Work experience for MBA app?

A bit of background information: I am 26-year-old material science PhD student from the UK who will graduate next year. I want to break into IB, and I guess the only way to do such a big career switch is through an MBA. I have a few questions related to MBA and school selections, hope you guys could help!

  1. Upon graduation, should I try to get a"finance" role in big Pharma or stick with my science research? Which one is better for MBA application? I guess I need to get a 3/4 years of exp before applying.

  2. I have plenty of internships and a full-time job prior to starting my PhD, but they are all science-related (in Pharma/research organisation) instead of finance/business one. Will this affect my MBA app?

  3. Given my weak CV and weird background, is there any chance of getting into a good MBA (say T15/good program in Europe)?


Comments (12)

Mar 29, 2022 - 12:57pm
NickJordan, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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  • Incoming Analyst in Consulting
Mar 6, 2022 - 8:52am

What's your university? If Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL, you'd probably have a shot at Associate positions with a bit of networking - think more technical IB coverage groups (industrial, pharma, mining, etc. depending on your background) are possible, but you'd have a particularly good opportunity at ER if you can find a niche related to your experience. Project finance/real asset management could also have a space for you too, sometimes having specific technical teams alongside people from more financial backgrounds (MIRA is an example of this). Only problem is getting pigeon-holed in a narrow space. 

MBB consulting would also be a real option, again assuming you're Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL - materials is very well respected at McKinsey and BCG especially and I know quite a few materials PhDs at those firms. 

If you're not from one of those four targets, it's going to be a real uphill struggle to recruit directly and the MBA is probably your best bet. 

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 6, 2022 - 11:03am

Not from the top unis, I did my undergrad (and doing my PhD) at the same average Russel Group uni. This is why I am planning to get an MBA, just to get a brand name on my CV... Obviously that depends on whether I am capable of getting into a good programme...

  • Incoming Analyst in Consulting
Mar 6, 2022 - 12:14pm

Others will have be better placed to comment, but not sure if an MBA would be a great investment before work experience - especially as you probably won't have much in savings after a PhD and 100k+ in debt isn't a great place to be. Recruiting out of a US MBA will not be easy at all without WE.

I think you'd probably be better trying for an ER position through networking (possible out of a RG) and if you still want to go IB later go for the MBA after two to three years working (by which time you'd be 28/29 so not that much older than average for some of these programmes). Alternatively, perhaps consider a business-related MSc at a UK target or HEC/Bocconi etc. which will give you the name brand and may give you a full scholarship as a PhD is quite an interesting and unusual background. Cost of that is going to be much less than an MBA

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov
Mar 6, 2022 - 4:37pm

My MD has more or less the same CV, did his PhD in a science role and then went to a Big4, and from then to a MM bank. It is possible if you want it. 

  • Incoming Analyst in Consulting
Mar 6, 2022 - 6:39pm

They won't get into a good consultancy from a non-target. Big 4 will take pretty much any RG graduate though and may be with a look per the comment above.

  • Prospect in IB - Gen
Mar 6, 2022 - 7:06pm

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