Bschool Cross-Roads

Foodinthelobby's picture
Rank: Monkey | 35

I'll preface and apologize for the novel below ahead of time. Im at a bit of an inflection point in my career and could certainly use some thoughts . As background, I went to a non-target and managed to get into a 2nd tier BB in one of their top IBD coverage groups. From there I was able to leverage that into a lower-tier MM PE fund ($300mm fund size) however have found that its really not for me - I find PE to very slow and am quite bored as well as hate the small team environment vs banking. It could be the smaller MM PE experience that has tainted my view on the job. I took the GMAT and did well, 730+ / 3.8 GPA in college and spent time volunteering in a 3rd world country for a few months between banking and PE so I feel like I have a well-rounded background and story for B-School.
Im struggling with the decision to return to school and take out loans without having a definitive idea of what it is I want to get out of an MBA. I have the opportunity to return back to my BB group as an associate which further increases the opportunity cost as I would actually make more in banking than at my current fund. With the PE environment changing (fewer funds + tough fund raising environment = fewer seats and an estimate of 25% of funds - mostly 07 vintage expect to close within the next few years) and no guarantee that I could get into a fund post-MBA, or at least a large enough one that the experience is different, I've been leaning toward returning back to banking and doing a top PT program. I've viewed several top schools and some observations that stick out to me are the following:
1/3 are usually from top consulting shops going to return to their firms who are usually footing the bill (need to factor this in when looking at employment stats)
1/3 - 1/2 Are usually career changers (not sure I am looking to change into a career that I couldn't already get into or have interest in joining)
-The rest want the two year break and /or need the MBA to advance
I certainly see the value of an MBA from a branding point of view, especially given the fact that I'm from an NT but I really do fear doing an MBA and then ending back up in a job I could have received without one or at least doing one from a top PT program (im in the chicagoland area so think Booth or Kellogg) and reducing my cost. I have no doubt that I would have a blast at an MBA program and expand my network but after two years I would be saddled with debt and potentially -further behind in my career. The only program I would feel really compelled about taking two years out of work for is HBS/Stanford and such programs are a crap shoot to get in. I know a decent number of post-mbas from top schools that tried to do the BB->PE->MBA ->PE and it didn't work out for them or got in and were later pushed out and now jump from fund to fund without any stability. I feel like a lot of people on this board focus so much on getting into PE but staying in PE really doesn't get the attention it really should. Maybe I'm being a conservative cynic but I feel like without a game changing brand name (H/S/W), I'm better of going back to my BB where I have a good standing and know I will get paid near the top of my class and try to do a PT program (they have said they would be supportive and foot some of the bill), especially since I'm not sure what it is I want to do post-mba and have had a negative experience in PE- not that banking has a growing future but its certainly not going away. Am I being too short-sighted in my thinking? My big dilemma is if I want to go back to my BB, I have to go back now thus shutting off the B-School opportunity for at least the near term.

Comments (6)

Sep 5, 2013

Foodinthelobby, let me know if you'd like to grab coffee or a drink one of these days in downtown Chicago to discuss.

Sep 6, 2013

What are your basic thoughts on staying in PE long term as Foodinthelobby said. I am also in his boat and have struggled to plan for what you do if you go to a new fund post b school as a Senior Associate or VP. Then the fund blows up or you just don't work out. I guess you could probably go to banking or lending or something like that, but I wonder if there are any people that have gone to a PE firm post b school where it didn't work out and they end up doing something totally different.

Sep 5, 2013

I'm seeing a >50-60% chance at an admit to an M7 if the references are there and you come off as an interesting person.

I'm not sure if that's what you want or if that can help you. But there are worse ways to take a two year vacation than an MBA.

I'm not sure if Harvard and prior PE experience can get you into Blackstone. I will leave that for the guys who work in that industry.

Sep 6, 2013

Are you excited by the propsect of going back to the bank to be an associate? I know you mentioned you're not sure what you want to do, but just curious if the associate gig actually is something you want to do. I see that as the big question because if you're not, and you aren't in to PE, then an MBA might be the perfect pivot point for you to figure out what you want to do.

I typically think that going to bschool is stupid if you don't know what you want to do, but in your case, you've got a great shot at M7. Assuming you don't want to go back into banking, it would be a great way to stop going in a direction you don't like and re-pivot to something you do like, bring a solid skillset and great brand MBA. That being said, if the banking job is something you'd be excited about, and you can see yourself becoming a VP and up at the bank, then what's the point in leaving for bschool (unless you just want a break, which it doesn't seem like you do). It sort of sounds to me like you're not that into going back, you're just worried about wasting the opportunity. That's just my impression though.

Basically every "should I go to bschool" question comes down to figuring out what you want to do, and then charting your course to get there.

Sep 6, 2013

Honestly I think you're pretty level headed about your whole situation. You understand that an MBA can be helpful, but you're not drinking the Kool-Aid either.

In my opinion, if you're pretty certain that you'll be staying in finance (whether it's banking, research, inv mgmt, etc) then at this point I don't think going full-time is worth it from a career standpoint. In other words, if you do go back full-time, it's really for personal reasons (make new friends, take 2 years off, find your future spouse, a swan song to your youth, etc - and there's nothing wrong with going back for these reasons: more folks are there for these reasons than they'd want to admit).

Again, if you're looking at it from a career standpoint and you don't feel that the "personal development" is worth your money to go full-time, then by all means I would look at part-time programs and call it a day.

Sep 10, 2013