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I don't know what I want to do.....

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I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:00
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I honestly don't know what I want to do...

I know what I don't want to do - I don't want to work in IB working 100 hours a week. Beyond that, I'm pretty open. As I start my research, I realize that a lof of different things sound very interesting - investment management for instance, corporate finance could be boring, but maybe not, maybe a general mgmt job with a strategic focus - I've seen some that looked mighty fun, there's something called real estate finance listed on the employment reports but who knows what that really means - just mortgages? Or working securitizing those mortgages? Working at a trading desk for a mortgage company managing risk? Who knows. The list goes on like this. The more I research, the more I realize I just dont know enough about the day to day life of people in these roles to really make any kind of informed intelligent decisions.

What resources are you guys using to do your research?
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2007, 06:59
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well those are broad questions! :wink:

my experience in BM is not at a traditional packaged goods company. i'm at a toy company which is decidedly different. but when i was in advertising, all of my clients were pkgd goods companies so i'm intimately familiar with what they do too.

honestly, some days i spend the whole day in meetings. with my engineers to figure out how we can make a product actually work. briefing my packaging team about a new line we're doing and need a new logo for. with my ad agency looking at storyboards for the launch of a new item. it's endless. i call them "beatings." :)

those days suck. you come back to your desk at 5, with your inbox waiting for you with 75 unread emails.

but other days, like today, you don't have any meetings. i should be writing a deck right now to introduce our sales team to a new children's tv property that we're doing the toys for. and then i have to review the moderator's report from a recent set of focus groups we did and provide the team with some recommendations. and then i have to do a data analysis of competitive sales data to see what trends i can glean about a new category we're thinking of entering.

hours? that's the best part. hours are awesome. for the most part, i work 8-6. i do take my laptop home to do emails (always tons of emails) but at my company we have half-day fridays so it's even better. some days i work late, but never later than 8. i almost never work weekends. and when i have to officially work (travel, attending a conference, etc.) then i get a comp day to take another day. it is certainly not expected that you work on the weekends.

of course, i don't get paid to work 100 hrs a week either, so that is obviously a drawback. pay is good but not amazing. i also get paid less than other BMs because i don't have an MBA but that's a different issue ;)

what is my objective? wow that's an all-encompassing question. i build the brand. i know that sounds rather obtuse, but it's what i do. every part of the brand from product, to packaging, to communications, to managing the P&L, to working with sales to sell the product in to the trade, to making recommendations to senior management about how to increase our sku efficiency, to planning out our long-term brand strategy, and on and on. different brands have different areas of emphasis, of course. my current brands are both new launches so i don't have any POS analysis or damage control going on. it's all forward thinking.

does that help at all? :)

happy to answer any other questions!
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 11:00
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I think location is a big factor in quality of life for many jobs. Ibankers in NY work 80+ hours all the time, and it is just completely normal. Regardless of what they say, face time is extremely important, and you will be looked down upon if you are not in the office enough, even if you are efficient enough to finish faster. The expectations are different on the West Coast, and I wouldn't be surprised if many of the bankers in LA and SF work 15-20 hours week less than their NY counterparts. There is much more of a culture of getting your work done, and getting out while the sun is still shining.

Location can be a big factor in consulting as well, even though you are on the road all the time. I knew a lot of people that became consultants after undergrad. I had several friends around LA who were able to afford apartments on the beach, and seemed to enjoy a pretty reasonable quality of life on an analyst's (is that what they are called?) salary. I also knew a girl in NY who paid $1500 per month to share a 300 sq ft. (not joking) apartment with her twin sister ($3000 per month total). They were paid essentially the same as my friend in LA, which meant that they couldn't afford anything at all in NY.

I also had a friend in Michigan - and the untold secret for consulting is that you pretty much make the same no matter where you are based. He was living high off the hog making more or less the same money as people in LA and NY.

Now, I don't want anyone to think that I'm saying NY sucks, I actually love it there. They thing is, there a tons of people making lots and lots of money, so unless you are making lots of money you'll feel like you are missing out. The other thing is that the work culture in NY is really intense and you'll be wondering why you're working 80+ hours a week just to go back and forth from your shitty apt. If you have one of those jobs where you make enough money to be happy in NY, you probably work too hard to enjoy it.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that you probably need to look beyond the job description when deciding what career to pursue. The exact same job in a different location might make all the difference.
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 [#permalink] New post 03 Mar 2007, 18:27
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I'll describe a bit about what financial and strategy consulting is like.

