Attractiveness of Pre MBA Experience

Hey WSO!

As there is often discussion about what constitutes "elite work experience", I wanted to get everyone's thoughts on this matter. There is little to no disagreement that the traditional prestigious pre MBA roles are (IB, consulting, PE) etc. However, how is Big 4 audit or F500 FP&A / Corp Accounting experience viewed by Adcoms for top MBA programs? Now I am not talking about H/S/W but more in the range of lower Top 10 - 20 schools. Is an accounting based background perceived that negatively if a candidate aims to switch to a consulting role post MBA? I am trying to gauge the competitiveness of my profile for the range of schools I am aiming to apply for and I do realize its a holistic approach to admissions. Basically, are Adcoms going to be completely turned off by F200 FP&A experience and a CPA designation (Hint, yes that is my profile)? I realize its not the most thrilling experience which is why I want to pursue an MBA. I figured that if I started out my career in such a field, I might as well try to excel in it and at least secure my designation. Love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Cheers!

Comments (56)

 
2/17/17

I guess this type of experience is not only a turn off for Adcoms but WSO also :( lol

Free Consultation

We know you have questions as you prepare to apply to your target business schools. What are your chances of being admitted? How can you differentiate yourself from so many other applicants? What is the best way to showcase your accomplishments or mitigate your weaknesses? Start getting answers to all your questions by taking advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert from mbaMission’s Senior Consultant team. Learn more.

 
2/17/17

Yes, I agree with Strictly Bizness...

Just believe me: I'm a professional writer at EssayVikings company:) WOW!

 
2/17/17

That background will qualify you for top business schools, including M7, but you'll need to develop ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates with similar backgrounds. Some combination of 750+ GMAT, strong extracurriculars, especially good rec letters and/or unusually rapid career growth/other indicators of high performance at work. That background will also make you a viable candidate from an experience standpoint for IB/Consulting if that's your goal.

 
2/17/17

Agreed with the comments above. I had a somewhat similar profile to you, and I ended up at Booth. The work experience treated me just fine in consulting recruiting as well - just be a strong performer in your roles, don't be a dick to people, get involved with EC stuff and you'll be fine. Also, make sure you really know what you bring to the table / why you need b school to achieve your goals.

I did also score well on the GMAT (750) which helped, but I don't think a crazy good score is required for lots of schools in the 10-15 range

 
3/31/17

@ConsultingQuant That is so awesome that you ended up at Booth ( I wish lol).

Okay I feel more reassured that my work experience wont necessarily hinder my chances at pursuing the most MBA field that I want thanks to you both. I believe I have performed well in my roles and have had the opportunity to transition a few times. I always hear mixed reviews about this but are increases in salary an indication of career progression for adcoms? Also for schools in the 10-15 would a GMAT of 700-730 be sufficient to offset a lower gpa (3.1) with the assumption everything else in line in terms of recs, ECs, etc? I feel like a 750 will go a long way but not sure if I can hit that mark.

 
4/25/17

Why not? Your decision seems reasonable. Some friends of mine still do not think about experience despite of being MBA students. They even can not imagine what trouble waiting for them.

I didn't know anything about life until I learned how to write mba admission essay

 
4/27/17

Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts, appreciate it. Did you ever think about making your own business or smth? I think that if you're smart enough you can success in any business you'd like. My opinion.

 
 
4/27/17

peace corps is awesome... assuming if you were in the business development end helping do microfinance and stuff like that for small ventures and businesses in developing areas. teaching english mmm not so much but cool overall haha (just giving you shit but personally id only do it for the former :) which did u do?)

this also is a potent venom to swallow but ultimately you have to be VERY careful with making career decisions especially with love life -- meaning dont give up a great opportunity for a much more mediocre one for love. my senior year i decided to have no ties to any girls and not date so i wouldnt have any hopeless romantic side crop up and tell me to stay at some shitty job in CT so i could be with a girlfriend of a few years -- besides you guys stayed together through out peace corps or is this a two month thing?

 
4/27/17
shorttheworld wrote:

peace corps is awesome... assuming if you were in the business development end helping do microfinance and stuff like that for small ventures and businesses in developing areas. teaching english mmm not so much but cool overall haha (just giving you shit but personally id only do it for the former :) which did u do?)

this also is a potent venom to swallow but ultimately you have to be VERY careful with making career decisions especially with love life -- meaning dont give up a great opportunity for a much more mediocre one for love. my senior year i decided to have no ties to any girls and not date so i wouldnt have any hopeless romantic side crop up and tell me to stay at some shitty job in CT so i could be with a girlfriend of a few years -- besides you guys stayed together through out peace corps or is this a two month thing?

