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Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)?

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Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 09:32
Hello,

I would really welcome your view on my situation and profile.

I am a 27yo with BSc and MSc in social sciences, 1y WE in international development and 2y in market research.
Being stuck with my job I realized I want to move more into business (ideally consulting), decided to pursue an MBA and just started preparing the GMAT. I now received though a job offer from a small but international management consultancy. Now my big question is: MBA or new job?

On the MBA side, I am really sure that is something I want to do and that I would truly enjoy, and that potentially could open me the doors to more high level jobs through on-campus recruiting.

On the job side…well is a new and more interesting job which I could start very soon. Besides, even if junior level would give more insight and knowledge on how businesses work, and I am sure I would learn a lot. My idea would be to spend a couple of years there and then maybe apply for an MBA. On the upside I would have more time to prepare well the GMAT and schools applications. On the downside, by time I would start an MBA I would be 30-31 (too old for a career change?) and I am not sure how my experience would be seen by Adcoms (jumping around jobs rather than clear career progression)?

Thanks in advance for any kind of advice you can provide!
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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 17:14
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Joe,
No, age would be less of a negative factor at European schools. I understand your point about the new position expanding your skills, but top schools do look for evidence of 'fast track' career progress as well as a sense that your own goals are evolving, becoming more focused. So in that sense demonstrating greater breadth in skills by making a lateral or even backward move would potentially weaken your chances. Keep in mind, that business schools define being 'well rounded' not primarily in professional terms in personal terms (the totality of your profile), and since they see their programs as a way of diversifying your skill set they would not expect you to achieve that through your career path before business school.

If you plan to apply to B-school in the next few months, then you may want to apply from within your current job. If you plan to apply later and are unhappy in your current job, then find a new one, just try to make it a step forward that fits your long-term career goals.

--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School, http://www.paulsbodine.com/testimonials

Joe00 wrote:
Hi Paul,

Thank you for your answer. To clarify, I would aim at a high rank school yes, not necessarily Tier 1 but definitely something in the top 30 let’s say, but I would consider something less selective as fallback option.

Would age be such a key factor in European schools, where average age is higher (38% at Insead are in the 29-31 bracket)?

My other question is, would a spell at a new job still at junior level, rather than staying longer in my job and achieve a role promotion, actually diminish my profile ? I know that in reality I would be a much stronger and well-rounded candidate in terms of experience and skills, but I am not sure of the impression on paper.

As you rightly assume, I would need a minimum of 3-4 months to put together a good GMAT/application, which means I would still need to apply next Sept at 28 for most programs. If I move job now, I could still apply a year later at 29, without wasting other 1 / 2 years at my current job.

Thanks again

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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2012, 06:11
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Hey Joe,
Well a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as they say. I think it's not a bad idea to take advantage of this opportunity you have right now. It's true that this might make you a bit older when you apply, but honestly, 30 is not that old at all (in fact most Bschools average is about 27-28, except for a few of the very top schools). so anyhow you have this opportunity now, which seems interesting, and wiser than rushing an MBA application.

What WOULD be a great idea would be for you to consider taking the GMAT by say, this May. After all the scores are good for five years. If you get a good score it will get it out of the way. and at the same time allow you to be ready to apply whenever you are ready, be it next year or in five. In the meanwhile, at your new workplace focus on taking advantage of your managerial and business opportunities and go the extra mile (and if your profile is lacking in volunteer work NOW would be the moment to start working on that), that way a few years down the line, when you ARE ready, you will really be ready.

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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 22 Nov 2012, 01:47
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Hey Joe,
You got it dude. Happy to help.

I understand your concerns about age and growth, but I think you can work your way around them. Like I wrote I think applying at 30 is pretty fine. When you do pass thirty things get a bit more difficult every year, but again, you may be strengthening your application in other ways, so it may balance out and you need to think about that. (Once you start to hit 34, 35 though, the schools will suggest you apply to EMBA programs). As for the single direction, you need to take your career in the direction that feels right for you and not choose your career based on Business School. I have found that even the most all-over-the-place career can be managed with a good story.

The volunteer-work thing is important, and since you have a few years you have no excuse at all for not starting NOW. The best would be to choose/find a position that would allow you leadership opportunities (so for example, you could offer to lead some volunteer group at your workplace), and the next important thing is to do it consistently for a long time, so that you can show dedication and results.

This can help a lot (even if your work experience is still more important)
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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 09:56
Joe00,
The age factor is the key factor here. Assuming that your desire for the MBA and to experience the new job are the same, then the fact that you would be 30-31 when you left the new job for business school should tilt you toward pursuing the MBA now, especially if you want to target top schools. If it's less important that you get into a top-brand national program (e.g., you would be happy with a non-selective program that has a strong brand in your region), then you could wait and even at 30-31 have a decent or better chance of getting into a good regional school (say one that's outside the top 20). To get into a top 20 school, however, you want to minimize negative factors and being 30-31 is such a factor simply because it places you in the oldest 5-10% of most classes, meaning that you will have to offsetting profile strengths that make you the older applicant they decide to admit. So the question is, when will you be ready to take the GMAT and earn a 720 or so? In a month? In six months? If six months, then you could apply next fall, at 28, which is still 'in the game' age-wise. Assuming that you earn a 720 next month or next year, the question is: is your profile strong enough to get into a top 20 school? To answer that question, I would have to see your resume. Feel free to send it to me at paulbodine@yahoo.com

--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School, http://www.paulsbodine.com/testimonials


Joe00 wrote:
Hello,

I would really welcome your view on my situation and profile.

