AMA - I'm an online MBA/MSF Candidate at Kelley

Rhodium's picture
Rank: Senior Baboon | 229

Hello everyone. This is my first WSO post--and as a matter of fact, my first real forum post in general (aside from the occasional reply on some random interest group). I'll first tell a short bit about who I am, where I live and work, and why I have joined WSO. Next, I'll talk about why I chose Kelley Direct, the online/distance version of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and how I came to choose equity research as my dream career. Lastly, I'd like to open the floor up for an AMA, if there are any questions for a person in my situation!

About Me:
I live in Northwest Arkansas and I work for AT&T in telecom sales. I am pursuing a career switch into equity research via obtaining my MBA and MSF from Kelley and have joined WSO to learn, network, and offer my experiences and insights to any other prospective monkeys out there.

After the break is some more info about my background then it's open for you guys to ask questions.

Phase One: Undergraduate and then some...
I started undergrad at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, majoring in math and poly sci. The plan I had for myself was to sign a Marine ROTC officer contract to get my education paid for (I had a 1/2 tuition scholarship, but the Citadel is quite pricey and I came from a lower middle class family which couldn't help me with college). I planned to do JAG, and go on to become a criminal prosecutor. I got DQ'ed from the Marines as an asthmatic and quickly realized that I didn't want to pursue law anyway. So I floundered for two years, finally graduating with a generic arts degree in Biblical Studies from a no-name college north of Chicago (Trinity International University for any of you who may be familiar).

I graduated in 2009, and even with a near 4.0 GPA, I couldn't find work in Chicago. I moved back to Arkansas where I am from and took a job in sales at AT&T with the promise that I could make 50k+ (which seemed like wealth upon wealth to my naive soul). Still unsure of what I wanted to do, but finally convinced after a few courses in seminary that I wanted nothing to do with my undergraduate degree, I took a couple classes from a local ACBSP business school--being from the small town former confederacy, I knew nothing of b-school rankings at the time. In short order, I fell in love with analyzing business and doing case studies, and in particular the way capital financing, equity markets, and banking ran the world. To make it, I would need to take the GMAT and I would need to move on to a great business school.

Phase Two: Choosing Kelley School of Business, and in particular, Kelley Direct:
With a month of GMAT prep and a couple of practice tests under my belt, I grinned ear-to-ear as I walked out of the University of Arkansas testing center, having placed in the 94 percentile. I began getting calls and emails from HBS, Wharton, Fuqua, and UNC--in addition to Walton College (aka Walmart Training Program) and Kelley. With my score, I immediately marked off anything that didn't hit the top 25 on both Businessweek and USN. I also demanded (perhaps not all that wisely) that whatever program I enrolled in would allow me to continue to work full-time, as I was the sole income for myself and my wife, who was in college for nursing.

So, I was left with Fuqua's Global Executive MBA, UNC's newly minted online program, or Kelley School of Business via Kelley Direct. With Fuqua's astronomical price tag (not including travel to all of those marvelous places, the pragmatist in me reduced my choices to UNC or Kelley. So I called both schools, went through the whole "virtual recruiting" and "sample coursework" and at last settled on Kelley, as they had been doing the whole online school thing for longer and seemed to have a more solid grasp on how to deliver tough content in a manageable way in a virtual medium. Assured by a graduate career services counselor that attending Kelley Direct would help me achieve my ultimate goal of getting into strategy consulting (not necessarily MBB, but at least a nationally recognizable name) or investment banking, I signed on the dotted line.

Phase Three: Equity Research?
I started my program leaning towards investment banking, so I sought out help from career services, having no idea how to even get started. I was informed (erroneously) that even with my gmat score and GPA, Wall Street simply wasn't hiring anyone (this was 2012) and that my efforts would be better spent pursuing corporate finance at an F500 (like AT&T where I currently work in sales, one counselor so "helpfully" pointed out). Not to be deterred, I put ibanking on my back-burner and instead began looking more heavily at strategy consulting.

