Job offer or Duke MMS?


Some of you may remember my previous posts, but just to summarize: 2009 Econ graduate (UM), haven't been able to find a job. I recently was accepted to Duke's MMS program, but also have been interviewing for an entry-level consultant position with PFM Group.

I don't have the job offer yet, and can't say for sure if I'll be extended the offer or not, but I've heard total compensation is ~45-50k. The firm is at the top of it's field (public finance). The job itself is pretty analytical and seems like a good experience (financial advisory for municipalities), even though it's not in IB.

With Duke, the graduate program will be in it's second year, and the tuition is 40K. However, I've read that many of the recruiting issues from the first year, have been resolved. Duke is obviously a great school, and in one year, to be a Duke alum is really appealing to me. Although without work experience, a big concern is the difficulty of going through recruiting.

With regards to the job, will I be able to break into IB after a year? Two years?

Also, which "path" would make me a better MBA candidate? I do plan on getting an MBA after a few years, and so that is part of my decision as well. If I choose the job, I would look to work with this firm for a couple of years, then transition to IB for two years, and then apply to bschool. If I go with Duke, I would try to get into IB right out of Duke and work for a few years, and then apply to bschool.

Given the two choices, which would you choose and why?

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.


Comments (13)

Jun 22, 2010 - 6:07pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Does Duke allow deferrals? I ran into a similar situation with Chicago, called up the program director, and worked out a deal for a long-term deferral.

As the old saying goes, make hay while the sun shines. The economy isn't exactly a summer day in Arizona, but it's not midnight in Antarctica right now, either. I say take the job if you can get it, save money like crazy, and reapply in a few years. The last place you want to be in is student debt.

Jun 22, 2010 - 6:45pm
tentop, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Duke curriculum is not very appealing as it seems quite lightweight compared to some of the top MSF/MSC Finance programs out there. Just putting it out there.

Jun 22, 2010 - 7:02pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Duke curriculum is not very appealing as it seems quite lightweight compared to some of the top MSF/MSC Finance programs out there. Just putting it out there.
I know it's not Michigan or Berkeley, but it's still a target- and a shorter trip from NYC (probably the biggest factor in what makes a school a target). It's a difficult school to get into, and if the OP graduates near the top of his class, he'll be reasonably competitive as a 2nd-year-analyst hire.
Jun 22, 2010 - 6:51pm
JohnnyCage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with IlliniP. Try for the deferral. Think of it this way duke mms & 1-2 years of work experience > either on it's own. - IMO

Best Response
Jun 22, 2010 - 7:52pm
tbm24, what's your opinion? Comment below:

IlliniProgrammer: Thanks for the reply. Btw, I really enjoy your posts and insight, just wanted to say thanks for your contributions to the site.

I checked the Duke MMS website, and it says deferring is not an option. I could theoretically reapply for next year, but I'm not sure how it would look on my resume to have a one year gap post-graduation, work for a year, and then go back for a one year program.

Also, I'm extremely motivated at this point, especially after losing this one year, and so I would put everything I had into the Duke program and graduating near the top of the class. But my concern would be without internship / work experience, if it would be realistic to get into IB, let alone as a 2nd year analyst. Do you think my lack of internships / work experience would kill my chances, regardless of how I perform at Duke + my undergrad background?

tentop: I agree the curriculum may not be as great as other programs, or as finance specific. The most appealing aspect would be the Duke name and being an alum with a graduate degree in one year.

JohnnyCage: Considering I have a one year employment gap, would it make sense to work for a year and then go back for this program? Keeping in mind I plan on getting an MBA, hopefully sooner rather than later? I don't know if it would end up looking strange that I go from work --> Duke --> work --> MBA.

With regards to the job, does anyone know what or how the exit opps would be? Again, this company is in public finance, and within the field, supposedly at the top.

Jun 22, 2010 - 8:53pm
Recap, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To be honest, I don't see the point of doing an MMS if you will be going to B-School later (it makes more sense to me to pay for B-school).

OP - what exactly are you hoping to get into? IBD?

Jun 22, 2010 - 8:56pm
tbm24, what's your opinion? Comment below:

walkio: Yeah, I'm hoping to get into IB, but I've realized over the past year that it's not possible for me right now. That's why I applied to the Duke program, and a variety of finance related jobs that I thought would be good experience and help me make the move at some point.

I don't know which would give me the better chance of getting into IB, though. I figure the work experience is really important since I don't really have the internship/work experience that so many other candidates have, but then again, I've been thinking that with my undergraduate background + Duke graduate degree, I would do better in recruiting since I would be really focused from the start.

Jun 22, 2010 - 9:16pm
nelly0, what's your opinion? Comment below:

tbm, out of curiosity what are your stats? If they are strong (indicating that you would get in again if you reapplied in a year or two) then I would suggest getting the work experience and going back for the MMS later. I think this does a few things for you:

1) Lets you see for yourself whether the "recruiting issues from year one" have been resolved by looking at placement stats from this year and, possibly, next year's classes. 2) Allows you to get work experience which is always invaluable on a resume. This could help tremendously in the job search during MMS recruiting. 3) Save money to pay for tuition.

I think those three factors are VERY important to consider. You can see if the program has legit placement after a few years, gain work experience AND graduate with less debt.

Jun 22, 2010 - 10:42pm
tbm24, what's your opinion? Comment below:

nelly0: My undergrad GPA was 3.3. I took the GRE, and did decent enough to get accepted (although it wasn't a great score, mostly due to a subpar verbal score).

I think I'd get in if I applied again in a year or two, but then again, I don't know how much more competitive the program will be in the next couple of years.

You make good points, though. The worst case would be to go through the program this year, and still not get a decent job out of it. Losing this past year was hard enough, and I couldn't go through that again, or also taking a job that wasn't all that great.

But my thinking is, if I'm offered the job and go with that, I'm not sure how it would look (either to IB recruiters, or bschool adcoms) to work for the year and then go back for the Duke program.

I'm trying to figure out the best path to IB based on these two options, and also to a top bschool a few years down the line. Another thing I'm considering, how would the Duke MMS degree help when it comes to applying for an MBA? My undergrad GPA wasn't that great, but if I do really well at Duke, then GPA won't be an issue in the future.

Jun 22, 2010 - 10:50pm
nelly0, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think if you explain to the Duke MMS people that you received a job offer and think the work experience would be good before starting the MMS they will probably understand. I think getting a great GPA in a master's program will also make the MBA adcom forget about undergrad GPA (although 3.3 at UM is not bad). In this job market if you get a job that pays decently well and gives you good experience you should probably take it vs. the unknown. Duke MMS is such a young program and I don't think anyone knows how recruiting will improve from year 1 to 2.

Jun 23, 2010 - 4:32pm
humble_dude, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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