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
Born in Brooklyn, grew up in upstate New York suburbs.Academic
Undergrad: Respected, though not elite, state school
Degree: BA Mathematics, BA Philosophy
Top tier, but not elite, law school, ranked in 20’s over the past 10 years.
LSAT: 171 (99%ile)
GMAT: 770 (99 %ile); Q48 (84 %ile), V49 (99 %ile), AWA 6.0Professional
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/industriesGoals
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.
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.