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Comments (20)

Mar 26, 2008 - 10:24pm

First, some recruiting timelines to consider:

For summer associate positions in summer 2009, recruiting starts in Oct/Nov '08 (presentations, cocktails, schmoozefests, etc. in Oct/Nov, resume/cover letter submissions from Nov-Jan, and interviews in late-Jan and Feb).

For full-time associate positions that start in fall 2010, offers are made to summer associates in Aug '09; recruiting for full-time on campus begins as early as Sept 2009 and offers are usually made by Dec 2009.

So the recruiting window that the class of 2010 is impacted (at least with traditional wall street recruiting) is between Fall 2008 and Fall 2009.

In my opinion, the job market downturn has barely begun - it's going to get worse, and likely be at its worst precisely between Fall 2008 and Fall 2009. I hate to say it, but I think the Class of 2010 is in for a rough time when it comes to Wall Street jobs.

Whether that impacts the Class of 2011 is another matter -- depends whether you think the job market will be weak through 2010.

The flipside of that is, if the Class of 2011 indeed has better job prospects, it'll be harder to be admitted simply because applications for this upcoming year will be even more competitive than this year (downturns tend to boost application volume). So trying to time the market may not work if it's going to be harder to get in next year anyhow.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 31, 2008 - 5:06am

Alex

I just wanted to get your thoughts on joint degrees.

I have prior IB/PE experience and I have been accepted to a top 7 MBA program as well as to one of the government schools (SAIS/Fletcher/Kennedy) to get the combined 3 year degree. Long-term I might have an interest in going into government (20 year plan) but for the near future I would like to go back to PE/HF space.

Would you suggest perhaps starting with the government school this year and start the MBA program next year given the state of the economy? or perhaps start the MBA now and then decide on the government school after I complete the MBA degree.

Mar 31, 2008 - 7:38pm
03banker:
Alex

I just wanted to get your thoughts on joint degrees.

I have prior IB/PE experience and I have been accepted to a top 7 MBA program as well as to one of the government schools (SAIS/Fletcher/Kennedy) to get the combined 3 year degree. Long-term I might have an interest in going into government (20 year plan) but for the near future I would like to go back to PE/HF space.

Would you suggest perhaps starting with the government school this year and start the MBA program next year given the state of the economy? or perhaps start the MBA now and then decide on the government school after I complete the MBA degree.

As much as we can speculate about the economy, I personally wouldn't try to have my big life decisions dictated by a crystal ball. Do what you need to that is best for you. Trying to time the economy is like chasing rainbows. You can make all the reasonable assumptions you want, and you could still be wrong (who really foresaw 9/11? Or even more recently, everyone had a sense that the housing/credit market would come back to earth, but everyone had a different opinion as to WHEN).

So yes, if history is a guide, the economy will recover. It goes in cycles But honestly no one will really know exactly when.

As for the joint degree, know that it'll be driven by the MBA, not by the MA - the MA won't really impact your career; most people that I've known do it for the old fashioned reasons of wanting an education (learning for its own sake; the intellectual pursuit of something) and less for practical reasons. If it's something that you're truly interested in and you can afford it, by all means go for it. But if you expect it to yield a lot of tangible benefits in terms of recruiting or incremental salary increases, then stick with the MBA.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 27, 2008 - 3:01pm

Great info Alex. For those of us already committed to B-School this fall, any tips for succeeding in an IB career search despite the poor market? What is the best way to stand out from the herd (or get ahead of the herd entirely) when applying for a limited number of IB spots?

Mar 27, 2008 - 7:47pm

Good question. In short, luck.

Banks are notoriously short-term minded, and their headcount reflects that - they overhire during good times, and underhire during bad times.

The most important thing (whether for IB or any other career) is to keep your expectations realistic - doesn't mean you shouldn't have ambitious goals, but know that you may not get what you want.

For example, it may be great if you can get that Goldman job (and you should try at least), but know that in a downturn, it's frankly going to be more competitive with less spots -- and you will have to look at a wider range of firms than you may expect - not just the big banks, but you may have to settle for jobs at a mid-market. It may not be in New York, but perhaps in a regional center you may not necessarily like (Houston, North Carolina, Atlanta, etc.).

