"Early Career," etc. Business School Options

I'm finishing up my junior year at a top liberal arts school, and I'm weighing my options for whatever I end up doing postgrad. I'm an Economics and Classics double major, with a ~3.8 GPA (inducted into Phi Beta Kappa). I'm also an analyst with the school's Investment Club/Society, which manages ~$1.4 million of the endowment. In addition to the standard Econ curriculum, I've taken through the upper level Finance/Financial Accounting offerings.

My preference is to stay in school after graduating, especially given the labor market prognosis. Rather than pursuing a one-year undergrad add-on degree (McIntire at UVA, MS Finance at Vandy, etc.) - which I feel would be somewhat redundant given the finance electives I have taken - I'm interested in earning an MBA.

It appears that, generally, the upper echelon of MBA programs welcome/encourage applications from college seniors and others with minimal experience, a reversal from previous form. The schools that have a more theoretical focus (Chicago, for example) seem to be most welcoming. Lesser schools appear to still require work experience, either implicitly or explicitly.

Provided I have a strong gmat score, strong letters from professors (this is certain), and a strong summer internship experience, would I have a reasonable shot of acceptance at any of the top 20 or so schools?

TIA

Comments (13)

Apr 30, 2010

I don't understand why you're afraid of this job market when you won't be recruiting for another half-year or so, but you're willing to throw your hat into the ring against a ton of other people who have work experience to get into a top b-school?

The problem a lot of people have with thinking they can get into b-school directly from undergrad is that companies who hire you after you get you graduate DO care about what you did before you got into school. I know schools are trending younger but there's a big difference between a couple of years of work experience and no work experience.

Get a job. That's my advice. If your credentials are what you say they are, you should be able to get a job somewhere.

Apr 30, 2010

agreed. you should be able to get a job as im sure your schools alumni network is pretty strong, so i dont know exactly why youre worried. at least work for two years before you see bschool as an option.

and you wont get in. trust me, its made very clear that for top MBA, you need work experience. and if you dont go top mba then an mba isnt worth it altogether

Apr 30, 2010

I'm concerned about the job market because I'll be recruiting in less than six months, and my impending summer internship, while something that will confer considerable substantive experience, has zero name recognition, just like my undergrad school (since it's tiny and in the middle of nowhere, although highly ranked).

Apr 30, 2010

Highly ranked is definitely not useless. Tiny schools that are highly ranked and prestigious still carry weight - unless of course it is highly ranked by a few alumni and no one else (or something like that). I would agree with the previous posters - limited work experience is not the same thing as zero work experience. The purpose of the MBA is not just what it can do for you, but what you can do for it and your classmates. Coming from a small ugrad, no work experience and a bit of club experience on your resume will not be a big standout as required by top MBA programs. Additionally, I don't see why you'd want to run to an MBA program without some quality experience to really see what you want to do, build some experience, some background and some marketable skills.

Recruiting in general, although not booming, is definitely up. Don't run away from this market, push for something, excel in it, advance and then push for the B school option, if you still want it. Don't rush the end of your academia - the MBA is usually the last step - let it come when you're ready and really need it; not when you just don't want to be bothered by the burden of job hunting.

Apr 30, 2010

There are a handful of straight out of undergrads and this is growing, but unless your daddy was a rockstar and can hook you up with a job after, would advise against it. A lot of these students had little to add in class (don't add anything meaningful to class discussion due to a lack of life/business experience), have problems recruiting (except for the consultancies) and you lose the call option later in life to career switch which the MBA is all about.

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Apr 30, 2010

My ugrad school is W&L, to provide some clarification.

One of my biggest concerns IS recruiting without having had prior experience.

Apr 30, 2010

I've never heard Booth mentioned among the schools that are trending toward younger applicants. HBS is really the only one I've heard is doing this. Regardless, this isn't the 1980s anymore -- you still need at least a few years of experience before you can even contemplate applying to HBS or another top-flight bschool. Also, the schools that do accept candidates with relatively less work experience are looking for absolute freaking superstars. Based on what you've provided, you seem accomplished, but definitely not a superstar.

