Fuqua vs Johnson MBA for IB - Help Needed

Hi everyone, 

Long time lurker here! I am having an incredibly difficult time choosing between these two schools, so any help from people who have done their MBA or are in the industry will be very appreciated. Hopefully this will help others in the future as well as I haven't found much info out there.

I am currently in an account management role and have worked in back office in banking and am looking to use the MBA to pivot to IB likely in NYC, but pretty agnostic location-wise. My concern really has to do with which program will set me up for success to recruit as a career switcher without quantitative work experience and without such degree. So here it goes:

Cornell

Pros:

  •  Structured recruiting program. They basically tell you what to say and how to prepare for the process.
  •  IB Immersion kicks in during the second semester to prepare you for the internship (assuming you were able to land one). The director has you study different types of deals that are live at the time. I think they put together models as well but I am not sure. The point is to get you up to speed to hit the ground running from what it seems like. Not sure if this is the same as Training the Street that other schools have.
  • Cornell-specific technical question guide.
  •  Strong NYC network and breadth across banks and business lines.
  • Plenty of finance resources/programs.  
  • There is a post on here that reviews IB recruiting at Cornell which I found very helpful and speaks well about the school.
  • Great culture.
  • Record year for placements in absolute and percentage terms despite COVID.
  • Is it true that Johnson students are better trained to hit the ground running?

Cons:

  • More people gunning for IB, so possibly more competition? From what I understand, recruiting started with 90 students, 70 of which recruited seriously and about 50 received internship offers.
  • If banking doesn't work out, kind of stuck.
  • Non-core, so have to fight for seats. Though, a ton of banks recruit on campus.
  • No scholarship money.
  • Weather.

Fuqua

Pros:

  • Absolutely fell in love with Durham and the campus when I visited. Such an incredible place to be in and I loved the school spirit.
  • Team Fuqua is real. Everyone is incredibly nice and easy to talk to. Students kept repeating that no sharp elbows exist during recruiting.
  • Heard of students rejecting higher ranked schools to come to Duke, which speaks very well about the school. Duke has a little more caché IMO.
  • Wide breadth of industries that recruit. Better hedge in case IB doesn't pan out for some reason?
  • Target for banks, especially BAML and Barclays (core).
  • 30k scholarship.
  • Less competition for seats? This is a selling point for them. About 50 recruited, 45 got interviews and ~35 received offers. Heard was a down year for them.
  • Larger network. 
  • Weather.

Cons:

  • 6 week terms. I wonder how overwhelming that will be with recruiting.
  • Evercore recruits at Johnson but not much at Fuqua.
  • A little concerned about the whole student-driven aspect of the university. Not sure how well that sets up real career switchers for IB.
  • Less finance resources (i.e. centers, investment fund etc.).
  • Wednesdays off. Tough with recruiting? Students spin it as positive (only school in town that day to talk to bankers).
  • Pricey rent.

Wash:

  • Transport to Manhattan from either school will take about the same time all in. RDU was very easy too.
  • GND at Johnson vs non-GND at Fuqua. Curve at Fuqua sounds very doable, but some banks ask for grades.
  • Alumni presence on the street. Greater proportion at Johnson but smaller class vs smaller proportion but larger class at Fuqua.

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Comments (22)

Apr 15, 2021 - 7:38pm

It depends.

In my view, it comes down to what you value greater: MBA experience (Duke) vs a highly structured IB placement (Cornell). 

Cornell - more structure / handholding but a seemingly less of an MBA experience. Besides location, Cornell has a rep of being a school  that produces 'grinders' (I have heard it called a vocational b-school) rather than a holistic MBA experience. The school is very good at getting students trained for post-MBA IB jobs, but I'm not sure how good the network is after. I've run into a few Johnson alums in IB and hear the IB network is geared to getting MBA students placed and then drops off...hard. Of course you'll have your IB cohort to bond with and lateral moves aren't that difficult BUT if you're looking to transition out of IB to the buyside, good luck.     

Duke - IB is much less structured, but much more of an MBA experience (Team Fuqua + Durham). Students absolutely love the program and the alumni base is super strong and involved. Once you land an IB job, you'll have a great network of alums to help you navigate your career. The alums I've run into have this cultish school spirit, so you'll always have ppl to reach out to who want to help. If you want to leave IB, the network will help you transition to other fields. I don't think this can be discounted as it's a big reason you attend b-school, besides your 1st post-MBA job.  

Obviously plenty of ppl land IB jobs from Duke, I think it just depends on your comfort level and what you want to get out of the program.  

In terms of amounts of students looking at IB, I would give the edge to Cornell not Duke. More students interested = more banks go there. I would absolutely not look at it as an internal competition issue.  You want as many looks as possible as a student from hiring banks. It's not like less students at Duke will make you a better candidate, you're going to get a seat if you're good and there's an interview or not.

Best of luck!  

Apr 15, 2021 - 9:27pm

Telemachus, thanks so much for the quick and very detailed reply! This confirmed some of my beliefs about Cornell and Duke as well. If I wasn't so hung up on the whole IB prep, I would pick Fuqua in a heartbeat. Absolutely loved that place. I hadn't given too much thought on the long-term value of the network to be honest. I suppose I may have to reevaluate and take the risk. Food for thought. 

Apr 16, 2021 - 8:58am

The b-school network impact is huge. 