Also, in good times or bad, it comes down to fit -- it's about schmoozing the bankers who come to recruit on campus - because the biggest litmus test isn't really about your spreadsheet/finance skills (that's a given), it's about whether they want to be around you consistently at 2am, or can they rely on you to get work done on a Sunday night, are you the kind of guy/gal they can be around for 14 hour days. There's a bit of "cabin fever" when you work in a deal team (as any banker here can attest to), so how you gell with your future colleagues is paramount. With a bad job market, it just becomes even more competitive, and also you're dealing with the fact that the bankers you're schmoozing/interacting with as well are probably in poor spirits -- morale is usually pretty low when you're working in an environment where folks are getting laid off -- you have job insecurity, plus the fact that banks can cut a little too deep and you end up taking on the additional work being done by those who were let go.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

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Mar 27, 2008 - 8:01pm

Alex - few questions for you:

1) If I have a 3.5 GPA coming out of a target school - I know that technically that puts me at or above the GPA average for every school except for Wharton...somehow I can't help but think that it's too low for me to be a competitive applicant. If I have a 740 GMAT and BB work experience - do I have a shot at the top BSchools? Ie - Harvard, Wharton, Chicago, Columbia?

2) Is there a huge difference, prestige/value wise between MBAs from H/S/W vs: the remaining "elite eight" schools?

3) How can a BB banker differentiate themselves from the remainder of the applicant pack?

4)Do AdCom committees take into account things like the effect of cancer on two years of someone's undergraduate academic record? Or do extenuating circumstances not really matter?

Mar 29, 2008 - 2:57am

srr636,

(1) GPA is fine -- it's about "range" not about being right at the average. There is no rigid formula, but a good rule of thumb is the further away your GPA is from the average, the stronger your gmat score needs to be. Middle 80% GPAs for H/S/W is around 3.2 - 3.8 (or 3.3 - 3.7, something like that); middle 80% GMATs are around 660-760. So with what you stated, HBS, Wharton, Chicago, or Columbia won't reject you for your numbers or your BB experience; it comes down to a combination of how well you execute the application, your extracurriculars in college (and any while you were working, but adcoms won't expect that from BB bankers given your hours; they know), and luck -- it can be very subjective - while there are "guidelines", the adcom reader has carte blanche to admit or reject you for any reason or no reason, much like a woman can do to a guy.

(2) There is a difference in prestige and reputation, but how that prestige and reputation translates into actual differences in career opportunities is debatable. In other words, most will have the opinion that H/S/W are more highly regarded schools than say Columbia, MIT, Chicago, Kellogg, or Tuck, but does that really drive (or even impact) a person's decision to bring you in for an interview, or even to hire you? Most folks who are in the position to hire top MBAs (and know their worth - by paying them MBA-type comp) know well enough that there are just as likely to be idiots at H/S/W as there are superstars at Chicago or Kellogg - in other words, there is a difference in reputation and prestige, but not enough to the point where most recruiters are going to assume that the school name equates to the individual.

(3) I've mentioned this in another thread, but in short you either have to have done it in college (with your extracurriculars), you have strong pedigree across your resume, and/or you quit banking after the 2-year analyst stint and did something completely different (i.e. started your own palm oil plantation in Africa, or worked at the Museum of Modern Art in a bus dev role, or something that outside of the traditional corporate realm).

(4) In all honesty, they really don't even if they say they do. Personal illness, family illness, family financial crises, lack of focus/maturity, and so forth cover virtually all the explanations. This sounds glib, but as admirable as it may be to recover from something life threatening to become "normal", most of the "overcoming struggle" stories have real weight when it swings from one extreme to another -- from overcoming something life-threatening in order to achieve something exceptional. It's the "Lance Armstrong" syndrome -- if you recovered from cancer to become average, then it will get a nod and a "glad you're doing well' -- but if you if you overcame cancer and then went on to graduate near the top of your class with some small awards for your community efforts within your college, that is what will raise eyebrows.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 28, 2008 - 4:16pm

I've been studying b-school admissions pretty extensively for the past year in preparation for applying this fall (although I decided to wait to apply until next fall in the 1st round).

A 3.5 from a target with a 740 + BB experience makes you competitive at every school (at least on paper)

You will have to differentiate yourself through a cogent/convincing essay package, great recs, solid extra-curriculars/leadership roles

If you can demonstrate that you are well rounded and have sufficient reason for needing an MBA you should be a virtual lock for top programs with your stats (even in the increasingly competitive environment)

Mar 29, 2008 - 9:15am

I would just throw one tidbit in regards to MBAApply's advice regarding differentiating yourself. While I agree that doing something completely off the beaten path may improve your chances of admissions at a top program, you must keep in mind the ultimate goal of landing a job afterwards. If you look at biographies of successful finiancial professionals, almost all of them had a consistent string of experience pre and post-MBA. You don't see safaris in Africa or the like, ever. So, think about what you may be turning down before turning down that PE job at a boutique to spend your years running a non-profit. It may give you the bump you need to get into HBS as opposed to Chicago, but come recruiting the guy that has demonstrated clear career goals and has relevant experience is going to beat you out regardless of your degree.

