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advice needed about b-school choice

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advice needed about b-school choice [#permalink] New post 28 May 2010, 09:20
Alex – Thank you for the free alternative. A little about me:

31, 3.5 GPA, 730 GMAT, US LPR (Legal Permanent Resident) and I have applied to Tuck, NYU, Yale, Gtown and INSEAD (Jan 11 intake). Rejected at NYU (w/o interview) and Yale (with Interview), W/L at Tuck and accepted at Georgetown (with some monies) and INSEAD. I have about 9 years of experience in construction (project management) and then real estate development. My post-MBA goal is to get into PE, focusing on real estate. Now, I realize that getting into (directly after b-school) PE will be difficult, so my backup is to get into banking, get 3 years of banking experience under my belt, and then network to get into PE. In terms of where I would like to work, I am open to career in Asia but my first preference would be a career in the US.
Questions:

1) Given my goals, which school (Gtown or INSEAD) will better suit me? INSEAD is widely regarded as a top program and may seem to be the natural choice here, but I worry that it may not get me into banking/PE in the US. In talking to alums, INSEAD’s US placement seemed to be weak but that could be due to the fact that, for foreigners, it’s hard to get a US work permit (H1B). What is INSEAD’s reputation among US recruiters for banking/finance? (I looked at their placement report but doesn’t help me because my situation is unique - I am a career changer and older – so the fact that they place 18% into finance doesn’t tell me much…besides their placements will mostly be in Asia/the EU) Will it be a mistake to go to INSEAD if I want to do finance/banking in the US? And what is INSEAD’s reputation in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia and the Far East (i.e. China, HK etc.)? I am inclined to matriculate at INSEAD mostly because of its overall reputation, its ability to get me back to Asia and partly because of personal reasons (my fiancé is in Asia), the latter forming only a small part of the equation. At the same time, I am concerned about INSEAD’s finance reputation and its US reputation.

On the other hand, Georgetown is definitely a 2nd tier school (outside of your sweet sixteen) but their US ibanking placement seems to be strong, and therefore I feel pretty okay that the school will open some doors for me to get an banking internship, and eventually, a full-time position. The only setback is that Gtown isn’t INSEAD/LBS or one of the US top 16. Rankings, or should I say reputations are not everything but they do correlate to the types of employers who come to campus. For consulting, INSEAD gets McKinsey and BCG while Georgetown gets second tier consulting firms. For finance, it’s not so clear cut but INSEAD definitely gets more blue chip bank recruiters, at least in Asia and Europe.
Please advise. I am thinking that it’s pointless waiting on Tuck.

2) Ibanking – Given my age, will it be difficult for me to get into banking? I think I am okay with the lifestyle and I don’t mind slogging for 2-3 years if that will get me into PE. I will be 33 at graduation, and that is at least 3-4 years older than a typical ibanking associate hence my concern about banks not wanting to look at someone who is over 30. Please advise.

3) Lastly, besides banking, what other avenues are available for me to get into PE? Please advise.
I really need your honest counsel. If you need to be paid, we could get something set up.

Thanks!
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Re: advice needed about b-school choice [#permalink] New post 28 May 2010, 10:01
If working in the US right after school is more important to you than the actual job itself, then you should go to Georgetown. INSEAD is a great school, but it's simply going to be harder to do the job hunting thing for US-based jobs because it's on a different continent. Plus, it's a one-year program so it doesn't match well with the traditional recruiting cycles for US-based banks.

If you want to do banking as a career switcher, you really need to do a summer internship in banking - if you don't, you're going to have a very tough time securing a full-time offer from a bank no matter what school you go to.

INSEAD is really geared towards those who want to work in Europe (or Asia if they decide to end their term on the Singapore campus).

Yes, INSEAD is a great school, but it's not really going to suit your needs.

As for investment banking and age - it can be an issue, but it's a matter of showing that you're committed to the job. In other words, you have to convince them that at 33-37 (3-4 years as an associate), you're willing to get slapped around and be as subservient as someone who may be 5-8 years younger than you. And some bankers will either accept you for it, or will look down on you for it because you're willing to do it at your age. Also, some folks may simply not feel as comfortable managing you because of your age -- they feel more comfortable grinding a 26 or 27 year old single dude than someone in his 30s.

As for private equity, if you want in, you really have to do banking first - there were folks who have gone directly to PE in the past during the bubble/boom years but unlikely now and in the future as the sector becomes less frothy. The other way is if you have access to money (i.e. you come from a very well-to-do family that has contacts with other very rich people -- remember that PE funds aren't just about investing money, but raising money as well). "Operational knowledge" is a commodity - if you want to do real estate PE, chances are your skillset and knowledge isn't particularly unique. What is more valuable is CONTACTS that lead to deal flow and money. If you do have that because of your family or your personal network, then sure some real estate PE firms may be interested in you.
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Re: advice needed about b-school choice [#permalink] New post 28 May 2010, 10:16
Alex - Thank you for the response.

A quick follow-up question - I got admitted to INSEAD's Jan 11 intake so this means that there will be a two-month summer internship. This internship is maybe 3-4 weeks shorter than a typical summer internship at a US school.

that said, will this internship opportunity help me get a banking position in Asia? I open to maybe working in Asia first with a top tier bank, and then work my way by to the states in 3-4 years time.

I understand and agree with your opinion about INSEAD's US career prospects.

Thanks
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Re: advice needed about b-school choice [#permalink] New post 28 May 2010, 10:44
Sure, then go to INSEAD then. If banks recruit for their summer internships from the Jan intake, then that could work.
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Re: advice needed about b-school choice   [#permalink] 28 May 2010, 10:44
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