The benefit with Duke is you get to be part of both Duke and Fuqua's network (2 great networks). Johnson dissolves into the entire Cornell network (1 great network). 

These are facts easily seen online. You can see this by pulling up each school's alumni event page. As of today, Johnson has 2 alumni events scheduled for the rest of April (and they don't even look like MBA alumni events, more like Uni alumni events), Fuqua has a multitude of events. Comparisons such as these tell you how engaged the school's alumni is with the school. 

  • Consultant in Consulting
Apr 15, 2021 - 8:03pm

In regards to Johnson, 50/70 seems like a good job placement rate especially with last year's state of recruiting. I also believe a couple BB's and larger MM's didn't run processes. Makes me think in a more normal year it might be even higher

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Apr 15, 2021 - 9:32pm

Thanks Fingerling Potatoes. That's what the Duke students told me too. Need to think about it. I definitely hope everything works out well for you this cycle. It was a rough go-around. Plus, you got me hungry now. 

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 16, 2021 - 3:02am

Seems like you're pretty much set on Duke but Cornell's IB placement is throwing a wrench into your decision. Ultimately it comes down to how confident you are in your ability to land what you want. While Duke's IB placement isn't as strong, you'll be fine if you're competent. They're peer MBA schools so I think going with the best cultural fit is the way to go.

Apr 16, 2021 - 9:16pm

Thanks for the reply. Do you care to elaborate what do you mean by competent here? I did note above that I will be making a significant career switch. Hoping to pick up the "competency" in school?

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Apr 16, 2021 - 11:43pm

Just generally being decently smart and having good EQ. Know someone that went to a comparable MBA and did a stint in IB really well and they basically said anyone who wanted IB and put the effort in, got a spot. Do the basics and you'll be good. 

  • Assist. VP in IB - Ind
Apr 16, 2021 - 1:22pm

You will get an IB offer from Fuqua if you just follow the process outlined by the ib club. Go to the events, suck it up for recruiting, don't get straight P's, show interest in the banks you want (this is the hardest part), get interviews, study up around Christmas break, then you're enjoying Durham, going to basketball games, sitting in the pool end of March, going to the beach, etc.

Don't worry about the length of terms. It doesn't really matter for recruiting. Your team will help if you're recruiting ib, plus the Fall 2 term is geared towards people being gone for recruiting. No one will care about your grades or performance in marketing and strategy if you're never there due to recruiting.

Not sure about the pricey rent con, but we're all in different circumstances. If you're single, just live at station 9

Apr 16, 2021 - 9:23pm

Appreciate the reply. I assume you are an alumnus/a. I did hear from a number of students that they had to skip strategy for recruiting as well. Does the finance club also help with learning to pitch deals? I believe this will be asked during recruiting. Why is it hard to show interest in the banks you want? Maybe just talk with more and more bankers there to show your committment?

  • Assist. VP in IB - Ind
Apr 17, 2021 - 9:54am

Yup, the finance club will help with various sessions related to prep. One of your biggest resources is the rest of the people recruiting with you. You will practice with them and get your story, pitches, and technical answers refined with them.

As mentioned above, if you have decent EQ and just follow the process, you will get an IB offer.

Some caveats:

You didn't mention if you're international. If you are, then everything changes because internationals get boned in recruiting (IB and otherwise). Some internationals still get IB offers and other offers outside IB, but it's just a harder road for them.

I noticed that you mentioned Evercore in your op. If you have specific banks that you're aiming for then that changes things. I'd see the alumni count at those specific banks and work from there. If you want evercore, then Fuqua has only a couple alumni there for example.

To your question on the hardest part of recruiting - it's a numbers game. Generally you'll have a core of 80% of those recruiting for IB that are similarly qualified, similar career switching, similar gmat/grades, etc just from being accepted to either school. 10% are just recruiting IB for the hell of it and won't stick around. This year probably skewed even higher because all the events were virtual. The last 10% have an X factor - previously did banking or something really close, already recruited with the bank during diversity and were asked to come back through the process, tutored the recruiting MD's kid in high school, banged the recruiter, etc. Anyway, sounds like you'll be in the core 80%. Most years there are enough slots across the banks to cover almost the full 80%. You have to find the right balance of building "meaningful" connections with enough people at enough banks to get an offer. You may just get the associate that hates everyone for your first informational and you're out from that bank before even really starting. You can try to get more informationals from that bank but there is some luck involved. You will be dinged from some banks for not "showing the love" because yield is important to the banks. The recruiting window is relatively short so you do have to grind to make enough connections in the short amount of time. You also have to make calculated judgments - I'm not getting a ton of traction at Bank 1 but getting somewhere with Bank 2. You have to decide on going all-in on Bank 2 and abandoning Bank 1 or pushing just a little harder on Bank 2 while pushing really hard on Bank 1.

I'm obviously biased to Fuqua and the overall experience there but you can make it happen from either program. Good luck and maybe see you in the fall!

  • VP in PE - Growth
Apr 16, 2021 - 9:55pm

I didn't go to either school but know people who have gone to both. Imo, Fuqua is a no brainer here. They place very well into IB, and you'll have a better experience, better community / network & more fun. Plus you mention more expensive rent but you're getting scholarship $ to Duke so feels like Scholarship - difference in rent probably is a better financial situation than the net rent savings at Johnson? 

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