About a year in, I was making some significant ground towards breaking into strategy consulting. I had connected with alumni and or faculty at McKinsey, BCG, EY, Accenture, Deloitte, A.T. Kearney, and Booz Allen Hamilton (among others). I had conducted a number of informational interviews, received a lot of positive feedback and sent out my resume to a couple of hiring managers with a tepid bite or two. I'm convinced that had I stayed the course, I would have been able to secure a spot in consulting by graduation. Then, sitting through a video lecture on CAR statements for a professional development course, a classmate offhandedly mentioned refining models for his work in REITs equity research. He self-deprecatingly referred to his work as "I'm sure you're all bored out of your minds reading about this" in the chat-box. Contrarily, I was fascinated. So I immediately emailed him for an informational interview. Like a veritable John Kerry, I swapped sides once again. For the past several months, I've been eating up all that I can find about ER and plotting out my course into a post-MBA role. And that's what lead me to WSO...

But, I am rapidly approaching the "whoa that post is long, I'm never going to read it" mark so I will close with:

Ask me anything.

Comments (57)

Apr 3, 2014

1. Have you noticed any negative effects because of the "online" aspect of your degree? Obviously your test scores/GPA help a lot, but I guess I'm just interested to see if you end up in a BB or MM ER role. If you do, this will totally change my perspective on online degrees - from any school.

2. How were your online professors? I imagine they'd be younger and more tech savvy, but how was their experience?

    • 1
Apr 3, 2014

this
do interviewers usually ask about online degree stuff?

happy to give advice; no asking for referrals please

Apr 3, 2014

Yes, they see that the dates for my school are the same as when I'm working full time 500+ miles away. They ask, "how does that work," and then I have to go on the defensive about the program. I think the inertia is beginning to change in that UNC and Duke now offer "online" MBAs as well, and Georgetown/MIT with the online Masters of Finance... But it will be awhile yet before it's no longer stigmatic.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 3, 2014

1. Negatives from the online experience are: "I see you're attending school full-time, but you work full-time." ... "Yeah, I am doing my degree online." ... "Oh..."

I guess what I mean is, even though I'm technically doing the exact same coursework as an on campus Kelley student, there is definitely a stigma, especially when it comes to recruiting and getting through the first point of contact. After they get to know me some and we start talking technical, I'm able to demonstrate that I have learned the same content, but there are still hurdles to push beyond.

2. The professors are actually the same as for on campus. I've had professors who were 60+. Kelley has a great IT support system so that even the non-technical faculty don't have too rough of a time. They may not take advantage of as many of the more advanced technologies like share point and customized forums, etc, but they seem to make do. So in direct response, they have a wide range of experience--some still PhD candidates in Econ, some 30 year corporate America veterans who now teach b-school.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

    • 1
  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Jan 15, 2016
  1. I have not. I'm in the same program and scheduled to graduate this May. Bottom line is this - curriculum matters and faculty matters. This is as true of online delivery as is of traditional delivery. You'll have slackers in class much like in a traditional classroom so your dedication level will only depend on you and not on the external factors. I'm as equally as motivated as in a classroom but this is something to consider if you're not a self-starter. If you don't do the work, you won't absorb the knowledge and the skills required for success. I have improved drastically from the point I entered the program as Kelley has a variety of practical electives to choose from to improve a range of soft skills and decision-making. The program is not perfect but it's darn good considering the medium and the price.
  2. Kelley professors are, in general, very smart and bright. School has a clear vision and most professors seem to integrate and project that vision very well. They're available to you and helpful. All equally tech savvy and well-trained in ways of online delivery. Classes mix a variety of approaches to online learning and closely mimic classroom delivery, albeit much better than any program of average quality. There is a caveat though - in my experience, and I've only taken two straight finance classes thus far, these professors do not add up to Kelley quality nor do I feel that I'm learning as much as I should. I may opt out of MS in finance for that reason but still have some time to think about it.
    To finally provide some perspective, I have a MS in a business discipline from Hofstra via classroom delivery and, if I were to compare those professors to Kelley, they would rate at about 2/5 while Kelley would stand at 4/5 (2.5/5 for finance professors at Kelley).
    Hope this helps!
  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Feb 22, 2016

As a current KD student, I am less than impressed with the online program at IU. The profs and education ar not bad but logistics range from acceptable to poor. I wish I had chosen another school. The administration is of not help once you sign up and pay your money. Disappointed.