I am a 27yo with BSc and MSc in social sciences, 1y WE in international development and 2y in market research.
Being stuck with my job I realized I want to move more into business (ideally consulting), decided to pursue an MBA and just started preparing the GMAT. I now received though a job offer from a small but international management consultancy. Now my big question is: MBA or new job?

On the MBA side, I am really sure that is something I want to do and that I would truly enjoy, and that potentially could open me the doors to more high level jobs through on-campus recruiting.

On the job side…well is a new and more interesting job which I could start very soon. Besides, even if junior level would give more insight and knowledge on how businesses work, and I am sure I would learn a lot. My idea would be to spend a couple of years there and then maybe apply for an MBA. On the upside I would have more time to prepare well the GMAT and schools applications. On the downside, by time I would start an MBA I would be 30-31 (too old for a career change?) and I am not sure how my experience would be seen by Adcoms (jumping around jobs rather than clear career progression)?

Thanks in advance for any kind of advice you can provide!

_________________

Paul Bodine /
Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance

Follow Paul Bodine on Twitter

Intern
Intern
avatar
Joined: 17 Nov 2012
Posts: 26
Concentration: General Management, International Business
GMAT 1: 700 Q49 V36
GMAT 2: 730 Q48 V41
GPA: 4
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 15

Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 14:51
Hi Paul,

Thank you for your answer. To clarify, I would aim at a high rank school yes, not necessarily Tier 1 but definitely something in the top 30 let’s say, but I would consider something less selective as fallback option.

Would age be such a key factor in European schools, where average age is higher (38% at Insead are in the 29-31 bracket)?

My other question is, would a spell at a new job still at junior level, rather than staying longer in my job and achieve a role promotion, actually diminish my profile ? I know that in reality I would be a much stronger and well-rounded candidate in terms of experience and skills, but I am not sure of the impression on paper.

As you rightly assume, I would need a minimum of 3-4 months to put together a good GMAT/application, which means I would still need to apply next Sept at 28 for most programs. If I move job now, I could still apply a year later at 29, without wasting other 1 / 2 years at my current job.

Thanks again
Intern
Intern
avatar
Joined: 17 Nov 2012
Posts: 26
Concentration: General Management, International Business
GMAT 1: 700 Q49 V36
GMAT 2: 730 Q48 V41
GPA: 4
WE: Consulting (Consulting)
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 15

Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2012, 17:27
Thank you very much for your view Paul.

Unfortunately I started looking seriously into doing an MBA just recently, and I feel I would need anyway some time to put together a good GMAT and application pack….which also does not match well with deadlines.

I fully understand your point about career progress, but unfortunately I don’t see where I am now as really helping on that side… I hope a new job would add more in terms of internationality to say one, and would help me putting together a story of a path from a non-traditional background towards more ‘core-business’ roles (being consulting my medium-term career goal).

In general, is fair to say that a new job is a short term opportunity in front of me, but I do not want to totally give up the idea of an MBA as I am sure it would led me further in the long term…
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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 20 Nov 2012, 06:28
Hi Jon,

thanks very much for your comment. It does go in the same direction of my thinking. I think it would give me a great opportunity to focus on taking a GMAT score as high as possible and THEN look for schools, rather than rushing all at the same time. My main concerns are

1) To show a fragmented career rather than growing in 1 direction
2) Being a bit too old not for Bschool per se, but also for prospective employers post MBA if I want to enter new industries

But it looks like if I can build and explain a relevant story and ambition that would not be as bad as I may have thought.

Yes I also lack substantial volunteer work, which is something else to address I guess (I am still confused on how important this can be... struggle to think that all MBAs also managed a charity or led a fundraising campaign..)
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Kudos [?]: 10 [0], given: 15

Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 22 Nov 2012, 06:25
Thanks again Jon. You are right that I need to thing where I want to direct my career... Assuming I would really like to work in strategy consulting, I think a good MBA is the only way for me to have a chance at it. So I was wondering whether an experience at a small unknown consultancy first would help or not. Guess only time will tell! The good thing I guess is that if I like the job I may stay, while if I don’t I know I can still have a shot at Bschool!
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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)? [#permalink] New post 23 Nov 2012, 04:34
Expert's post
It's probably not a bad idea. If you're good and you work hard, recognition will follow. Especially if you aren't the ideal hire from the get go (so, young single, valedictorian, ivy league and super high GMAT). But there are a million paths to success...

Good luck on following yours
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Re: Help: MBA or new job (and then MBA)?   [#permalink] 23 Nov 2012, 04:34
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