First things first. Learn the lingo. Things like "five-o" don't mean police, they mean five days on site, zero off site. Conversly, "four-one" ... well you can guess what four one means. Most companies strive for four one, where the one either means in the home office or at home. Don't get too excited about the idea of a 4 day workweek though, cause most clients expect five-o, and you know what, thats right. Your partner will give it to them if they want it. A "deck" is a powerpoint presentation, don't ask me why. Some other ones that pop to mind

Utilization rate, basically the number of billable hours you billed in a 40 hour work week. Most companies have, either officially (or unofficially), certain target percentages by level. The lower your level, the higher your target. It's not uncommon for people who are working hard to have rates in excess of 120 or 140% - in part because you wont always be staffed.
"On the beach" or "On the bench": A term often used to describe when you are not staffed.
Rack rate: the standard rate you are charged at. Could be per hour or per month, either way, it's a !@(#! load more than you make.
Fixed fee or Fixed Bid: Relates to how the project is billed. Fixed projects mean the client and your firm agreed to a specific dollar figure, whether or not it takes 6 months or 8, 4 people or 12. The major downside to Fixed fee projects is that there is a pressure then to deliver as quickly as possible because the faster you are done, the bigger the margins. This tends to drive a lot of hours by as few people as possible. You can't manage revenue on a fixed bid project, but you can manage cost. You squeeze your staff.

T&E, time and expense. The other way of billing for projects. It also has positives and negatives, depending on what you are trying to do. As you might have guessed, the opposite is true here of fixed bid projects. The more you bill, the more you make. The incentive is to keep the project going (within reason) and to staff as many people working as many hours as you can justify. You stretch your staff. (An easy way to remember it is Fixed bids squeeze and T&E's stretch).

Contigent Fixed or Contigent T&E - Same basic thing, the difference is the fixed part or the T&E part is smaller, and the rest is contigent on some kind of outcome. Savings maybe, or possibly increased revenue, or something else - not a lot of firms do (or like) contigent work, because hte metric has to be very very clear.

So with that in mind, what might a week in a typical engagement look like?

Sunday night: fly out to site, check into hotel. This might also be monday morning, depending on the client, the travel, the destination, etc. Either way, you fly out Sunday or Monday.

Monday morning: Arrive at client site. You will typically have a small cubicle as your own temporary space. Things such as phones, etc might be up and running for you, they might not. A lot of project teams like to have weekly warm up meetings - get a pulse for where everyone is for the week on their deliverables. It's not uncommon for people to have a 1 hour meeting to kick the week off.

From here, wht happens next is largely a function of the project. One project I worked on involved overseeing and managing the project plan of a global 500 office Windows XP rollout. This meant a lot of phone calls. How's dallas doing on item X? Seattle on item Y? Did Q get done by date Y? Building a lot of status reports.

On another project, my role was PM oriented around real estate. I had to develop metrics to identify properly utilized space across multiple airports. So, for instance, if gate C23 was 1200 sq ft, was gate C23 too big? Did you even need gate C23? So, my job here was to take data about each airport - rooms, room sizes, square ft, etc, and develop an excel model to see what we could do to reduce size in certain areas. This involved mostly a lot of number crunching, some picking up the phone to talk to the local staff at an airport ("Hey do you guys really need 52 lockers in teh men's bathroom?"), you call a lot of airport operations people ("Can we reroute the 8am from Dallas to come in a little later?"), you negotiate with contractors ("I need you to come empty out the tanks in anchorage"), you gather competitive intelligence and you negotiate with other airlines. You prep senior executives for negotations - if the counterparty says "but X" they know to say "and Y". You make sure you know more about the market and the industry than they do.

On another project I was reducing expenses by analyzing spend. That is, we would get a download of the firm's GL accounts and where they were putting money - $2MM in electricity, $1MM in this, $500K in that, etc etc. From here, you start bucketing thousands of these entries together. For instance "AMERICAN EXPRESS" is actually probably Travel when you see it on a companies expenses, not a credit card. You might then see "NAVIGANT", also Travel. You place all of these into excel or access, and you start to categorize it. This will take you at least a week or two. It's mind numbing, but generally the lower analysts will do it. From there, you start to mold the data until you see where some opportunities exist. You then pull contracts for each of these vendors and see how their prices compare to those in the industry. You look for opportunities that might not be obvious. For instance, lets say Fedex offered company X a great deal on packages weighing under <1 pound, and a good deal on packages weighing under 2 pounds, but a totally crap deal on pacakages over 5 pounds? Lets say the EFFECTIVE POUND PRICE seemed really good... but it's distribution wasn't normal like I described. If you noticed that, you might then ask yourself "Well, do we ship more 1 pound items or more 5 pound items?" - and you'd find that in fact, you ship almost all 5 pounds or more. The huge discounts your getting on the 1 pound shipments don't basically do anything for you. And thats basically the kinds of opportunities you look for.