Apr 3, 2014

Do you feel at a disadvantage to your peers who took the traditional path when interviewing?

Apr 3, 2014

Short answer: yes.
Long answer: when I make the first point of contact, I am definitely scrutinized very heavily because my degree is online. Not only do I have to sell myself like you do for any interview, but I also have to sell my school somewhat, to overcome the knee jerk reaction against online schools, largely proliferated by the junk University of Phoenixes that have polluted the minds of hiring managers against online ed.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 3, 2014

I also would like to know about the Online component. I am planning on doing the exact program at Kelley online, and I was reading that many people that get an online degree from a reputable school will actually list their degree and work history on their resume, but won't list the dates that they attended school. That shifts focus away from "Well it says here that you worked in Florida for 4 years, but at the same time you went to Kelley." Have you specifically spoken to recruiters and hiring managers about their views on an online degree from a great school?

Apr 3, 2014

That works after your first post grad job. For ibanking you ideally do an internship in between year 1 and year 2 (I didn't) and then recruit in fall of your final year to be hired in the summer. So even if you left off the dates from your cv/resume, in order to go through the recruit cycle for BB and many MM (Blair, PiperJaffrays, Baird, etc) you have to tell them when you graduate, and then they will know.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 3, 2014

But in my case I'm already sitting in a good position with my company. Not bragging, just pointing this out - I make around 80k/yr with bonus so to get into equity research I am willing to wait until a spot opens up at a decent firm in the south that might consider me without the internship component or without a few solid years as an IB analyst. I hope that I'm right. Either way I'm hoping that the online thing won't hurt me. It's just much easier on my wife and kids for me to not be at a campus 4 nights a week. It gets a little into the "personal" side of things in an interview, but I guess that might be a talking point for me when asked "Why did you do grad school online?" I can just tell them that it was the best possible scenario when I looked at both my career aspirations and the quality of life for my family. Hopefully that will work.

Apr 3, 2014

Just wanted to say that I'm very happy to see there are people who are fascinated by equity research. That is all.

Apr 3, 2014

@TheFamousTrader - My wife thinks I'm weird. I get all excited when new 10-ks come in the mail for me to dive into. I think that equity research/valuation is something you either love or hate. It's love for me (and OP apparently). Who would've thought that a guy from Arkansas (OP) and a guy from Alabama (me) would dig equity research so much...

Apr 3, 2014

You know you can look at 10-Ks on EDGAR right? Much more efficient to view in PDF / e-copy format than in hard copy...

Apr 3, 2014

As an aside, my goal is to break into Equity Research as well (somewhere in the south). Along with Kelley, I'm hoping that eventually being a CFA Charterholder will help me get into that arena.

Apr 3, 2014

CFA will definitely help--pretty much mandatory for ER. I'm doing my level 1 in June 2015, so I'm basically just going to e studying straight through MBA, MSF, CFA back to back from 2012 to 2017 haha.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 3, 2014

sorry if you already answered this, have you adjusted your resume and/or your cold emails/calls after seeing people's response that you're doing an online degree?

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Apr 3, 2014
AndyLouis:

sorry if you already answered this, have you adjusted your resume and/or your cold emails/calls after seeing people's response that you're doing an online degree?

I haven't. At present, I'm trying to recruit for new associate in ER/new analyst in AM or PWM positions (even though my degrees overqualify my for analyst in AM/PWM spots). So the reqs I am applying for usually state "graduating between April and August 2014" or similar. After my first post grad job, I'll drop the dates off my degrees on resume and during cold calls. I already don't put "online" on anything, or mention it before it's brought up. I haven't came up with a way yet to leverage it as an advantage...

