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 choosemy 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!
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 , 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, 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 and GPA, Wall Street simply wasn't hiring anyone (this was 2012) and that my efforts would be better 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, , EY, , , , and (among others). I had conducted a , 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 . 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 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.