Another client had asked us to analyze their call center issues. Basically, their sales staff had so many loops to jump through, by the time they got a prospect a quote, the prospect had found another person to use. (this wasn't like an insta-quote thing, it had to go through a lot of levels, it was complex price quoting for custom needs). They wanted to know how they could streamline the process, specifically, at first, for hotels. So, our role was to look at the process, identify weak areas, and figure out what could be done. You get the idea.

So, the day to day activities can vary a lot, but its basically a lot of:

* Data crunching, market analyses
* Powerpoint presentations
* Navigating industries you know nothing about
* Learning to work with senior mgmt at clients

Your monday will end late, there's no excuse for it not to, especially if you flew in that day. Expect to leave at 7, check in at hotel first, dinner at 8. Could also be 8, dinner at 9. Dinner, more likely than not, will be with your team. Get used to it.

The rest of the week will follow a similar schedule, breakfasts at 7.00am, client at 8am or 8.30am, (never later), leave around 8 or 9pm, sometimes later, sometimes dinner with your team, sometimes dinner in your hotel room. Often late nights, and lots of experience coping with delayed or missed flights.

Thats basically strategy consulting. Any questions fire away.
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 11:27
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jumsumtak wrote:

Is it pretty much the same with your classmates as well? Are people headstrong on what they want to do now - as compared to what they were when they came in ?


Most people are confident in what they want to do for their internship. Some people are still looking for internships and/or still trying to figure out what they want to do full-time once graduation comes (e.g. people who want to intern at startups haven't really even started recruiting yet).

For me, I still think there are a few areas (healthcare and energy come to mind) that I haven't been able to spend the time investigating because they were interesting to me but not at the top of my careers list.

I am looking forward to hearing about my classmates' summer experiences and seeing how many people have a totally different career goal after getting a taste of their target industry. After going through the internship recruiting process for a company and talking with 2nd years who interned there, alumni who work there, and the recruiters of the firm, there really shouldn't be any big surprises but I am sure there will be.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 08:52
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aaudetat wrote:
rhyme wrote:
kidderek wrote:
lhotseface wrote:
Most undecided people seem to end up in Management Consulting. After a couple of years, they get tired of the hotels, the airports and working in far flung places like Mobil, Alabama. At this point, they pick an industry they fancy or have experience in and join it in a corporate dev./gen. management role. My worst fear is that I will follow the crowd at school ending up as a finance monkey in IB and eventually hate myself two years after graduation.

I want to find out more about rotational programs, any one talked to a current student/alum about this ?


That's the route that I wanted to take, but consulting seems to be the most difficult industry to break in to. The travel and inconsistent schedule can be a drag too.


Consulting is easy to break into. Don't worry about that.


Really? Why does everyone act like it's the world's biggest deal? Or is it just the biggies that are hard to get into? As I've been working on this, consulting has actually piqued my interest, but I've kept that to myself. It seemed like showing up to an interview and saying, "I want to do consulting!" was too much like when I was 8 and wanted to be a movie star.

Yeah, sweetie, sure thing.


Because it's not a hard and fast area. That is, it's not saying "I want to work for an IB" where they will care what specific courses you've taken that address key knowledge areas. Do you know NPV? Can you figure out yield curves? Do you know crap about WACC? etc etc.

It's not like trying to get a job in corporate where your industry experience, or lack thereof matters. Know nothing about the mortgage industry? Hard to make an argument to be a product manager in that area.

Now consulting's different. You dont need any industry knowledge because its any industry. It doesn't matter what. Don't know NPV? Thats ok, it might not come up. It just depends on the projects. We dont have to staff you at Goldman, we can staff you at Pillsbury. Basically a consulting gig boils down to little more than a "can you think, do you mind travel, and will you fit in?"

And cases are easy once you learn how to do them.

That's also the problem with consulting. You spend a couple years in it, and by the end of it, unless you get high enough - say director or above - you've become a jack of all trades and a king of none. You don't know one industry especially well, becuase you've worked in fifteen by then, you dont know any one company very well, because you've worked for twenty of them, and you find yourself in a position where you know a little bit about a lot, but not a lot about a little bit.
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 [#permalink] New post 03 Mar 2007, 20:19
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Do you think that is accurate, or is that just a load of crap. One to three days on the road per week seem very reasonable. 5 days on the road would suck. Do you think this is believable? I remember reading on the Morgan Stanley website that they had flex-time and work from home arrangements, but I think that's all crap. They might have it for secretaries or something, but not the bankers.


