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BlueGrin's profile

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BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 28 Jul 2008, 09:28
I've only just discovered this site in the past week, as I'm gearing up to apply. It seems like a great resource, and I'd appreciate any time you take to look through my situation. My plan to go to business school was really only tentative until I got my GMAT scores earlier this month, and now seems like more of a probability.

Personal
Age: 36 at Matriculation
Gender: Male
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Born in Brooklyn, grew up in upstate New York suburbs.

Academic
Undergrad: Respected, though not elite, state school
Degree: BA Mathematics, BA Philosophy
GPA: 2.4

Top tier, but not elite, law school, ranked in 20’s over the past 10 years.
Degree: JD
GPA: 3.4

LSAT: 171 (99%ile)
GMAT: 770 (99 %ile); Q48 (84 %ile), V49 (99 %ile), AWA 6.0

Professional

Paralegal for two years at second tier BigLaw firm

Associate for 5 years at second tier BigLaw firm;
Worked on structured finance transactions, mainly with the middle office of major investment banks;
Variety of deals: Project finance, Aircraft Securitizations, Student loans, MBS, Credit Cards

Associate for 2 years at an elite niche BigLaw firm
Issuer’s counsel for major investment banks on MBS transactions.

Currently employed as a legal analyst with a large financial media company.

Extracurricular

Undergrad – Fraternity: president and pledgemaster

Law School: staff editor of one of the Law Journals (not Law Review)

Sitting for the Level I CFA exam in December.
Currently taking classes with my employer on various investment products/industries

Goals

I am actually very flexible, since I understand my optimal career path at this point has a very high barrier to entry. Long story short, my main interest is finance, though I have several other considerations.

My number one goal is to get into trading with a top investment bank. Long term, I’m more interested in working on the buy side, and would look to make that move early, either externally, or towards a prop desk position. I have several hedge fund contacts already, and would feel comfortable using that network to make a move, once I establish my resume, or from the get go, if the banks don't happen.

Long story short, this is really what suits my temper. I have no problems with stress, and I’ve always had a gambling personality, so I’m not afraid of risk. In fact, it energizes me. It’s one of the reasons that legal practice frustrates me, and why trading is what I’ve always been drawn to.

Private Equity/Venture Capital: though obviously there would be high competition, I would consider this a fall back as my 1A choice, and would be looking at these jobs off the bat. I have some contacts in these area, but not many.

Investment Banking: I’m not really interested, but I can see myself being typecast towards this role. I’ve already done the long hours and closings related to MBS and structured finance deals, and, to be honest, that doesn’t interest me at this point in my life. Push comes to shove, I would still consider it, since it’s still better to be on these deals from the business side than as a lawyer.

Entertainment/Management: This is only an option should I find myself at UCLA, really. I have some fairly high contacts at Disney through family friends. I’d still lean towards finance, but it’s an option that I’d definitely consider.

Schools

I’m really not sure where I fit. I know my GMAT score makes me competitive, but I feel as though I faltered on the Quant (which had been my strong suit leading up to the exam). Especially since I’m leaning towards not only finance, but away from the areas of finance (banking, sales) where my perceived verbal skills would be a primary asset.

I have an uphill battle due to my undergrad GPA, ameliorated by both my law school GPA and the simple passage of time. But that passage of time is significant, and my age could work against me.

I feel the law career – especially being on Wall Street – can cut both ways. On the one hand, I’ve achieved a fair amount, on the other, I’m going to be lumped in with the typical finance guys, without truly having the typical finance foundation.

I’m also concerned that I’m pretty weak in extra curriculars. I’ve never really been a “joiner.” I do tend to be entrepreneurial in my ideas, and end up taking on leadership roles over time as my peers/bosses realize my abilities, but I don’t seek them out on my own.

So, my target school at this point is Columbia, with NYU my #1 fallback. I’m going to try the reaches at Wharton/MIT/Stanford. Wharton & MIT are easy, because of their finance strengths. Since I’ve read that Stanford and Harvard both stack the deck against older students, I’m only going with one, and Stanford wins on the basis of weather, and my family in the area.

I have a number of reasons for leaning towards Columbia. Finance concentration is an obvious one. I’m hesitant to go ED, however, because 1) I don’t want to sell myself short, 2) having been a lifelong NYer, and quite probably returning here after graduation, I think I’d like some variety in my education – both in location, and in focus, and 3) cost is a concern, and if I can swing any sort of assistance outside of loans, it may factor in, so locking in may work against that.

Berkeley gets the nod due to the MBA exchange with Columbia (as well as family), and Chicago/NW are another toss-up. UCLA is for the reasons mentioned above, and Yale because I figure, if nothing else, if I’m going to be that far down the scale, at least I’ll have access to the Yale club if I can get a job in NY. ;) Though if I've been shot down by everyone at that point, I'll probably call it a day and focus on the CFA while trying to backdoor my way into trading without an MBA.

Round 1
Wharton (Reach)
MIT (Reach)
Stanford (Reach)
Columbia (Target)

Round 2
Berkeley (Target)
NYU (Safety)
Chicago/Northwestern (Reach)

Round 3
UCLA (Safety)
Yale (Safety)

Does anybody have any thoughts/suggestions on things I should focus on more? Either on my application strategy, and on how realistic my career goals are (is it too late to make the switch into trading?).