Did economic development in Peace Corps- mostly agribusiness, a little microfinance. Relationship started well before PC and lasted throughout, so have to factor it in career-wise.

 
4/27/17

Find temporary work. You'll have a good reason.

 
4/27/17

Find temp work, or if your financial situation allows, try to volunteer somewhere and make a difference. 6-8 months of temp back office-like work won't help your application at all, only your wallet, marginally.

Volunteering at a non-profit or starting your own should be easy, especially with the Peace Corps branding and experience you have. Go make a difference at home. You will undoubtedly have great application and essay material.

 
 
4/27/17

I did Peace Corps, which I'd say is more on the hardcore side of the spectrum, after 4 years of finance and before bschool. There are also things such as Technoserve. If you dig around there are a decent amount of programs out there. I enjoyed my experience but my expectations were nothing what my actual experience was. I got, as well as my peers, pretty jaded but I think that comes with the territory of actually being on the front lines of such work.

 
4/27/17

Appreciate the response - If you don't mind sharing, where did you do Peace Corps? And why did you choose PC over other options?

 
4/27/17

I was in a spanish speaking country. Honestly I didn't even look into other programs. I just always wanted to do the Peace Corps. I didn't even know other programs existed at the time I applied. I didn't really do much research, rather just applied to PC.

 
4/27/17

B-schools eat this stuff up, especially H and S. You see tons of kids that do IB for 2-3 years, and then go do a non-profit for a year or so while studying for the GMAT. Although to me it seems clear what these kids motivations are for doing the non-profit (i.e. they aren't really interested but know it makes them really well rounded and attractive as a candidate), the business schools absolutely love it. Go to gmatclub.com (sorry WSO, love you) to see a bunch of threads on this.

"They are all former investment bankers that were laid off in the economic collapse that Nancy Pelosi caused. They have no marketable skills, but by God they work hard."

 
4/27/17

Also another comment, while it might be something you consider to be rare and unique, you'd be surprised how many kids at bschool have experiences like this. While I'm sure it is no doubt helpful, it is not so out there to truly separate you from the pack. I think what happens is you are just compared to other nonprofit types. So as you stated do it because you want to not because it will help you - think of benefits as just icing on the cake.

Free Consultation

We know you have questions as you prepare to apply to your target business schools. What are your chances of being admitted? How can you differentiate yourself from so many other applicants? What is the best way to showcase your accomplishments or mitigate your weaknesses? Start getting answers to all your questions by taking advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert from mbaMission’s Senior Consultant team. Learn more.

 
 
4/27/17

"Great work experience" is relative to the overall narrative. What story would your audit -> valuation -> IB/PE tell? How is MBA a natural continuation of that story?

As an aside, Big 4 -> PE would be a very difficult jump without a family friend to pull you in.

 
4/27/17

I don't think it hurts you too much to have 6 years... so long as you're showing a positive progression

 
 
4/27/17

How did you go from analyst at hedge fund in college to paralegal. You need to do everything you can to get better experience if you intend on going to a top-tier school and transition into ER.

 
4/27/17
valuationGURU wrote:

How did you go from analyst at hedge fund in college to paralegal. You need to do everything you can to get better experience if you intend on going to a top-tier school and transition into ER.

My FT offer at the hedge fund where I interned was rescinded a week before graduation. i had to scramble to find a job because it was too late to do OCR, and it was the best I could get at the last minute.

 
4/27/17

If you were working at a hedge fund as an intern and had a full time offer, I am sure you have a solid background. Why can't you find a better job than the two listed above (investor relations/paralegal)? What city are you in?

On another note, is an MBA necessary for equity research? I was under the impression that it wasn't. Might want to go networking, CFA, route? I don't know..

 
4/27/17
valuationGURU wrote:

If you were working at a hedge fund as an intern and had a full time offer, I am sure you have a solid background. Why can't you find a better job than the two listed above (investor relations/paralegal)? What city are you in?

On another note, is an MBA necessary for equity research? I was under the impression that it wasn't. Might want to go networking, CFA, route? I don't know..

I'm in New York. I went to a T10 LAC, but I majored in European history--I was at a hedge fund that is unusually friendly to liberal arts majors.

I've gotten interviews at consulting firms through networking but nothing so far has panned out. I've been told my stats are high enough to get into an M7 with just the paralegal job though, which is why I thought I could network as an IR person, go to Chicago or NYU, and then transition to equity research post-MBA.

It seems like the job market for ER is really bad right now, but that's just my superficial impression.

 
4/27/17

I have thought about the IR route and have spoken with a number of individuals in the industry (I just graduated from b-school). While I appreciate the exposure to investors and a specific company/industry, my opinion is: don't do it. IR is a great career path if you already have the technical skills (those technical skills by the way are what distinguish a good IR person from a mediocre one but some reason are not necessarily held in as high regard as other skills in the profession). It sounds like you're fairly early in your career, so my advice would be get those technical skills first especially if your end goal is ER.