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

    • 1
Apr 3, 2014

@Rhodium - I completely agree with the CFA comment. I'm doing the same thing except I'm going to try and pass 1 in December of this year, and if I pass, squeeze level 2 in during June 15. Lots of work... no problem about the Penn State confusion... you did get me kinda excited with the thought of MIT though!

Apr 3, 2014
wareagle4230:

you did get me kinda excited with the thought of MIT though!

Yeah... Maybe one day. Maybe HBS online PhD in Biz econ... I can dream, right? Hehe

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

May 15, 2014

Stanford does offer online MSc degrees through SCPD, but not in Finance though. MSc Statistics and MSc Management Science and Engineering has quite a few electives in finance I think.

Apr 3, 2014

@"Rhodium" - Harvard might have that one day, but they will almost certainly be the last school to bite that bullet.

Apr 3, 2014

Can't you just leave out your current work so that question doesn't come up?

Apr 3, 2014

@bluegold
I suppose, but my current work is also my only worthwhile work... Plus then they might ask why I have a three year hole between undergrad and b-school. Then I'd have to explain why I left out my job... Idk...

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 3, 2014

@"rufiolove" - I know it's more efficient, but the paper ones are free, and I can make my notes, write some ratios in the margins, and flip back and forth much easier with paper copies. It's the way I learned valuation, so that is what I am sticking to (for now). Paper 10k and Excel and I'm ready to go!

@"Rhodium" - PM me and I will give you a breakdown. I can't broadcast their name on here.

Apr 3, 2014

@"rufiolove" - The other bonus (in my opinion) when it comes to hard copies is that I can pull them from my files to see my notes really easily. I have a lot of storage space at home, so there is ample room to pull a file I have on a company, see all my notes, and not have to get on the computer and access the pdf on my hard drive. Just my preference though. Most people that use Edgar and download the pdf have their own quick system that they would argue is better/faster/more efficient than mine. Just my way of skinning the cat...

Apr 4, 2014

Haha @"Rhodium", @"wareagle4230", fair enough I guess. You can do all these things in pdf as well on an iPad no less. Most bankers take 10-Ks on flights to take notes but keeping old 10-Ks around would seem like a headache to me. I think most junior guys who are doing this day in and day out would agree that e-copy to be able to Ctrl + F and be able to copy paste directly from the document saves tons of time, especially when you can Alt + drag to paste in entire tables like options schedules and things of that nature. If you want to take notes on the MD&A and things like that you can paste whole sections into excel and insert comments. I can understand the rational for hard copy filings when traveling, etc, but I think you lose much of the efficiency. Typically senior guys take them on flights so they have something to read and mark up, but most of the old school guys at my shop have switched to looking at filings on their iPads where possible. Banks can have the luxury of stacking PIBs everywhere but I just hate clutter.

To each their own. Just thought it was interesting that people had them mailed.

    • 1
Apr 4, 2014

@"rufiolove" - You're definitely right about efficiency. I guess since all of the review that I'm doing is in my free time and not for my firm, I just go about it the most "satisfying" way according to my needs. If I were an analyst, under deadlines, and traveling, I'd probably be whistling a different tune.

Apr 4, 2014

@rufiolove
#10-Ks and efficiency... True about the iPad... It overcomes some of my arguments for hard copy--readability, etc. I'll probably end up going that route at some point. Even at present I do most of my case studies on iPhone via DropBox/OneNote/OneDrive. Add iPad Air or Mini w/ Retina and Office 365 and I may make the swap.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 4, 2014

@"Rhodium" - The other thing that I forgot to mention yesterday was my reason for picking Kelley as the online program that I am trying to get into. I, like you, want to get a dual degree MBA/MSF, and Kelley is the top school with that dual as an option through their online program (as far as I've researched). I am originally from Alabama, am a huge Auburn fan, and thought about doing theirs. Their online dual MBA/MSF is cheaper and takes a little less time than Kelley, but Kelley is a much more prestigious business school compared to Auburn's. I like Auburn's format with online education (they put cameras in the classrooms, stream the content later that day, and you have the same tests and projects as regular students), but my company pays for 100% of my graduate education, no matter the cost. With that option, Kelley would be great for me. It's around $75k for tuition and fees, vs about $45k for Auburn, but Kelley would look much better IMHO than Auburn.