I dont want to bash Bain, because frankly, I don't know if it's true or not, so take my view with a grain of salt. That said, my gut tells me it's not entirely true. I read that and it sounds a LOT like other statements I've heard from other companies - though no one outright says 3 days a week onsite, regional only.

When I read:

"Consultants can expect to travel. However, Bain's business model is more conducive to one to three days a week instead of four or five days. We can work from our home offices and visit the client only when necessary. In addition, we are staffed on our local office partners' cases. As a result, our travel is typically regional, which means shorter trips."


I see:

"Our consultants travel a lot. However, at Bain we try to keep it to three days a week unless work demands more or the client expresses a preference otherwise or the partner deems it necessary because of some presentation they have. When that doesn't happen, we work from our offices, and of course we try to keep our staffing regional, which doesn't mean you wont be flying, it just means we'll try to keep your flight time within 4 hours in any direction. That is, unless there is a shortage of staff, a need for someone with your skillset, a specific request for you by a partner or client needs that otherwise demand additional travel."

It sounds to me like a firm that understands the difficult lifestyle of consulting, and tries to be accommodating but probably isn't as much as they suggest there. I can't think of a single client I've ever worked with that would accept a one-day a week onsite engagement. I mean, think about it, your paying a team of four upwards of $75,000 a week in burn and you are OK with them being onsite once or twice a week?

Now, that said, I will say that I've never seen a consulting company make a claim as bold as Bains of ONE to THREE - so I must admit, the sheer audacity of the claim piques my interest. I'll have to ask around and see if its true, but for now, I'd be lumping this right next to Morgan Stanleys "flexible work from home schedule".
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2013, 11:18
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bump..

Great thread. Can we get a few post-MBA experiences here?
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 13:41
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IB sucks. Period.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 15:52
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eazyb81 wrote:
If the industry was so horrible, why would so many people be fighting each other for these BB jobs? Why is IB the #1 industry MBAs want to get into to?


Because IB is probably the only industry where you don't need a specific skillset and still earn $$$. The job is a commodity. Anyone can do it.

There's a reason people who've done IB never go back and the ones who go into IB out of MBA never did IB.

The best kept secret are the industries nobody wants to get into. Hedge funds have only been around for (what) 5 years. It's not even an established industry. (sounds like dotcom bubble)

My money is on the GM, Nabisco, Sony corporations. Or better yet an established mutual fund.
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2007, 06:32
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rhyme wrote:
Brand Management (i want to manage people not things)


i found this comment very interesting. i work in brand management now (with a background in advertising) and my job is all about people, very little about "things." marketing in general is so much more fluffy and people oriented relative to some of the other careers you guys are talking about here (well, maybe not as much as MC)... my job is essentially being the leader of my cross-functional team to, well, manage the brand. the downside of this, of course, is that you're in meetings ALL DAY! :p

regardless, if anyone has any questions about brand management i'd be happy to offer my experiences up...
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 [#permalink] New post 02 Mar 2007, 15:27
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PIMCO is a great place to work, especially the headquarters being in Newport Beach,the best place of the country to live in. I have a friend who works there, got a job right out of Princeton undergrad. My brother who has a Wharton undergrad degree, works as an equity analyst at a boutique firm. For him, a CFA is more important than a MBA since he is already in the industry. At 24 years of age, he makes over $100K. Almost all his colleagues are MBAs from top schools (M7 mostly) who leveraged their degree to change career path. Not having a MBA will not impede his career since it is almost exclusively performance driven.
Being an equity analyst provides you with skills that are needed everywhere, buyside, PE, hedge fund, portfolio management.
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 [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2007, 12:46
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aaudetat wrote:
With consulting, isn't there ever stuff to do at the home office? Reporting on projects, meeting with other home staff, etc?


No, usually not. The primary reason is that consulting tends to be a face-time focused industry. You stay as long as the client works, and then you stay as long your manager stays, who will stay as long as the principal stays who wont leave before the partner, who wont leave until he feels like it cause he's probably just reading the paper anyway. Either way, your partner wants to know that if the client asks for something, his team is ready and there to knock it out in lightning record time.

