MBB Interests - Columbia M.A. vs. Government Job?

jpuck9's picture
Rank: Monkey | 57

Undergrad: Good Liberal Arts School
B.A., Economics, Mandarin, IR
CUM GPA: 3.6
Major GPA: 3.9

Hey everyone, hoping for some advice given my current situation.

I graduated from a small liberal arts college about a month ago and am currently trying to decide between Columbia and a job with the Federal Trade Commission.

I was recently accepted into a Masters program at Columbia tailored to my interests in global economy and law with an emphasis on China's economy and thus entailing the study of Mandarin. I've been studying for over four years now, studied abroad in Beijing, and have tested over proficiency levels for speaking and reading.

Initially, I thought IB was what I wanted, but after two summers as a Summer Analyst, felt that consulting was more me and more related to my interests in working with Chinese companies (ultimate goal being global M&A at MBB). I did Sales & Trading at a top boutique (think jefferies, oppenheimer) two years ago and did Equity Research at a BB (think jpmorgan, goldman) last summer.

Unfortunately I hold a great amount of debt already from financing my undergraduate studies and the cost of MA tuition at Columbia would be an additional 60-70k in loans including living expenses, travel, etc.

The FTC job would be within the Bureau of Economics and would allow me to gain some practical experience while simultaneously receiving a paycheck which is nice. It's part of their federal career intern program and I'd be an Economic Research Analyst. (Does anyone know more about this program, is it competitive/regarded by private firms as desirable in terms of exit opportunities, etc.?)

That said, I love NYC and believe Columbia with OCR would allow me to be put in touch with the necessary contacts to facilitate my goals in consulting. I have a friend at Columbia (PhD candidate) that worked at McKinsey and would be willing to work with me on preparing for their interviews and getting in touch with the right people as well... Furthermore, I also wouldn't mind furthering my education and doing so in a recession.

(However, I still question the value of the MA now versus getting the MBA later on)...

Would love to hear your opinions on the matter. Thanks so much in advance--appreciate it!

Comments (8)

Jun 15, 2009

Im pretty sure as a Columbia Masters student you will have limited opportunities if any to attend MBA OCR. Are you going for a Masters in economics or financial mathematics?

Jul 11, 2009

Congratulations on the acceptance to Columbia and the job with the FTC. Both are very competitive obviously. The Columbia masters will give you a chance to do a lot of in-depth graduate work in your field which would be great from an intellectual standpoint, and a year in New York will give you a lot contacts among peers and professors.

Jun 15, 2009

Wow thank you for your response. That's incredibly helpful and clearly, you know a lot about Columbia's options and opportunities. I truly appreciate your advice. I've already accepted admission (last day to accept was today), but will definitely consider asking if deferring is a possibility. I agree with the one year of experience helping for interviews down the road... however, if the market is going to change a lot over the next six months, deferring may hurt my chances to be on the upswing curve and (hopefully) intense hiring period for the firms I hold an interest in. Right?

The M.A. is a 1.5 year program and may be accelerated with Columbia in Shanghai or Hong Kong summer credit bearing internship programs.

As for dipset1011, it's neither of those -- I considered them, but believe my niche makes me unique and am hoping continuing the east asian studies liberal degree will set me apart. After all, I do want to live in China at some point and gain complete fluency in the language. Might as well continue studying mandarin, take some econ and poli sci graduate classes, gain OCR options (even if its with the CC group) and enjoy obtaining a higher degree/more knowledge--should make me more marketable regardless, no?

Thanks so much again and if you have alternative opinions on the matter I'd love to hear more!

Jun 15, 2009

Hey congrats on your decision. Columbias a great school. If you can network through your buddy that would be awesome. If i were you i wouldve opted to take on economics or financial mathematics. The econ program at Columbia is solid with distinguished professors same with finance some MBA professors overlap both programs. I believe there is a mandarin certificate you can recieve from Columbia as well. I think the combination would've been better that consisted of econ/finance mathematics + certificate in mandarin which would give you a more technical background which is probably more desirable in this market.....but then again i think you are more interested in continuing your liberal arts education....

Jun 15, 2009

You're probably right, it was honestly not a planned decision. I had 3rd rounds at 3 BB's and didn't expect to not get one and found myself not willing to settle for something below what I wanted and behind the curve on applying to MM boutiques, which ideally, would have been fantastic and probably easier for me since I had the BB summer experience already.

However, given where I am and the current situation I think I have to do Columbia. I'm interning this summer unpaid at a nice PE firm (probably unknown but legit for a two-year old 15 person firm taking in ~100m in revenue a year. Good experience and I'm hoping it will also add flavor to my resume when applying next summer to MBB for a summer associate role (to be honest I'd take analyst at this point-start from the bottom and work my way up)... but we'll see. Thanks again for your input and suggestions!

Jun 15, 2009

I'm only interested in furthering my education (thus taking on an additional 80k in loans to finance it) if it'll get me where I want to be.

Jun 16, 2009

good decision, jpuck... if you get some time between your internship and the start of school, read up on your fall classes, the pace and rigor from undergrad to grad is quite an adjustment.

well, worked out for this guy:

analyst vs. associate is a bit blurred, some may consider you for an associate position because you have a graduate degree but most will think of you as an analyst or senior analyst- fairly moot point actually.

Jun 16, 2009