Apr 4, 2014
wareagle4230:

@Rhodium - The other thing that I forgot to mention yesterday was my reason for picking Kelley as the online program that I am trying to get into. I, like you, want to get a dual degree MBA/MSF, and Kelley is the top school with that dual as an option through their online program .

That's a solid point. I didn't look at the dual degree before enrolling, but I am also unaware of any schools more prestigious than Kelley offering MBA/MSF.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 4, 2014

Out of curiosity why do you guys want a dual MBA/MSF degree? In my mind the combination is not all that additive and your time and money would be better spent sticking with just the MBA and shifting energy to other pursuits than an MSF to make you a more well rounded candidate. If my firm were evaluating a potential candidate, and we saw that you had an MBA and an MSF concurrently, it would be a bit confusing.

Apr 4, 2014

@"rufiolove" - An MBA is quite applicable in business. I work for a transportation company, and if my attempt at breaking into equity research doesn't pan out, an MBA is a necessity to move up with the companies that would be looking at me in transportation. But an MSF, IMO would be desireable (along with being a CFA charterholder) in the equity research/portfolio mgmt arena. Plus, when you look at dual degrees, sometimes it's only say 5 or 6 additional classes to add on an MSF since the grad level finance classes can also be counted as some of your MBA electives. I guess to kind of summarize, my interests lie more with a class on Financial Modeling, Equity Valuation, Asset Valuation, than Organizational Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing type classes, etc. But if my career goal of switching fields doesn't work, an MBA will move me up the ladder from where I currently sit.

Apr 4, 2014

If you plan on getting the CFA as well then the MSF is definitely unnecessary and non-additive - you should only do it if there is no additional financial cost. Even if there is no added financial cost, your time would be better spent networking. A bank isn't going to be any more impressed by an MBA/MSF than they would be by simply the MBA, especially if both are from a lesser ranked school. I would caution you against falling into the trap of trying to accumulate degrees and certifications. You should focus your time on networking.

Apr 4, 2014

You scored a ~720 on the GMAT with one month of preparation. You clearly have great academic aptitude. Can you give a rundown of your GMAT story? I've been studying for GMAT for a number of months now and I'm not close to my target score (steadily improving). I sit in 1.5 months...can you give the rundown and how to prepare in 30 days?

Thanks in advance.

Apr 5, 2014

@onetwobit
Sure, pm me and well set something up to discuss.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 4, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

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Apr 5, 2014

Very interested in this..... Taking L3 in June and also finishing up my undergrad online from a brick and mortar. Would like to get into ER as well.... nice to see others are in a similar situation.

Apr 6, 2014

For people looking for a similar program, I suggest UWash's CFRM, available online and far cheaper ($40k for the whole thing), and similar reputation (good but not great school)

Best Response
Apr 8, 2014

I can vouch for the MSF program. It was a great opportunity and for the right people it allows you to develop some very practical skills, rebrand, and network at a very cost effective price. My costs were 25k, and you can probably skip out of a lot of classes.

I am not saying it will be the reason you get into a BB or an extremely lucrative position at a P/E fund but its not a bad program and if you are determined to make good with it, you will. I am a trader at a fairly large commodity fund, we have 2 other IU alums (one ugrad, one MBA), and I met several other people from the program that have great careers. I did the program to brand out of commodity trading if i ever got the axe and couldnt find a job....a low cost insurance policy kind of thing.

I did my MSF at IU Bloomington via KD... my section that I basically did my in residency with and spent 1.5 yrs with were a great group of people. Some were already CFA's CPA's etc, all working in good corporate positions either in finance or business development. Some worked for the Fed, others banks or oil companies. One went on and got some seed money to start his own fund, he had a few trading algos that he was developing while going thru the program.

