Age is just a number right?

I am 31 years old and live in Florida. I have a nontraditional career/education path and need some advice.

After I graduated high school I became a firefighter paramedic. It was a great job. The schedule was amazing pay was good and I got to give back to the community. During my time at the FD I start my own business and became interested in a more formal business education. Business does well, makes a couple hundred grand a year and has a handful of employees. I leave the FD to work at the business and go back to school full time. I end up selling the business while in school and making a nice chunk of change. I graduated this May with a BA in business and a 3.2GPA
Now here is the dilemma. I would like to get in to consulting or PE/VC. I had some small exposure to these careers while I had my own business. I know I need to go to a top school to try and get into one of these fields.

I have no corporate business experience.

Locally there are no top MBA programs and I cannot move for at least a few years due to my wives job.
Would a EMBA be the way to go do to my geographical restrictions? Will I have a shot? I have been accepted into Georgia Techs EMBA and I am waiting to hear back from Emory. Emory is about 30% more expensive that GT and both are substantially more expensive than the small local school.

Would it be possible to accomplish what I want to do with a EMBA over a full time MBA and at my age is it plausible?

Thanks

Comments (24)

May 13, 2015 - 3:34pm
NESCAC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You will likely (I would say definitely, but these things can be non-linear; contrary to popular belief) need a full-time MBA to transition to consulting/PE/VC. But what's the point of all this? You have what sounds like a successful business and are tied down geographically due to your wife's job. Why give that up?

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May 13, 2015 - 4:21pm
southfl813, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I did sell the business last year. The timing and money were right. I am ready to move on and start the next chapter. Consulting/PE/VC are what interest me the most. Real estate also.

Do you think a EMBA from a bigger school would be better than a MBA from a smaller school. The local MBA program is not a typical full time program. Its more of a part time piece together.

May 13, 2015 - 4:52pm
NESCAC, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My opinion is to go for the MBA rather than EMBA. Generally, the EMBA will not give you access to the recruiting aspect that the full-time MBA does, which is essential for you. The EMBA is pretty much designed for professionals currently working that might just need an MBA to move up the ladder at their current firm or something (so they can get their MBA without taking time off from working). However, you might have to do your own cost-benefit analysis since you said you wouldn't be able to start "for a few years". Assuming everything works out for the best: suppose you're 35 at the time you enter an MBA program, do you mind being a 37 year old post-MBA PE associate/consultant potentially doing grunt-work (albeit not as much as the entry level analysts)? In PE you will work long hours right out of school, that's pretty much a given..having a family/kids might have to go on hold for a bit. Consulting would allow you to keep some balance in your life.

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May 13, 2015 - 5:41pm
ChimpOnMyShoulder, what's your opinion? Comment below:
NESCAC:

My opinion is to go for the MBA rather than EMBA. Generally, the EMBA will not give you access to the recruiting aspect that the full-time MBA does, which is essential for you. The EMBA is pretty much designed for professionals currently working that might just need an MBA to move up the ladder at their current firm or something (so they can get their MBA without taking time off from working). However, you might have to do your own cost-benefit analysis since you said you wouldn't be able to start "for a few years". Assuming everything works out for the best: suppose you're 35 at the time you enter an MBA program, do you mind being a 37 year old post-MBA PE associate/consultant potentially doing grunt-work (albeit not as much as the entry level analysts)? In PE you will work long hours right out of school, that's pretty much a given..having a family/kids might have to go on hold for a bit. Consulting would allow you to keep some balance in your life.

But with consulting you will most likely be traveling frequently, particularly during the week. Not sure if that is something your wife would want.
May 30, 2015 - 12:14pm
vanillathunder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you have had a successful business and sold it for good money, I don't see why can't you tell that story for a full-time MBA and get into a good program that is strong for it's consulting recruiting.

I just think your priority should be family at this stage of your life. What you hope to get into post-MBA is demanding, unless I guess if you are knowingly going for the lesser consulting shops (not MBB, Booz, OW, and all that good stuff).

Just something to think about. Full-time MBA gives you much better recruiting channels. You had success in business, don't sell yourself short.

May 13, 2015 - 4:34pm
CRE, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know online degrees get a lot of flack, but I would seriously look into UNC's program. From the outside looking in, it seems pretty great

Commercial Real Estate Developer

May 13, 2015 - 5:39pm
junkbondswap, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What industry did your business operate in? Is your long-term plan to live in FL or are you open to NY/CA? I would put your chances at breaking into traditional PE at almost zero but think you have a better chance at VC if you can spin your entrepreneurial story. You sound lost, which is fine but to say that you are interested in consulting, VC, PE, and real estate with limited experience in any of those sounds misguided. Your most logical career move is to take the proceeds you made from your last exit and start something new.