CompBanker

Mar 29, 2008 - 10:28am

To point number 2, I agree with MBAApply for the most part. However, the one industry that really favors H/S is PE. All the top BB banks and MBB consulting firms will recruit at all the top schools, but the PE firms only seem to go to H/S. If you look at their employment profiles, H/S sends about 12% of its class into PE, WHarton sends about 8%, and places like Chicago, Columbie, etc. typically send 2-4%. Stanford also has a significant advantage due to location and alumni strength for VC.

Mar 29, 2008 - 11:44am

But with PE, that's a self-selection thing too. H/S sends more grads there precisely because they have more grads that are qualified to go into PE, and not because they went to H/S. In other words, to get into PE post-MBA, it's more a function of the individual than the school - you basically need prior PE experience (and preferably with a good fun) and you'll find more kids at H/S with that kind of experience than anywhere else. They're not taking some random person at HBS who worked at P&G for example.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 29, 2008 - 3:38pm

why do people with ib experiance make up such a small percentage? is it because there aren't very many of them, or just that they get no love from b-schools.

is an analyst at one of the bulge brackets with a 700+ gmat not a shoe in for a top business school?

Mar 29, 2008 - 3:47pm

when they say that X percentage comes from investment banking, I think they mean straight from investment banking. As in, thats what they did just before coming to B-School.

I don't think it means that only x percentage has banking experience. I'm sure alot of them did banking before PE but these people would only go under the PE category.

Mar 29, 2008 - 5:22pm

Precisely. In the old days (i.e. 1990s) most bankers tended to go straight to b-school right after their 2 or 3 year analyst program. In the last decade or so, it has become more common that banker types do their 2 or 3 years, then do one year in PE, or corp dev or some other non-banking job before applying to b-school. However, with b-schools (particularly H/S/W) encouraging younger folks to apply, the pendulum may swing back a little - the percentage of folks going straight to b-school from banking will likely increase.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 29, 2008 - 6:55pm

does being a female help you out at all in terms of bschool apps? i know that bschools are interested in getting more women into their programs, but not sure to what extent it makes a difference?

Mar 31, 2008 - 7:29pm
srr636:
does being a female help you out at all in terms of bschool apps? i know that bschools are interested in getting more women into their programs, but not sure to what extent it makes a difference?

In short, no. Yes, b-schools are interested in wanting more women in the class, but they aren't going to create dual admissions standards to do that. What they are trying to do is to make sure as many women apply. There will be folks who will use whatever datapoints (usually GMATs or some anecdotal evidence or something an adcom may have said off-the-cuff) to prove that they have lower standards for women. From what I've seen, I don't see anything systemic. I've seen women who I was surprised to have gotten in, and likewise I've seen some exceptionally high accomplished women get dinged. People can argue forever about whether women have it easier or not, but the fact is, there isn't enough proof to say one way or the other. For example, the applicant pool is stuck at around 70/30 or 65/35, which also happens to be the rough male/female ratios for the actual class composition. Some can argue that the 30% women on the whole are less qualified than the men (so that even if the percentages are the same, there's dual standards) -- or some can argue that women aren't any more or less qualified, and the fact that the ratios are the same between the applicant pool AND the actual incoming class itself proves there is no dual standards.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

Mar 29, 2008 - 8:29pm

Alex, with B-schools' trend towards accepting younger applicants, does that mean that those of us who waited to apply until they had 4-5 years of work experience are more or less SOL? I.e, when we had 2 years, b-schools wanted 4-5, now that we have 4-5, b-schools are back to accepting those w/2-3?

Mar 31, 2008 - 7:30pm
ebrunner:
Alex, with B-schools' trend towards accepting younger applicants, does that mean that those of us who waited to apply until they had 4-5 years of work experience are more or less SOL? I.e, when we had 2 years, b-schools wanted 4-5, now that we have 4-5, b-schools are back to accepting those w/2-3?

It doesn't mean your SOL, but it means you better apply as soon as possible - like this upcoming year.

Alex Chu

Alex Chu
www.mbaapply.com

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