (one MS MD in GCM left for raising her daughters and taking care of her mom) good luck:)

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Jun 1, 2022 - 8:15am
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jun 17, 2022 - 11:24am
theghostofthestreet, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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