Also, as mentioned above, EMBAs are essentially worthless for career switchers and you would need to crack a top MBA program (M7 or better) to have any shot at a reputable PE/VC shop. Age is just a number except when it comes to the highly structured and pedigree obsessed nature of PE, consulting, etc.

May 13, 2015 - 6:08pm
southfl813, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the response! The first business I started was a gym. I grew it to about 800k a year in revenue with a few locations in 3 years . I invested 25k. I sold it at the 4 year mark then started doing real estate. Got my real estate license and started developing properties in the city I live in. I still own it and it does ok but it takes a reinvesting capital to keep it going. I started both while in undergrad in my mid 20's

I am open to going to NY or CA in a year or two.

I can't really quit working for a full-time program. I did talk to the career counselors at GT and EMBA students are allowed to participate in the on campus recruiting which seems like a plus to me. USF would be the local full time option but the program is real small and dosent really have on compass recruiting. To me it seems like a good choice to spend a extra 30k to go to GT over USF. What do you think.

I know what I want to do is a long shot and sounds like consulting might be the best bet in the group. I know North Highland and IBM recruit from GT.

May 13, 2015 - 6:07pm
disabledaccount, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Gtech MBA isn't one of the top 25 MBAs. Emory is in that bracket though. I understand that EMBA is easier to get in but expensive. But this is a part of what EMBA is!--easy access to alumni network at a high ticket price.

If you don't have VC/PE stuff in knowledge, you cannot enter the field. People on WSO will say you got zero chance, I say slim. People who will get in usually have at least one of the two following attributes: They have the access to PE/VC jobs through academics/networking, or they have a keen interest in the field that enables them to have transferrable skills. Work on those items with or without MBA/EMBA.

May 13, 2015 - 6:17pm
DickFuld, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't get why you want to work in VC or PE. What do you really know about those areas? An MBA seems like a waste of time and money for you. Go start another business, you seem to have a knack for that.

Your background doesn't translate easily to either VC or PE. An MBA from a mid-tier school isn't going to help you get there. Not to mention VC and PE are actually quite different. I'm a little confused and I think you are as well.

May 13, 2015 - 8:34pm
Dingdong08, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I very much agree with Dick. A mid tier MBA or EMBA isn't going to do anything for your goal of doing PE or VC. Honestly I'd scratch those off-they're both incredibly difficult to get into with your background. No offense meant, for the most part the path into both is pretty well defined and difficult: you need a top or at least really good undergrad> great experience> top bschools>PE/VC, or for VC you could do it if you started and very successfully exited a tech co. Consulting is pretty similar, but I'm not a consultant so others may have a better idea about that. Yes, there are exceptions but they are the very far and few between and at your age you'd probably just be spinning your wheels.

If you're developing real estate, keep doing that. Find wealthy people to invest with you and just keep getting into bigger projects. It's not tough to find investors in South Florida, although half of them are shysters so keep your guard up and find a decent lawyer. Keep reinvesting your profits and with some risk mitigation you can make decent money. Or find another nuts and bolts company to start up and find investors to scale it up more quickly. If you successfully launched three gyms in S. FL (I lived there for a few years) you're a hustler in a good way and you'd waste those skills by going to a mid tier bschool. And you'd waste a couple of years of your life and tens to mid $100k's in school expenses on an EMBA. If you feel like you need to learn simple shit like accounting or marketing, take a few courses at the CC or online.

Just my opinion though.

May 13, 2015 - 8:45pm
DickFuld, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Dingdong08:
Find wealthy people to invest with you and just keep getting into bigger projects.
This. You will probably make more money with more flexibility than most people in PE or VC anyway if you do this. Especially for the cost of living in Florida.

The MBA seems like it won't get you what you want and will cost you money and opportunity cost. It just does not make sense.

May 14, 2015 - 6:18pm
Stacy_Blackman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You sound like a really interesting guy, and top business schools would be lucky to have you! I concur that a top MBA might be the best way to go, even though, at 31, you're falling into a gray area; you're a bit young for the EMBA, and older than most full-time MBA applicants. That said, I work with people over 30 every year who make successful applications to top business schools. Be sure to get a competitive GMAT (i.e. 700+), which seems even more important for over-30 applicants.