Apr 30, 2010
whateverittakes:

Also, the schools that do accept candidates with relatively less work experience are looking for absolute freaking superstars. Based on what you've provided, you seem accomplished, but definitely not a superstar.

I stand corrected. Still, the above condition remains the thorn in your side.

Apr 30, 2010

http://www.chicagobooth.edu/fulltime/admissions/ea...
http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/collegestudents....
From Wharton FAQ's:

"We welcome applicants directly from undergraduate school who are motivated and exhibit strong leadership and managerial potential. In preparation for the Wharton MBA program, the stronger your quantitative background, the better prepared you will be to take finance, statistics, accounting, economics, and other quantitative courses offered in our curriculum. Calculus and/or statistics are good foundation courses. We do accept students without this type of background, but we like to see evidence of a capacity to handle these types of topics (e.g., strong quantitative GMAT scores, strong academic performance in quantitative subjects). We are also interested in your history of involvement in extra-curricular activities, community service, and hobbies. We advise undergraduates to apply in the Fall prior to the academic year in which they want to enroll in the program. Admission to the program is contingent upon successful completion of the undergraduate degree. We do not offer deferred admissions for those applying while still in an undergraduate program."

Apr 30, 2010

and from Darden:

"Darden does not require a minimum number of years' work experience prior to entering the MBA program, and it is important for you to assess your own readiness when deciding to apply. Successful candidates are able to demonstrate strength in our criteria regardless of the number of years of their work experience."

Are all these assertions that schools make legitimate? Or is it absolutely a waste of my time to apply for MBAs? I plan on taking the GMAT this summer regardless (and pocketing the score for 5 years), and applying to the UVA McIntire program, Vanderbilt's MS Finance, and a few others.

Apr 30, 2010
Modern Day Yuppie:

and from Darden:

"Darden does not require a minimum number of years' work experience prior to entering the MBA program, and it is important for you to assess your own readiness when deciding to apply. Successful candidates are able to demonstrate strength in our criteria regardless of the number of years of their work experience."

Are all these assertions that schools make legitimate? Or is it absolutely a waste of my time to apply for MBAs? I plan on taking the GMAT this summer regardless (and pocketing the score for 5 years), and applying to the UVA McIntire program, Vanderbilt's MS Finance, and a few others.

They are legitimate because they use the term "requirement" and its other forms. A 700+ GMAT is not required to apply to HBS, but it damn sure is PREFERRED.

Regarding "strength in other criteria regardless of work experience in years," you have to understand what you're up against. You're competing with HYP undergrads with 3.6+ GPAs, 750+ GMATs, 2-year stints at MBB consulting shops or BB banks, and other intangible qualities that make them a cut above the rest. This is the type of applicant that gets in with minimal work experience.

Apr 30, 2010

All the points posters have made above are good reasons for not trying to go to business school right out of undergrad. But the most important point is one that hasn't been said yet...

The biggest value of working before going back to business school is that it gives you a chance to figure out what you want to do -- or at the least, figure out what you don't want to do. Most people are going to decide that their first job out of undergrad is not the career they want long term, as it's hard to understand what kind of work you'll enjoy and be good at on a day-to-day basis until you've actually experienced it. Business school offers just about the best reset button you can get if you want to change careers while staying in the business world.

If you don't know what you want to do yet then you definitely should NOT go to business school yet. B-school is not designed as an opportunity to spend 2 years deciding what you want to do. Because summer internship recruiting at most of the top schools starts within a couple of weeks of the day you set foot on campus, it's important that you have some idea of what it is that you want to do when you graduate with your MBA. That doesn't mean that you won't change your mind -- many students do. But if you arrive on campus without an idea of what you want you won't have time to explore all the options available.

Apr 30, 2010
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