Female Veteran, Cybersecurity, MBA aspirations

Averre's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 24

Here goes.

I'm at a big four consulting firm. I went to a top 20 undergrad, ok grades (adjusting to civilian life and disabilities was a factor), humanities major. Cybersecurity, aviation background. I am nowhere near prepared for an MBA program, but I could run circles around our Ivy interns this summer. Then Duke EMBA reached out to me and got the gears turning. I never thought I'd have a near perfect ASVAB and end up in the military. I never thought I'd be smart enough to graduate from my undergrad university. I never thought I'd try for an MBA. Not to go all female, but frankly, no one put any of those ideas in my head growing up. It was all literature and fashion.

Now that the ideas are there, and I accomplished two of the three, I crazily want an MBA, from an M7. I'm intimidated by the debt, but I'm more afraid of complacency or not being challenged. I have 6 months left of GI Bill. If anyone has any guidance, prep programs or scholarship suggestions, please message me. I don't know if an EMBA is worth the debt. I'm 30, I'm not sure if that's too old for a traditional program. Cornell popped up with a one-year tech MBA.

Would love insight on that as well.

Comments (11)

Aug 27, 2019

Well first of thank you for your service, I would make sure to not take debt that you know you can't pay off. Generally MBA programs are two years but I don't know if you have preference for two years or one year. Also, 30 is not old for an MBA, you are still young. There are people in there 40s+ getting their M.B.A. I am not going to lie, it does get more difficult the older the get but you sound like you the experience.

If someone has better advice or can help this person, please post here or send this individual a P.M.

"It's okay, I'll see you on the other side"

Aug 27, 2019

Thanks Fun!

    • 1
Aug 27, 2019

At a high level, your profile is quite attractive. Female veterans, yet alone, female veterans with consulting experience are coveted. Focus on execution of recommendations and a score of 730+, and you'll have very strong chances at the M7, especially given the five-year downturn in applications. I'd recommend you apply with anything above 700 honestly.

Thank you for your service.

    • 2
Most Helpful
Aug 27, 2019

@Linda Abraham or other seasoned MBA consultants that frequent WSO are probably the best equipped to advise you on this.

I think MBA vs EMBA depends on what your near term goals are and profile. I tend to think EMBA is for someone that is quite seasoned in a particular industry, probably has reached a decent level of seniority, and looking to give themselves a boost or check off a box needed for c-suite aspirations (I'm probably generalizing a bit). IIRC from the last time I skimmed Booth and Wharton EMBA, average years of experience is 10-12+.

If you're 30 you're probably more likely to look at an MBA program. Besides simply having aspirations to get an MBA, o you have any particular fields/industry/career roles you want to pursue? Do you want to stay in consulting (with the old firm or move to a new one)? Do you want to do something in cyber security or tech? In what capacity?

Depending on what you want to achieve, that also helps answer the '1 year' or '2 year' MBA question. If you're looking to stay in consulting, maybe you can just get away with a 1 year program (where, depending on the timing of the program, you may not have a summer term for internships). A 2 year program is usually popular because it provides more time to network and discover what you want, and it provides that summer block to do an internship (which helps you pivot into a new industry if you're looking to hit the restart button and try something new). For example, maybe someone from marketing wants to jump into finance. She focuses on landing an investment banking internship, and gets one with JPM for the summer. Banks use the summer internship as a 10+ week interview to recruit people for FT. She has a great summer, lands the offer, and can now choose to either go back to JPM, or recruit for another bank with the experience (and demonstrated performance from offer received) she gained.

EDIT: To add, having a summer also allows you to "try before you buy". So in the above example, if the person was gunning for finance, tried it and hated it, she can now go and target something else for FT recruiting. With a one year program (wherein timing doesn't allow for a summer term) you don't have that option. Though some 1 yr programs may have it (I think INSEAD does if you start in January; someone can chime in and confirm)

Aug 27, 2019

Thanks @Kanon for the @mention.

@Averre Thank you for your service.

Kanon is right that you have some very attractive elements in your profile from a business school perspective. Female coming from the military. Big 4 experience. Those two would top the list.

I also agree with Kanon that the traditional MBA would probably be a better fit for you now than the EMBA. Most MBA programs like to admit people with 4-6 years of work experience. 8 years is also OK. EMBA programs are usually for mid-career professionals with 10+ years of experience aiming for senior management. My guess, although it's not clear from your post, is that you are not yet mid-career.

In any case I have a few questions:

  1. What was your major and GPA? Minor, if any?
  2. I'm guessing that you spent some of your enlistment overseas. Correct?
  3. What do you want to do after the MBA? (For most top MBA programs, that is a critical question)
  4. Do you have any idea how you'll do on the GMAT/GRE?
  5. Are you currently consulting in cyber-security, aviation or something else?

For insight into the Cornell Tech program, please see Innovative Education in NYC: All About Cornell Tech You may also want to consider NYU's Tech MBA .

You might also be interested in Academic De-Greening, Part 2: Applying to Graduate School After Military Service

Best,
Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 3
Aug 27, 2019

No, I haven't taken the GMAT yet.

Has anyone successfully offset some of the 200k cost with scholarships? This is my first year making a decent salary, so my savings/safety net are quite minimal. I can cover food/housing without working for 2yrs, but not tuition.

Also, that article was spot on, I am Kelly haha.

Aug 28, 2019

:-) I'm glad the article is helpful.

Regarding scholarship, while full rides are fairly rare, many schools do offer significant scholarships. You should also look into Forte Fellowships and you obviously are aware of GI benefits.

Schools are trying to increase their percentage of women in bschool and that means their wallets are a little more open. Above average GMAT scores tend to open them further.

You didn't answer all my questions so I'm not really able to even give a high level assessment of your profile at top MBA programs. I can say that what you've written would be appealing to them. If you'd prefer to DM me the answers, that's fine.

Linda

Linda Abraham
President, Accepted | Contact Me | Admissions Consulting

    • 1
Aug 28, 2019

Just adding that the vets (at least at my M7) tended to trend a little older than the average school population. The pilots most obviously so, but even the Infantry boys tended to have more than the minimum 4 years under their belts. So I wouldn't worry about feeling out of place at 30.

Hell, in my year alone there were three in their mid-thirties (two career pilots and one who went through the DoD)

    • 1
Aug 28, 2019

You seem like a dream candidate. Reading threads here can give you a skewed perspective - you check so many boxes for elite schools and then some. Just imagine going into an interview and talking about your time in the service and how you've been able to be a successful team member in consulting vs. someone who went straight into a Fortune 500 or fashion marketing role, you'll blow them out of the water - leadership, risk management, strategic planning, responsibility, you should be able to absolutely shine. Best of luck and thank you for your service.

    • 1
Sep 1, 2019

I second these comments. Plus, as a recent MBA graduate I can sympathize with your concerns about the rigor of the MBA program.

Before I started my program I was very concerned that I would not be able to keep up with the rigor of the academics. I had never studied finance and barely graduated college with 3.0 GPA. My MBA program required a minimum GPA of 3.0 just to graduate and there were max mean grade distributions. Suffice to say I found out within the first semester that the hardest part of the MBA program was just getting in. I graduated top 20% of my class and overloaded on courses because I wanted to keep learning.

Given your level of diligence ex-ante I am certain you will succeed. I enjoyed my experience and was friends with many veterans who had built a very strong support network there, as many had never worked in the civilian world prior to beginning the program.

Thank you for your service and I wish you the best of luck.

    • 3
Sep 1, 2019
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