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Looking for advice and insight

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Joined: 02 Jun 2010
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Looking for advice and insight [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2010, 11:59
Hello Everyone,

I've been cruising through the various threads and forums here for about 4 months now (which is about how long I've been thinking if not really preparing for the GMAT). I've come to somewhat of a crossroads and would like to see what you distinguished individuals think. I apologize if this is a bit long or if this is in the wrong thread (you'll find this intersects peer review, GMAT prep, Bschool questions, and masters programs).

Background: As a new member of this forum, I'd generally follow the template for a thread like this, but my case will cover most of the info without the clutter of seperate responses and then explanations. To begin with background, I am currently in the summer before my senior year. I'll be graduting early in December of 2010 from George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs (Int'l Economics concentration) and a minor in Business Administration. I've had three internships, two at the same organization (A quasi financial services org that acts as part commercial lender and investment bank and part development organization). My future professional interests lie somewhere at the intersection of real estate finance and private equity, property development & design, and developing country infrastructure. My family’s business is in real estate development and I have spent many summers at work sites and in the office doing research and planning.

Grad School: This is where it gets complicated. I realize that I both want and need to work and gain experience to both have a chance at getting into Bschool and to get the most out of it. Ideally, I'd like to go within the next 5 years and as such I have begun preparing to take the GMAT (I got Q40, V36, 620 on my 1st GMAT Prep two weeks ago—so we’ll see). I’ve purchased most of the recommended materials (the GMAT Club recommended providers list was very helpful!). I’ve signed up for the GMAT in early December which is 3 weeks after my hypothetical GMAT Prep class ends and because I only have class 2 days/week this fall semester, I’ll have 5 days/week to study. I’ve looked into the in-person prep classes with Manhattan GMAT (I liked their trial) and I’m leaning towards enrolling this fall.

What complicates matters is that my interest has also led me to believe that a Masters of Science in Real Estate would also be helpful. As I’m sure some of you know, there are dozens of threads throughout those “intertubes” dealing with the MSRE vs MBA debate. I personally believe that as someone extremely interested in real estate, it makes since for me to get an MSRE and develop niche knowledge and then develop greater business owners and management skills in though an MBA later on.

All this to say that I’ve looked into the proper programs and I’m not here to ask “What is the best MSRE program or what is the best MBA program” because I don’t want to start WWIII here; I’m leaning towards the new Carey School at JHU’s MSRE program because the full-time is geared towards those with less experience and is close to my DC base. I think it makes the most since to go soon after undergrad (unless I get a really compelling job offer that I’m not expecting).

Now the questions begin.
1. The Carey MSRE application comes out in September, but I have only recently started GMAT preparation. I want to apply this fall for JHU MSRE Fall 2011 enrollment, but I have signed up to take the GMAT this December which I fear is too late. Should I take the GMAT in September and risk a lower score but be able to use said score in my application or wait until I’m better prepared?
2. Am I crazy in believing that MSRE and then MBA is the best option for me? This isn’t an existential question. The one issue I have with the MSRE is that there are many MBA programs which offer something like a concentration in real estate, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to break deep enough into the RE field without an MSRE or MBA to demonstrate true leadership.
3. Similarly, will my MBA application package be too lightweight if I have the MSRE but then at max only 3 years experience (if I graduate MSRE in Spring 2012, then I have 3 years until GMAT expiration)?
4. I’m a little concerned that I’m jumping the gun on the GMAT, especially during my last semester when I want continue getting decent grades. Do a lot of undergrads attempt the GMAT? Is it better to focus on trying to secure an internship exclusively within real estate?
5. Should I just bite the proverbial bullet and screw the MSRE and try and get a full-time gig?

I realize I probably sound like Lindsay Lohan on her way to jail with all this stuff, but I sort of just need someone to talk it through with because my career center, while helpful, doesn’t have answers for the type of specific, situational questions I have. I know it’s a lot of ask for a newbie “Intern” to come in and spill their beans as if this is Oprah’s couch, but if someone could just offer some guidance, even just somewhere to look—another site, a book, something so I don’t feel that each day is without sufficient decisions. I realize this is becoming the 8th Harry Potter, but thank you in advance to any brave enough to read this beast and thank you ll for being a welcoming committee.
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Re: Looking for advice and insight [#permalink] New post 21 Jul 2010, 17:42
hello and welcome to gmatclub, I know way too little about Carey's new program and real estate program to give you an insight on some questions, but I'll hopefully shed some light on the ones I can answer.

1. I don't know about Carey's program regarding GMAT, so I won't be able to talk much about the application process. Keep in mind about the GMAT: you may take it in September or December and gain admission to this MSRE program. If your score is not decent enough and you plan to retake it, GMAT is going on a big change in 2012, for which you will have to re-prep if you're going to retake it before you apply for b-school. Keep that in mind as you make your decision.

2. I can't comment on MSRE vs MBA.

3. Three years of full time work experience is borderlining on the average years of WE in terms of b-school admission. It's not to say that you won't get in, but you'll be on the less-experienced side of admission. However, it's really the quality, not the quantity of the work that's assessed. So if within these three years, you're able to display superior leadership ability, managerial potential, and take initiatives and actions to make changes, your three years will be as good as someone with 5, or 6 years of WE. It's a big variable at this very moment since you haven't really landed your real work yet.

4. I personally don't recommend undergrad taking GMAT for several reasons. Firstly, how do you know that you WILL get an MBA? Why do you think you need an MBA? If you aren't able to fully and clearly answer these questions, why do you think you need to take the GMAT in your senior year? It's $250 that can go towards a kickass graduation present for yourself. Secondly, the GMAT change in 2012 is going to bring a lot of uncertainty to people who's going to be applying post-2012 with a pre-2012 GMAT score. How the score will be viewed is up to the AdCom and no one will know, right now, how scores are going to be affected. You risk your chance of re-prepping for GMAT if you take it now and then need to take it again in 2014. Lastly, your GPA should come first as of right now. As you get older, you'll find out (when you do start looking into applying to b-school) that GPA is the one good indicator that b-school adcom cares about, but it's also the one good numerical indicator that you will have absolutely no control of after you graduate. You can certainly graduate with a 3.2 or a 3.4 GPA, granted both are good GPAs. But as you start looking into schools, you'll know that 3.2 and 3.4 will make a difference and do look different paper. At this very moment in your life, you should really focus on your GPA and try to graduate with as high of a number as possible. Let life take you where you should be later on in life.

An add-on to your question 4: know that most internships are not considered a full time job with b-school.

5. I think you're going to have to make this ultimate decision yourself as this is how you'll be living your life. Whatever it is that you do, just make sure you do your best at it and you're enjoying it. Again, I know nothing about MSRE, so I can't comment on it. But for bschool application, you'll want to convince the adcoms that you really gained something from your full time job before you applied, and the way to really gain something profound from your job is by at least liking what you do. If MSRE is something that peaks your interest and can help you get a job afterwards, by all means, you should go for it. But if your intentions are to get the MSRE, so it looks better on paper for your b-school application, you're in it for the wrong reason.

Anyway, I hope I at least shed some light in your perspective and hopefully you'll be able to make the judgment call somehow.
Re: Looking for advice and insight   [#permalink] 21 Jul 2010, 17:42
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