I'm not saying what you do couldn't be done remotely - I dont think I've ever had a job where I couldn't do it remotely - its just that clients dont like that. There's pressure from them not to be remote, and their is usually pressure from partners as well. They have a point of course - most of the time you need the client's help in getting things done. That means being onsite and scheduling meetings, not impersonal conference calls. Clients are also not always all that helpful or willing to spend time with consultants - sometimes theres some hostility there - and you need to be onsite to track down employees who arent getting you what you need. Emails and phone calls are too easy to ignore. A person standing in your cubicle is much harder to brush off.

As for reporting on a project - if you have to report on status and you need input from people - which you no doubt do - you again come back to the "running people down" aspect which can do onsite, but you cant off.

As for meeting with other home staff, there's no reason you should be doing that on company time anyway, and it'd likely be frowned upon. Just because you aren't on a company site doesn't mean they don't expect you to be working. Usually people try to meet for lunch and the like, but there isn't, at least in my experience, a big push for "home office networking time".
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 19 Mar 2013, 08:06
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Currently in my 1st year of MBA program. Going in, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do (I had only ruled out Finance/Ibanking) and what I want to do is still subject to change. However, for my internship, I wanted a taste of something with autonomy and responsibility for innovation or new product launch. Prior to school, I was on an innovation team at a CPG and I liked the work itself but felt it was too slow-moving for my preferences. I think I will be much more successful in a fast-paced environment.

So, I am going to Amazon this summer for a Senior Product Manager internship. I am really excited and I know it will be a very different experience, allowing me to 'triangulate' what it is that I want to do after graduation.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:04
The Princeton review has some great "A life in the Day of X" that gives you and idea of what the normal day is for each job and total comp. Also Vault is great and I am using people in the sectors I am looking into and getting their opinions.
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:07
Princeton Review, Vault, and Wetfeet are the best resources out there, IMO.
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:31
rhyme wrote:
I honestly don't know what I want to do...



Question: What the heck did you write in your essays regarding focus/goal?

I'm kind of in the same boat. I imagine many people contemplating bschool are as well.
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:35
rhyme wrote:
I honestly don't know what I want to do...

I know what I don't want to do - I don't want to work in IB working 100 hours a week. Beyond that, I'm pretty open. As I start my research, I realize that a lof of different things sound very interesting - investment management for instance, corporate finance could be boring, but maybe not, maybe a general mgmt job with a strategic focus - I've seen some that looked mighty fun, there's something called real estate finance listed on the employment reports but who knows what that really means - just mortgages? Or working securitizing those mortgages? Working at a trading desk for a mortgage company managing risk? Who knows. The list goes on like this. The more I research, the more I realize I just dont know enough about the day to day life of people in these roles to really make any kind of informed intelligent decisions.

What resources are you guys using to do your research?


None can beat the real exposure.. what i am trying to do is talk to alumni in the specific field.....or networking with my undergrad alumni who pursued diverse careers
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Re: I don't know what I want to do..... [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 07:45
I am with you rhyme! I think that many jobs sound interesting and I do not feel dedicated to any one career path. As far as I am concerned, if hours are reasonable (so I can also focus on the important things in life) and work is intersteing, I'll sign up for it. I have met numerous prospective and current students on my school visits, and the one thing I noticed is that those with finance background want to get into consulting, those in consulting want to get into marketing, and so on. It is like everyone thinks that someone else's job is better... I supose the story would be different with Exec. MBAs, but still...


rhyme wrote:
I honestly don't know what I want to do...

I know what I don't want to do - I don't want to work in IB working 100 hours a week. Beyond that, I'm pretty open. As I start my research, I realize that a lof of different things sound very interesting - investment management for instance, corporate finance could be boring, but maybe not, maybe a general mgmt job with a strategic focus - I've seen some that looked mighty fun, there's something called real estate finance listed on the employment reports but who knows what that really means - just mortgages? Or working securitizing those mortgages? Working at a trading desk for a mortgage company managing risk? Who knows. The list goes on like this. The more I research, the more I realize I just dont know enough about the day to day life of people in these roles to really make any kind of informed intelligent decisions.

What resources are you guys using to do your research?
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2007, 08:30
Most undecided people seem to end up in Management Consulting. After a couple of years, they get tired of the hotels, the airports and working in far flung places like Mobil, Alabama. At this point, they pick an industry they fancy or have experience in and join it in a corporate dev./gen. management role. My worst fear is that I will follow the crowd at school ending up as a finance monkey in IB and eventually hate myself two years after graduation.

I want to find out more about rotational programs, any one talked to a current student/alum about this ?
  [#permalink] 01 Mar 2007, 08:30
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