I am stoked to be admitted to several great programs: Booth, INSEAD, and Duke, all full time. I'm mostly choosing between Booth and INSEAD, and leaning towards Booth (but maybe people will have other insights?). I know they are such different programs, and that's the challenge in choosing. Location, cost, duration, and global reputation of the school are all points of consideration.
Some background: I’m currently working in scientific research at a biotech company in the US, and I already hold a PhD (yeah, that was probably unnecessary). My career goals are to move into business development and strategic planning within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. I basically have no experience in business, and I guess I’d be considered a non-traditional-career-switcher. I might be interested in doing a stint in consulting at MBB before moving into the pharma-biotech sector.
In an ideal world I’d like to live and work in the EU, hence the appeal of INSEAD, but I don’t have EU citizenship – I heard that could be a hindrance in getting a job there – and I don’t really speak the local languages, only English and Russian, and I’m not so interested in winding up in Russia at the moment. INSEAD will be about 1.5x cheaper, and they even gave me a little bit of scholarship money. No money at Booth or Duke, and the cost of these programs is frightening. INSEAD is only 1 year – on the one hand it takes me out of the work force just for 1 year, but then I don’t get an internship to facilitate my career transition, and I hear from everyone that the MBA experience is so awesome that it’s worth doing it for as long as possible
So the worst-case scenario I see with INSEAD is that I won’t land a job in the EU, which is the whole point of going there, and then I’ll have to look for a job in the US, which would be harder because of the distance and poor name recognition of the school.
The things I love about Booth (other than the obvious, such as rankings and reputation) are: the strong academics, I feel like I would actually learn some solid quant subjects there; the university culture, the ability to take classes outside of the business school, and maybe participate in the music program; Chicago is a pretty decent city with a great arts and music scene, that’s important to me. Of course Paris is an awesome city, probably more awesome than Chicago, but INSEAD is not really in Paris. Last, but not least, the logistics of relocating myself across the Atlantic for an uncertain period of time are daunting. It would actually be easier to decide how much stuff to move if the post-MBA future was more certain, if I could know whether I’d be able to stay on in Europe or not. Maybe I shouldn’t even be worrying about this right now?
I should also make a comment that I’ve visited Booth, and spoken to students, so I know I love the culture there, whereas my knowledge of INSEAD is limited to one local info session, two interviews with alum, and reading up on the web.
The way I see it:Booth
Better name recognition
Less stressful move to Chicago
Get to do an internship
Much more expensive
Fewer connections with European companiesINSEAD
Great name recognition in Europe
Better opportunity to learn a third language (i.e. French)
Close to Paris
Uncertain job search prospects
Poor name recognition in the US