Inspired by a few of the other people (@"OpsDude", @"TheGrind", etc) who have posted AMAs on their b-school experience, I'm going to write about my experience at Cornell's Johnson School. If you're only interested in M7 MBAs, or you're HSW or bust, feel free to skip this, but for anyone who might end up at a school in the 10-16 range, hopefully this will be helpful. Throughout this post, I'm going to compare my experience with both my peer schools (which I consider to be Ross/Darden/UCLA/Stern/Yale, with Duke probably a bit ahead) and with M7/Tuck. I have friends at many of these schools and will point out where the comparison is anecdotal and where it is based on things such as employment reports. I'll almost certainly out myself by writing this post, so if anyone at Johnson knows who I am feel free to shoot me an email about any inaccuracies/biases you think I may have.
I went to an Ivy undergrad (not Cornell or Brown) and basically had the attitude that getting to college was the end of the journey, so I spent little time on academics and a lot of time partying and drinking. As senior year rolled around, my 2.94 GPA came to bite me in the ass and I basically lucked into a job at a Tier 3 consulting firm (think Alvarez/FTI/Huron). I eventually landed in the internal strategy group at the firm and did quite well, being promoted 2 times in my first 3.5 years. However, I knew I didn't want consulting as a long-term career, and so I started interviewing elsewhere. Most of those interviews were for corp strat jobs at F500 companies. I got a couple of final rounds but no offers, but in talking to my interviewers it was clear that any of those jobs would be a 1-2 year commitment before I would be expected to get my MBA, so I went to get one. With my super-weak GPA, I cast a wide net, applying to 8 schools, getting into 4 (Gtown, Tepper, Johnson and Ross) and ended up choosing Johnson over Ross due to better east coast placement (I had been living in NYC the past 4 years) and smaller class size. I did my summer internship at a F500 company (not going to be more specific to avoid completely outing myself), loved my internship and signed the offer I got within a day of receiving it. Now, on to Johnson...
Johnson Culture (yes, stealing @"OpsDude" format, but I thought it was good)
1) Location: I'll start with this since "I'm not living in Ithaca' is often at the top of people's minds when they think of Cornell. Yes, it's fucking cold (currently -5 with wind chill). Yes, it's in the middle of nowhere. However, for a city of 50,000 people it's actually pretty nice. There are 8-10 restaurants that are quite good, there are a lot of outdoor activities, and there are enough college bars to go around. Also, NYC is a 4-hour drive away and most people go down every 4-5 weeks for a break from the cold. There's a bus that runs 3 times a day (Campus to Campus) which is very nice, Wifi, snacks, etc.
2) Networking: I put this after Location since it's greatly influenced by Ithaca. For better or worse, all of us are trapped here in Ithaca most of the time. We all have class in the same building and we all go to (mostly) the same bars. Because of this, I know each of my 275 classmates well enough to stop and have a conversation with them. By the end of your time here, unless you are a hermit, you will know every one of your classmates at least well enough to say hi. I view this as a major advantage of Johnson and it spreads to the alumni as well. It's sort of like Tuck Jr. in that they're all incredibly responsive and have a lot of love for the school (they're trapped in Hanover, we're in Ithaca).
3) Students: The student body overall is extremely friendly and everyone is very collaborative. It's so rare that this is not the case that those who are haughty/stand-offish have actually been publicly called out on it. About 10% or so come from Ivy undergrads, with Cornell being by far the biggest feeder. The rest are mostly concentrated in schools in the top 50 or so, with a Colgate or UCLA being about the median level of feeder school. Most people are very smart, but it's not a super competitive culture and people genuinely do help each other a lot.
4) Social Life: We're bschool students, and drinking is definitely up there on the agenda items for us. Given that we share Ithaca with Cornell undergrad, most bars are some mix of ugrad/grad students, with a couple being more grad-heavy. If you want, you can also go to downtown Ithaca and hang out with Ithaca College undergrads, as a small number of single guys do. There are also a lot of other grad schools to mix with, and we spend a decent amount of time with Law and Vet School students (vet being 80/20 women/men). People generally go out Weds/Thurs/Fri/Sat and there are always events of some sort going on.