Have you considered a streamlined MBA such as Columbia J-term, or a strong part-time program like NYU's Langone? You seem like a natural fit for programs like these.

www.StacyBlackman.com
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May 14, 2015 - 11:48pm
Betsy Massar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think DickFuld is onto something here. It isn't entirely clear why you want to go into PE or VC, which are indeed, quite different. VC, for example, really looks for people with tech or hard science backgrounds. PE, well, it's about buyouts, turnarounds, and can be incredibly hard to get into if you don't know anyone. WSO is filled with stories from real students at top business schools who see it first hand that the PE firms are looking for people who already come from PE, or have very glamorous credentials.

Still, the EMBA is not useless. You do learn a lot, you meet interesting classmates, and you can use this time to re-position yourself career-wise. You may actually decide you want to go into finance, or strategy or biz dev or join a small, but growing company in, say, the fitness space (any FitBit type firms in Atlanta?). The EMBA will help get you that far, if you commit to networking too.

And kudos to you for putting your wife's career location desires first. Don't see that often enough.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-w-betsy-massar-of-master-admissions
Ask away!
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Best Response
May 15, 2015 - 1:16pm
LongandShortofit, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't think you will fit in at a large professional firm, and I don't think you will enjoy the work. There is probably a small PE firm somewhere that would value your entrepreneurial experience but it will be a needle in a haystack and the MBA won't be of much value. They are not going to hire you to run models or make pitch books. You are too senior for that and they can get any random banking analyst to do that. You are never going to complete on technical skills, and roles that emphasize these would in many ways be a step backward. Most post-MBA jobs would be a step backwards actually. People go into banking and consulting to get exposure to businesses and business leaders - larger scale versions of who you already are.

You already have a BA in business so there is little educational value in an MBA and the programs you are looking at won't add to your prestige.

I don't know what your next move is but you need to figure out if/when you are going to have kids. If you decide to have them, now seems like a good time. You could be the primary caregiver and do real estate on the side. I have a friend who was successful in his early twenties, was able to buy a house and put his wife through med school, and now has a very low key management job and mostly stays home with the kids. It's a good life.

May 15, 2015 - 11:10pm
fxmbaconsulting, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I don't see a profile like the one posted at any 2-year top 10 program. I just wonder if you really need an MBA or EMBA at all - why not start-up another company ? Frankly I'm surprised that there were suggestions that with a 700+ GMAT the poster could somehow compensate for his age/unconventional work experience/undergrad institution trifecta.

Leah Derus Independent MBA Admissions Consultant MIT Sloan Class of 2010 [email protected] Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCacB1ueqfkRVW5pcMZKAj5w
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May 28, 2015 - 3:58pm
southfl813, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I really appreciate everyone's comments! The insights a very helpful.

I do have a update, not sure if it makes a difference. Just had a interview at a big 4 firm. Its just above entry level. Strategy wise if I get it I am thinking I can put off grad school for a couple years then try to get into a good full time/part program.

Do you think this could be a path to consulting?

May 30, 2015 - 2:15am
aiddiidjd d, what's your opinion? Comment below:
southfl813:

I really appreciate everyone's comments! The insights a very helpful.

I do have a update, not sure if it makes a difference. Just had a interview at a big 4 firm. Its just above entry level. Strategy wise if I get it I am thinking I can put off grad school for a couple years then try to get into a good full time/part program.

Do you think this could be a path to consulting?

Precisely why are you so keen to get into consulting? You have far more experience in actually running a business than any entry-level consultant does. Also, as someone already noted, you are in the gray area for an MBA. Putting it off for a few more years will make it even more difficult. I suggest you read @DickFuld's comment again and reflect on your ambitions and goals.

Use more debt than your competition or get out of the business. Any other policy is either self-limiting, no-win, or a bet that the competition will go bankrupt before they displace you. - Bruce Henderson
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May 30, 2015 - 2:51am
WSO1212, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Man, just make sure this is what you really want. I've been in PE for four years, and aside from Patners and MDs (maybe VPs), not sure many of my peers wouldn't trade their jobs to own their own business making a couple hundred grand in cash flow a year - myself included. Why not just do it again my brother?

May 30, 2015 - 9:08am
Scott Irish, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I agree with you, Dongdong08, Dick Fuld, et al. I think the OP sounds like a real interesting guy and I definitely applaud his ambition. And hell, maybe he'd love VC/PE.

But I think this might be a "grass is greener" situation. My personal goal, for example, is to toil away in the corporate world long enough to network and build my skills so I can go build businesses like OP has already done.

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May 30, 2015 - 5:28am
wilhug, what's your opinion? Comment below:

how much money you made when you sold your biz? maybe you can do a couple franchise with money left, international franchise is a hit in developping world

May 30, 2015 - 1:59pm
GetAJob08, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 31, 2015 - 12:03pm
da chief, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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