The program was very refreshing and all but 1 of my professors were KICK ASS. I wanted to go thru the experience more than thinking it was going to take my career to the next level. And I didn't want to give up my current job.

I haven't really interviewed anywhere since doing this program to be honest so I don't know if employer reactions to it will be adverse. Several really high ranked schools have programs now and with the volatility in the job market, I think employers would respect the fact that you care enough to advance your education yet aren't foolish enough to take on massive debt+lost wages - of course this all depends on the situation you are in (if you were accepted to a day program at hbs obviously your opportunity costs are different). I know several of my peers that did the MBA have since landed very good corporate jobs and they never had any problems with the degree question during the interview.

realistically if you think this will get you into ibanking its going to be a hard sell...maybe a small boutique if you pass level1 or something of a CFA although there are a few KD alums out there that are doing ibanking at mid size firms and there are def traders out there that are KD msf alums, so its really what you make of it. the IU Bloomington brand is a strong one in the world of business and finance and for the costs vs benefits I thought it was a great decision and I would do it again.

Hoosiers baby!!

    • 3
Apr 9, 2014

Thanks for the info - +1 SB for that.

Apr 23, 2014
Grow or Go:

I can vouch for the MSF program.

Kind of a necrobump here, but I only just noticed this reply. Thanks for the feedback from the perspective of a KD alum. I'm rapidly approaching alum status myself for the MBA with the MSF to come next year. I have actually made some significant progress into the networking and information phase of breaking into ER and I'm willing to take the long road if necessary. I second @Grow or Go's glowing endorsement of KD and have likewise had an almost infallible track record or professors.

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

    • 1
Apr 13, 2014

I was just having an 'ah-ha' moment about online education and thought I would share. How does one study for the GMAT or the GRE? We study at home independently, using books, our computer, and most of the time using online resources. Why don't college admissions interviewers question the validity of that? Is it because we have to go to a testing center to take the GRE/GMAT? A lot of online programs make students take proctored exams and/or take their tests at testing centers. There is a stigma but probably because of a few things. If employers had a way for employees to prove their "worth," so to speak, then would it matter where someone received their education?

I personally think this would change things across the board. This would force employers to come up with a way to measure skill for an entry-level employee versus a more experienced employee. This would also force employees to "step-up" with the skills they need for a particular job they want. This would also force schools to make sure they were offering the type of education that employers are looking for.

For example, Company X wants to hire an entry-level analyst who has some experience in SQL, experience working in teams, and experience giving presentations. Company X comes up with a "test" to measure these skills. This test would be standardized and fair (fair is subjective-let's assume for now that it's fair). Mr. G has a degree in math from a "no-name" school and doesn't have SQL experience. Mr. G finds a free tutorial online to teach himself SQL in a few days (he only needed "some experience" in SQL). No resume needed to take the skills test from Company X, offered online. Out of all 10 applicants, Mr. G gets the highest score. He then gets an interview and submits his resume. He must take the test one more time "in person."

Results: Company X is happy because they feel confident the employee has the skills necessary for the position. Mr. G feels he has the right qualifications for the job and feels he has earned it on skill, more so than personality or looks or other subjective items. The interview sealed the deal to evaluate whether or not Mr. G would fit in with their culture or not (subjective but seems necessary).

Negatives: A person could claim discrimination if not hired even though they had the skills necessary for the job. A way to counter this is to allow people to see their scores, but not how they did against other applicants. Maybe someone scored higher on the "soft skills," than on the "hard skills" against another applicant and the employer was more interested in that.

Apr 23, 2014

Thanks Rhodium. Info is greatly appreciated and will help people like me in making our decisions about grad school.

Apr 24, 2014
wareagle4230:

Thanks Rhodium. Info is greatly appreciated and will help people like me in making our decisions about grad school.

Anytime. Reach out whenever if you have questions as you go through the process

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Apr 23, 2014

Sounds like you are going to be successful at whatever it is you do, and now you have that part figured out. Good luck, I hope somebody gives you a shot.

Apr 24, 2014
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"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today."
-Twain

Mar 5, 2017
Oct 14, 2018
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