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Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA

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Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2012, 14:01
Hi all,

So basically, I am working in corporate finance right now and have a very finance-heavy background (finance clubs and major in college) but I know that when it comes time for me to apply for my MBA in a year or two, I will be looking to use it to transition into brand management type of positions in the future. A big concern I have is if I would be at a disadvantage when applying to top schools if I state that my interest is in marketing instead of finance because it seems like finance is what a lot of people use top MBAs to move into and is the most popular choice after graduating from MBAs. After undergrad, I knew that investment banking wasn't for me and I looked into corporate finance because it seems more strategic than sellside M&A, ER and I was always more into strategy than PE/HFs. However, after getting some more work experience, I found out that even FP&A roles are very accounting-heavy and not as much "A" and strategy as I'd like and I know now (after doing more research, speaking with friends, etc.) that brand management or market research is where I want to be. However, if not wanting finance will keep me out of a top school, then I'm wondering if it's a very good idea to list this as my preference even if it's what I want.

The other thing is, how can I make a convincing story that I want to move into marketing if all I can say is that I don't like finance (i.e. want something more strategic and big-picture oriented) based on my work experience so far and based on what I've done in terms of research and talking to my peers. Unfortunately, my managers aren't giving me the option to work more closely with the marketing team in a finance capacity, and I'm worried if this combined with applying to a less popular area of study could be detrimental to my application.

If anyone has any advice, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
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Re: Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA [#permalink] New post 11 Oct 2012, 14:25
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You will not be at a disadvantage wanting to go into marketing. You need to be honest with yourself, so you can have a convince story to tell the AdCom. If b-school is 2 years out, and you like marketing, I would advise you to apply for some marketing jobs, to see if you like it. Although, be careful about the company and role you choose. Based on your post, I think you should go for a marketing role at a durable goods company. Marketing at CPG is very short term and number focused. If one thing doesn’t work, they can quickly change the attribute to test the market or price elasticity. I think the durable goods companies have a much stronger strategic plan for their product pipeline, because they have to forecast and plan out the product 5-10 years down the line.
One thing I would advise you not to do is to apply as a finance applicant. For one, your passion will not be there, and people can tell. For two, at the top tier finance school, admits have investment banking, hedge fund, asset management, PE/VC experience, not corporate finance. For job recruiting, they can leverage their background to go back to those more “prestigious” finance jobs. Lastly, if you end up at a school that is highly ranked but not strong in marketing, the recruiting in marketing may not be good.
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Re: Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA [#permalink] New post 12 Oct 2012, 05:23
Contrary to popular belief, business schools are not mainly looking to churn out finance jocks by the hundreds. Admissions committees don't look at applicants and say, "He seems really great, but we'll reject him cause he doesn't want to do finance." You will find people with all types of career interests, both traditional and non traditional, at all of the top schools. Even if you're interested in one of the "finance schools" (i.e. Wharton, Booth, CBS), it is not a disadvantage.
Look, all of the top schools have great programs in the major functional areas (finance, strategy, marketing, etc.). They also have excellent recruiting as well. The only issue with your goal is how you can make a compelling case for this career change. Take some time to think about what aspects of marketing interest you. Then try to figure out what transferable skills you already have. Also you can show evidence of your interest through your ECs. Have you promoted a charity event, fundraised, helped a local business draw in more customers? You can definitely highlight experiences like these to show that you're moving in the direction of your goals and just need the MBA to take you the rest of the way there. If you haven't done anything tangible to develop your interest in marketing then I suggest you start finding ways to so, not just for your applications but also for you to gauge if it's something you enjoy. Hope this helps.
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Re: Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA [#permalink] New post 12 Oct 2012, 13:01
Well, as it stands, I would like to do something in marketing related to pricing and market research. Ideally, brand management is best because it focuses on everything (I'm a person that dislikes specializing) but if I had to pick a certain niche, I'd definitely tend toward pricing and research. I really like doing an overview on customers, their preferences, and then figuring out how to position the brand based on the competitive landscape. Is there a way to help prove that this is where I want to be for MBAs because my work experience isn't letting me do that at the moment?

cheetarah1980 wrote:
Contrary to popular belief, business schools are not mainly looking to churn out finance jocks by the hundreds. Admissions committees don't look at applicants and say, "He seems really great, but we'll reject him cause he doesn't want to do finance." You will find people with all types of career interests, both traditional and non traditional, at all of the top schools. Even if you're interested in one of the "finance schools" (i.e. Wharton, Booth, CBS), it is not a disadvantage.
Look, all of the top schools have great programs in the major functional areas (finance, strategy, marketing, etc.). They also have excellent recruiting as well. The only issue with your goal is how you can make a compelling case for this career change. Take some time to think about what aspects of marketing interest you. Then try to figure out what transferable skills you already have. Also you can show evidence of your interest through your ECs. Have you promoted a charity event, fundraised, helped a local business draw in more customers? You can definitely highlight experiences like these to show that you're moving in the direction of your goals and just need the MBA to take you the rest of the way there. If you haven't done anything tangible to develop your interest in marketing then I suggest you start finding ways to so, not just for your applications but also for you to gauge if it's something you enjoy. Hope this helps.

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Re: Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA [#permalink] New post 12 Oct 2012, 17:02
My essays detailed a career path that doesn't even exist. If I could get into school with made up career goals I am sure you can make a case for finance --> marketing. The evidence doesn't have to be overt and it doesn't have to be in your work experience. Find the connections between what you're currently doing and what you want to do and highlight them (I can't tell you what they are because I haven't looked into it). Like I said before, if you're not doing what you want to do in your day job you can always putz around with it through an EC. Also I encourage you to take some time to figure out where your goals come from. I get what you want to do, but try to dig into the why. I think that doing so will go a long way to helping you "prove" that marketing is where you want to be.

brooksbrahs wrote:
Well, as it stands, I would like to do something in marketing related to pricing and market research. Ideally, brand management is best because it focuses on everything (I'm a person that dislikes specializing) but if I had to pick a certain niche, I'd definitely tend toward pricing and research. I really like doing an overview on customers, their preferences, and then figuring out how to position the brand based on the competitive landscape. Is there a way to help prove that this is where I want to be for MBAs because my work experience isn't letting me do that at the moment?

cheetarah1980 wrote:
Contrary to popular belief, business schools are not mainly looking to churn out finance jocks by the hundreds. Admissions committees don't look at applicants and say, "He seems really great, but we'll reject him cause he doesn't want to do finance." You will find people with all types of career interests, both traditional and non traditional, at all of the top schools. Even if you're interested in one of the "finance schools" (i.e. Wharton, Booth, CBS), it is not a disadvantage.
Look, all of the top schools have great programs in the major functional areas (finance, strategy, marketing, etc.). They also have excellent recruiting as well. The only issue with your goal is how you can make a compelling case for this career change. Take some time to think about what aspects of marketing interest you. Then try to figure out what transferable skills you already have. Also you can show evidence of your interest through your ECs. Have you promoted a charity event, fundraised, helped a local business draw in more customers? You can definitely highlight experiences like these to show that you're moving in the direction of your goals and just need the MBA to take you the rest of the way there. If you haven't done anything tangible to develop your interest in marketing then I suggest you start finding ways to so, not just for your applications but also for you to gauge if it's something you enjoy. Hope this helps.

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Re: Am I at a Disadvantage if I Apply for Marketing at my MBA   [#permalink] 12 Oct 2012, 17:02
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