What should I do for the next two years before HBS 2+2?

Hey everyone, long time reader, first time poster. Let me start by saying I understand that I am lucky to have the dilemma I currently have. Anyways, on to the question.

I was admitted to HBS 2+2 last year around the time I graduated from state school with a chemical engineering degree. For the last year and a half (and until next July) I have been working at a Fortune 15 company in their management/supply chain/engineering leadership program. Although I could matriculate to HBS next fall, I want to use an extra 1-2 years to align my experiences before HBS to better reflect my post-MBA goals (and to swing for the fences because of my fall back to b-school). After school, I am most interested in VC (which is almost impossible to get into) so I figured the move was either trying to network into a pre-MBA VC role or joining a seed funded startup to set myself up for success.

Any suggestions, tips or alternative viewpoints as I go down this path?

Also, I'm happy to give my two cents on the 2+2 application process, ask away.

Thanks!

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Comments (23)

Dec 6, 2016 - 3:53am

GE?

It seems like the benefit of 2+2 is the ability to take on more risky career opportunities than otherwise. With this said, you could work at a riskier startup before you matriculate or try to get a VC role beforehand. Or just take the time to do something cool. You are in a unique position to take a risk.

Dec 7, 2016 - 4:18pm

Take this with a grain of salt b/c I am not a VC by any means but...

If you are at said company I would recommend looking into their venture arm. Try to reach out to them and see if they can advise you with their VC goals. Look at their profiles to give you a better sense of the paths VCs take. They will likely ask you why you want to be a VC. It sounds cool and prestigious but also carries a lot of risk. In order to know which ideas and teams will make it you generally need some experience working at start-ups yourself. If VC is your goal and since you are in at HBS I would consider looking at joining a hot startup where you can make a tangible impact. Obviously, this would mean less $ and no prestigious name (but you already have F15 name). Even if it fails you will have the opportunity to spin a story and have a history of a high-impact role vs. being a number at a large corp.

Dec 6, 2016 - 11:36pm

That was the thought process I was originally on, but then I realized I most likely could get a post-MBA consulting job after school (maybe would take a little more hustle w/o the previous experience but doable) if consulting is the route I end up taking. On the other hand, banking doesn't get me that fired up unfortunately.

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Dec 7, 2016 - 11:08am

Are you cool with VC a few years later after hbs?

If you have two of the three following, technical skills, operating experience and financial engineering ability, you will maximize your time there. The consulting and banking doors are very attractive, relatively easier and sought after, but it still depends on whst you want to do

Best Response
Dec 9, 2016 - 4:34am

by maximizing I meant your time before HBS. that helps to round up your resume, and competition is mostly your RC classmates and first-years at the other 15 or so schools.

But I guess your time at HBS is also pretty important.. It's a common b-school problem that you won't have enough time for everything, and recruiters have big crowds for events everyday... so prioritizing your time HBS to get the biggest item done is the most important. :) Many also start prepping parts of b-school, a year or at least 6 months before matriculating

lastly, your years of work experience plays a big role in your exit opportunities. top 15 program median is still 5 years when I last checked, and I guess now I see that it makes sense in recruiting scheme of things - too young can be risky for "experienced" jobs, and too old makes anybody less mallable. Since you can "time your entry" instead of betting multiple programs at once, it's a very valuable option that money cant buy. I rather delay entry if I can, and I'm just shy of 2 years when I entered in fall.

Dec 7, 2016 - 2:03am

I would highly recommend the start-up route. As said above, you're in a unique position to take risks; consulting is something you can do later. Joining one could be a good move if you're not thinking of starting your own, especially since you're looking at VC.

  • 1
Dec 7, 2016 - 6:45pm

Obviously fact check this because it was almost two years ago but you apply the third round around April 5th (used to be any round, I believe its only allowed third round now) to HBS's regular admissions application and select the 2+2 option. You have to have your test done by this third round due date. You can take the GRE or GMAT, I took the GRE so I would have a clean slate for the GMAT in case I bombed. HBS weights either test equally. I heard about getting an interview on April 22nd and the interview took place on campus on May 5th. After the interview there is a laid back "essay" called the post interview reflection, due within 24 hours of your interview and it enables you to tie off anything you think you may have missed in the interview. I then got my final decision on May 13th. You login to get your final decision and Dee would blog about when they were coming out so that way you could control the environment you were in when you found out.