Any feedback at all would be appreciated.
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Re: BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 28 Jul 2008, 11:03
You have a few huge things stacked against you. Age and your GPA. Your GMAT can help to balance out the GPA but honestly even with a 770 your 2.5 is going to really going to hurt you. Your age and experience makes you much better suited for an executive program than a fulltime so you are going to be fighting that battle. Based on the older students I met, many were military or come from very unusual backgrounds. I know of an alum of a top 10 school who actually was a retired military guy with 20 years of service when he started.

Also I hate to say it but you are going to be old (38 at graduation) for someone trying to switch into banking, especially since you want the more competitive areas where people often have prior experience. It is possible but once again you are going to need convincing reasons.

Its possible to get in but competition is going to be very stiff this year and you definitely are going to have to really sell your why now and why an MBA...they are going to look at you as someone who is ideal for an EMBA program. I really suggest you look into the EMBA programs offered by some of the schools, your ROI wont be nearly what it will be for a 26 year old. I would bet your salary is higher than the starting offers given to first year bankers, so your cost of going for lost wages will be much higher and you will have far fewer years to get back what you lost out on. An EMBA would allow you to work fulltime and if you have the contacts in the industry then its possible to make the jump anyways. I know someone who was general council for a PE company and got his EMBA and transitioned into the other side of the firm...kick the tires and ask questions of your network about it before you take the leap.

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Kellogg Class of 2010...still active and willing to help. However, I do not do profile reviews, don't offer predictions on chances and am far to busy to review essays, so save the energy of writing me a PM seeking help for these. If I don't respond to a PM that is not one of the previously mentioned trash can destined messages, please don't take it personally I get so many messages I have a hard to responding to most. The more interesting, compelling, or humorous you message the more likely I am to respond.
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Re: BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 28 Jul 2008, 12:02
Thanks.

My salary is indeed higher at the moment, but since I've left partner track, it's not likely to get any higher in the future, so there's limited growth potential. Besides, it's not just about the money - being a lawyer sucks, even at $200k+/year.

An EMBA program doesn't seem to make sense for me at the moment. Since I'm going for a career change, it wouldn't offer me the opportunity to network into the positions I want (trading) and out of the positions where my past experience and connections are the strongest (i-banking). Additionally, my current position requires 50 hours a week time, and just isn't compatible with a part time school commitment on top of it.

My thoughts on GPA are simply that they can be discounted as a function of my youth, and superceded by the fact that I was a dean's list student at a good law school in the interim. At least that's the argument I plan on making.
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Re: BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 06 Aug 2008, 03:42
You may want to take a look at pelihu's profile and do a "comps analysis." He has a somewhat similar profile (but is a few years younger) and is on a full scholarship at Darden. I hate to say it too, but I think you may be slightly underestimating how hard it is to get into the schools you identified as "safeties."

In addition, based on what you wrote here, it is rather obvious that you want to do an MBA because you don't want to be a lawyer anymore. You don't want the person reading your application to go "oh no, another disillusioned lawyer" so that might not work considering the competitiveness of the schools you have on your list.
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Re: BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 06 Aug 2008, 07:55
Good point about Pelihu (our resident JD). However, if you ever saw his profile it is very impressive both professionally and all his ECs. Dont know how below 3.0 his gpa was or exactly how old he is. But he did go to one of the top public undergrads and went to a top 10 law school.

Here is how his applications played out: http://gmatclub.com/forum/post309837.html#p309837

One thing to remember he applied two application seasons ago. Schools have had 10-30% increases in applications between the year he applied and last year...every indication is that will happen again so schools that had 20% admission rates two years ago could be in the low teens.

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Kellogg Class of 2010...still active and willing to help. However, I do not do profile reviews, don't offer predictions on chances and am far to busy to review essays, so save the energy of writing me a PM seeking help for these. If I don't respond to a PM that is not one of the previously mentioned trash can destined messages, please don't take it personally I get so many messages I have a hard to responding to most. The more interesting, compelling, or humorous you message the more likely I am to respond.
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Re: BlueGrin's profile [#permalink] New post 07 Aug 2008, 16:57
Executive programs generally don't like students who want such a radical career change. They are mainly afraid that your expectations are not realistic. At your age and career, a full time program is pretty tough (even the safeties). Full time programs also look at undergrad GPA much more closely than executive programs. The average age at even the "older" MBA programs is around 27. Even at Wharton's executive MBA program, the average age is only 34.

I would suggest a part time or executive program but try to downplay how much you dislike being a lawyer. I'm not saying that you should lie, I'm just saying that you should think long and hard about why you want to go get an MBA and if your sole reason is "I hate being a lawyer. I want to be an investment banker"...it's not a good reason. The adcom will think that chances are you won't like being an investment banker and with your age and experience, an investment bank will probably not hire you as an incoming entry level associate...and the result will be that you're dissatisfied with the program, etc.

Sorry to sound a little harsh but I think that's the reality.

RVD.

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Re: BlueGrin's profile   [#permalink] 07 Aug 2008, 16:57
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