 
 
4/27/17

Hello

I am planning to break into Investment Banking/Consultancy after taking my MBA.

What kind of Pre-MBA working experience is more important: As a corporate finance Analyst/Associate or some general management experience as Deputy Managing Director?

What of the above two roles will add myself more value at the moment of application.

Thanks

 
 
4/27/17

If the first job is more closely aligned with what you want to do long term, take the offer--given it won't put you on the streets. This seems like a no-brainer.

 
 
4/27/17

Question: Why "VC or IB"?

 
4/27/17

Agreed with the comment above. The paths to IB and VC are vastly different. Given your major, GPA, and general lack of experience regarding the financial sector I actually think your best path to IB is to work at your current position for 2-3 years (to gain experience and show continuity), engage in some meaningful leadership roles in at least 1 extracurricular activity, possibly take 1 or 2 business related classes at a local college and get A's to help further prove that you have the ability to perform academically and then either A) try to land a finance related job through networking or B) apply to a business school that will allow you to career change and transition into banking.

Your first goal should be to learn as much about the various finance paths to ensure that you actually are interested in these fields. You will definitely have to network as you have a few things working against you. Good luck.

 
4/27/17

Thanks junkbondswap. I appreciate the advice and am heeding it on learning more about the different fields of finance. I have been doing a lot of research and picked up a couple of books on finance careers over the weekend. ER struck me as interesting. I think with my background in journalism the research side appeals to me. I fully intend to get my MBA so I think a good path would be to work in ER for 2-3 years then get my MBA and maybe continue in ER or move into HF as those two seem to have some overlap that makes me believe it would be the most natural transition. The difficulty would seem to be breaking into ER.

 
 
4/27/17

1+2=3... so yes.

I even had full time work experience during undergrad that the adcoms considered full time experience because I only had 1 year post undergrad full time experience.

make it hard to spot the general by working like a soldier

 
 
4/27/17

First of all, congrats on the GMAT! Nice score to have before applying. Two quick remarks/questions:

  1. Any reason you didn't include the last B in point 4? Is it because they offer "lesser" exit ops towards PE?
  2. If you're serious about GSB I would consider getting involved with startups or with something a bit further out. From what I've heard they tend to be into the more tech-oriented/eclectic type.
 
4/27/17
  1. From what I have researched (read: I know nothing), I did not see as favorable exits, yea
  2. I think the odds of me picking/finding a "successful" startup are too low and risky. I've noticed HBS/GSB really like people who have had a large impact on others, so I am trying to figure out where to improve upon this aspect in either extracurriculars or direct work
 
4/27/17

Playing the extracurricular card well can really make a difference. I would even look for more leadership potential than impact. For example, doing volunteer grunt work for the ICRC could help hundreds if not thousands of people during an outbreak, but having leadership experience in a smaller, "less effective" NGO could make you grow more in the grand scheme of things. Then again, it's all about how you spin it in your essays/interviews.

 
4/27/17

Very true. Appreciate the advice! I have a lot to think about.

 
4/27/17

Best of luck. Finance guys with 750 plus are a dime a dozen. Hopefully you aren't a while, indian or asian male.

 
4/27/17

Yup, which is why I am trying to figure out how to be more than a run-of-the-mill "finance guy"

 
4/27/17
"HFFBALLfan123" wrote:

Best of luck. Finance guys with 750 plus are a dime a dozen. Hopefully you aren't a while, indian or asian male.

I am an Indian male who started off in one of the BB in the east coast and I approve this comment... sadly :(

 
4/27/17

Have you applied to business school? How did you fare?

 
4/27/17

No, will do in a couple of years. Already have a masters and took some courses at one of H/S/W to know enough how things work there for an Indian male.

 
4/27/17

PE MF is the best path to H/S

 
4/27/17

Is it recommended to lateral to a "better" bank such as Evercore to better my PE recruitment prospects? I don't think it's worth the extra year I'd stay in banking

 
4/27/17

I wouldn't lateral to another bank to potentially maximize PE placement.
Try to go straight into PE. Besides that, I am afraid that spinning your story into something that may actually get you into any of those places is something that you may want to discuss with some kind of consultant.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

 
4/27/17

Would agree it's not worth lateraling. Just do well and you'll get a good enough PE placement

 
 
4/27/17

1-Click to Unlock All Comments - 100% FREE

Why do I need to be signed in?
WSO is a knowledge-sharing community that depends on everyone being able to pitch in when they know something.
+ Bonus: 6 Free Financial Modeling Lessons with 1-Click Signup ($199 value)
 
4/27/17