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Hey Alex, > > I am a prospective applicant, who is still very early in his career but is planning to for mba next year. I graduated from a large state school in December 2007 with BBA in Accounting & Finance with decent GPA's. (3.4). I had tons of extra cirriculars and have lived in dozen different countries and exposed to different cultures. Post-graduation I got offers from all big4 but went for an international middle market audit firm who is pretty strong here in Houston. I have been on fast track and promoted to senior staff in a year specializing in Energy industry. I am already a CPA and currently planning for CFA level 1 in June. I am planning to apply at then end of the year. So what are my realistic chances? I am thinking UT or Rice at this moment but would Cornell, NYU, Columbia or other top schools a long stretch for me? I will be 25 in summer of 2010 if that would affect my chances. I am with MGMAT and currently scoring around 680-720 in practice tests.
p.s I want to move out of accounting and go into finance, preferably M&A or Corp Development in Energy industry.
First, you're young and have little experience. You may be a well rounded person which is good (you're not all finance, all the time), but that doesn't make up for the lack of experience.
Secondly, in this kind of environment your lack of experience will be an even bigger handicap when it comes to MBA recruiting - especially finance. You'll be competing against other MBA classmates who will have more finance experience than you -- and in this day and age experience trumps credentials (so your CFA, CPA, etc. won't really mean a whole lot compared to some guy who has 2-3 years of finance experience).
As you probably know, the financial services industry has seen the biggest sh*tstorm since the Great Depression. They are shedding more jobs than they are taking on. The financial industry won't go away, but it's going through a huge reorganization structurally, which will take a few years to play out. Some banks will fall (count on it). Others may get nationalized. Others will get sliced, diced, recombined and sold off to be then recombined with other smaller units. New institutions may even emerge.
As such, your best bet is to stick to your day job now and wait it out for a few years, especially since you're young.
In 2-3 years, you will be in a better position to transition into finance from where you're at right now. I normally don't recommend people to "wait" to make a career switch (i.e. if you've decided to do it, do it now! Why waste time?), but this is one of those exceptions.
If you want to get into finance but you can afford to wait, you are better off waiting.
I absolutely agree with you, and I consider applying for an MBA knowing that odds would be against me when it comes to recruiting since I will only have 30 months of full time experience upon matriculation.
But, my sole reason for applying to MBA is not to get into land a high six figure job or get into investment banking or vice versa. It just that I want to be done with my MBA by 2012. (My fiancee will be done with school in summer 2012 and we both plan to marry then and not worry about going back to school).
And Yes I do accept that fact that I might not get an ideal job after mba, but money and prestige of employer is secondary to me. I just want to have an MBA from a good school and get a decent job.
So on that point, I would really appreciate if you can evaluate my profile and based on your knowledge advice me on which school should I be focusing on as stretch/sweet spot/safety schools?
My advice wasn't assuming a "prestigious" job. It was assuming *any* finance-related job. I really think you're underestimating how bad it is in the industry right now. Corporate development and internal M&A positions are amongst the most vulnerable jobs in tough times - because what they do isn't core to the company's activities. M&A activity is hot during good times. It tends to slow to a crawl during bad times. Of course assets may be "cheap" but there's a reason why -- because no one has the resources to buy (and therefore bid the prices up).
As you said you "just want to have an MBA from a good school and get a decent job." And I'm telling you if you can wait, you should wait. With respect to your personal situation, I can't really comment on it but you really have to think twice about dropping a crapload of money this soon.
Also, with your experience it's hard to say. My guess is that while your numbers (GPA and GMAT - assuming you do well on it) are in range, you will still be relatively under-experienced for the local schools like Texas or Rice. My hunch is that schools like Columbia, NYU and Cornell are going to be a stretch. You seem to have a good start to your career thus far, and if you work for another 1-2 more years you should be competitive for schools like Columbia, NYU, Cornell and so forth.
I get that you're trying to get it all done at once to coincide with your personal life, but you're shooting yourself in the foot if you apply now. That's my opinion.