Everyone's favorite topic. I'll break it down by discipline:
Consulting: Compared to the peer schools, this is probably Johnson's weaker area. We send about the same % to MBB each year as our peers do (5-6% per year), but we're not quite as strong in depth behind that. This year we have 8 to Bain, 4 to McKinsey and 3 to BCG. Bain and McK come on campus each year while BCG doesn't always. Last year it was 8 to McKinsey, 4 to Bain and 3 to BCG. For Bain and BCG, you can go to any office you get accepted to, while for McKinsey they tend to push Johnson people to offices like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Stamford, etc. We're a core school for Deloitte, PwC, EY and Accenture, and this year those numbers are roughly 7, 7, 7, and 2 respectively (down year for Accenture). We will send people to ATK and LEK most years (this year it's 3 and 1), and after that it goes to more boutique-y places like Axia, IMS, etc. You can see from the numbers, but M7 sends 15-20% of the class each year to MBB. There are more interview slots for those schools. However, once you get the interview school doesn't really matter. Bain, for instance, interviews all 2nd rounds at their office, and so the Johnson people who got Bain beat people from any other school in that office. The big advantage at M7 is the number of interview slots and the alumni network, but once you get to the interview it's all pretty much the same.
IB: Fairly strong here, and improving every year. Recruiting is organized by a professor who was previously a Director at Citi, and he does a great job in prepping people and getting them into firms. This year we'll have about 45 people going to IB, with ~30 of those to BB/EB and the other ~15 to places like RBC, BMO, Baird, Jefferies, Guggenheim, etc. We're a core school for all BBs except MS (and we send 1 or 2 there each year anyway) and for a couple of the EBs. The biggest difference between us and M7 in this area is that our BB hires are concentrated at Citi, BAML, Deutsche, JPM with only 1-2 each year to GS/MS. Also, important note: if you do IB recruiting here, you will be going to NYC every Friday from mid-October to December to network/interview.
Marketing/GM: I'll lump these together since it's fairly similar in terms of recruiting. We have a lot of companies come here for these roles, in CPG we are a core school for Colgate, Unilever, P&G, Mars, SC Johnson, Johnson & Johnson, Whitewave and Big Heart Pet Foods. In GM you'll see names like Boeing, Corning, commercial banking (Citi, BofA, JPM), Liberty Mutual, etc. Some are very competitive, some are less so. We have a very strong CPG alumni base (at Unilever and Colgate we're the biggest/second biggest group).
corporate finance: Similar to Marketing/GM, a lot of options in the F500. People go to P&G, banks, CPGs, and other industries for this.
Tech: Ok but getting stronger. Amazon last year was our biggest hirer, and this year they liked Johnson MBAs so much they've come back for another round of 2nd year interviews after doing their hires in November. We place very well at Intel, with 3 of 9 MBAs this year coming from Johnson in their leadership program. EBay is also a big hirer, as is HP. We send a couple of people each year to Google, but they're not a huge presence here, and we have 1-2 people each year to Facebook/Apple/MSFT.
Equity Research/Buyside: If you want to go to PE from here, you need prior PE experience. We have 4-8 people do it each year, all of whom had prior HF/PE experience. They had to do all of their own networking for the most part and got jobs without help from career services. We send a few people each year to big Mutual Fund companies such as Fidelity, American Century, etc, and a few to sell-side Equity Research. There is a student-run hedge fund (the Cayuga Fund) and an Asset Management mentorship program in which alumni mentor students. Only about 10-15 people each year pursue non-HF/PE Asset Management and most end up with jobs like Fidelity, but we're certainly not as strong here as M7.
To start, we don't have GND. Grades matter for Consulting and IB (in IB they care about Finance/Accounting grades, in Consulting about overall GPA) but not for the other roles you can recruit for. We all take 6 core classes in the fall, which are mostly very well-taught. If you've done business undergrad or had a lot of business experience, it's more of a refresher than a ton of new material, but good overall. In the spring most people do Immersions. Immersions are a semester spent intensely studying one discipline, and they're offered in the following fields: Marketing, IB, Corp Fin, Sustainable Global Enterprise (a Johnson niche), Investment Management, and Ops. For some of them you work on a project for an outside company (examples being MSFT, Amex, HP, J&J, etc) throughout the semester. For IB, you get drilled on modeling/M&A each and every week, and the IB guys come out very well prepared (100% conversion from internship 2 years ago, 95% last year). Marketing, IB, and SGE seem to be the best, with CF,and Ops getting weaker reviews.
Second year, it's all electives, and there's good variety. Most of the professors are very good teachers, and there are some very interesting subjects to learn about. One big advantage is that you can take up to 1/4 of your credits from other schools at Cornell. Cornell is "the biggest Ivy League university", and it shows in the amazing variety of courses you can take at places like the Hotel School or in Industrial & Labor Relations, Urban Planning, Law, or a million other disciplines. I'm currently only taking one bschool class and loving the other classes I'm taking. Whatever your interests are outside of bschool, you can find a class here to pursue it.
That's it, I know it was long but didn't want to leave anything out.