And in terms of the process, I honestly felt like I would do everything the same way next time. I thought I had no chance at an interview coming out of a middle tier state school and having grown up in Massachusetts so I wasn't expecting anything. Because I felt I had nothing to lose, I took a few chances in my application and they apparently worked. It kind of felt like everything aligned just the right way. Once I got an interview I knew that I had a good chance because something like 50% of interviewees actually get in and I generally interview well. My interview went really well, took a few more chances during it and just trusted that if I was myself, the right outcome for me would happen regardless. Sorry thats not what you want to hear for lessons learned but I would say based on your background you may need to take more or less risks in your application. And make sure your scores/GPA are not a reason to weed you out.

Dec 7, 2016 - 4:47pm

What was your reasoning to apply for the HBS 2+2 program versus waiting until you felt ready to go later in your career? How many years can you defer? For your application, what really made you stand out?

Also, in terms of your situation I think if you are trying to into VC post-HBS it would be beneficial to prove to those firms that you had thought about it well in advance and make moves before HBS. This could be in a startup or vc firm if possible but like someone mentioned above if you are at a Fortune 15 company like GE I am sure you can transition into a role that has more finance and venture work that will help you craft your story when you get to HBS.

Best of luck and I hope you get the VC job you are looking for!

Dec 7, 2016 - 6:58pm

My reasoning was that I had nothing to lose and I knew the company I was working for after school was generally (really) against MBAs. In terms of the nothing to lose, HBS lets in lots of people that originally got rejected in 2+2 so at worst, I would have some lessons learned from the process and really know if I wanted to go to school. I also had one class at the time and needed to stay busy.

You can defer between 2 and 4 years from graduation. From what I have heard from 2+2ers currently at HBS, you'll know when its time to go to school, whether its a natural transition period or you just feel ready. It seems to be spread out pretty well between deferring for 2, 3 or 4 years. I obviously picked four years because I am trying to set myself up for a career transition after business school.

In terms of my application, I think my essay and leadership experience really made me stand out. My overall application just told a very coherent story centered around leadership, family, entrepreneurship and subtly included my technical background. Theres really not a ton to the application so I made sure I made the most of every little section.

And I appreciate the input, I have added the action item and I am currently working on getting some time with someone in that department! Thanks!

Let me know if you are wondering anything else.

Jan 4, 2017 - 9:48pm

I'm curious as to what you (and everyone else) believes on the theory that HBS "hates" business/finance majors as applicants? As a non-minority also attending a mid-tier state school, I also currently feel how it seems like you used to.... like I don't really have a shot.

However, I believe that my GPA (3.96) and my extensive leadership experiences, as well as having already accepted an IB job at a MM firm in NYC, show that my qualifications are there.

Other advice seeking: what did you write about in your essay? Who wrote your recommendations? What questions were asked in your interview?

Thanks!

Jan 11, 2017 - 10:03am

Thats a good question, not sure if Im qualified to answer but Ill give my two cents anyways.

What I gathered from my interviews, talking to other candidates and reading the interwebs is that HBS is not looking for a certain profile, they are looking for leaders. I don't think they would rule someone out because they are on the finance track. If you have a compelling argument for why you belong, then they will give you a shot. Additionally, I think that a lot of finance type people apply with "similar" profiles, so it may seem like HBS hates them but it may be a function of numbers. Also for 2+2 they do target STEM and women it seems but obviously that is not a hard and fast rule.

Definitely apply, you have nothing to lose. Tons of 2+2 rejections end up getting admitted later on in the regular pool. I also met a few finance interviewees in the 2+2 pool so I know they are there.

One piece of advice about the essay, do not ask anyone what they wrote. There is no framework that works exclusively so you just want to write one that explains you in some way that you couldn't do justice in the rest of your application. If you start listening to other people, they may influence you to write an essay that isn't completely you.

In terms of my recommendations, I had a technical (head of engineering school) and a business (head of entreprenuership honors program that I was in).

The interview was super quick, and they really tried to get to know me better. There were no curveballs. We went through the transitions and decisions behind my resume and then talked about an anecdote in my essay, talked about some career goals, and any questions stemming from those questions. I really tried to focus on being self aware and humble in my answers.

Hope this helps, feel free to message me with more questions.

Jan 11, 2017 - 1:45pm

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