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Some hangups about applying to business school, please help.

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Some hangups about applying to business school, please help. [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 03:10
I've been thinking about applying to business school but have a few hangups that I hope someone can shed light on.

A little bit of my background: I'm a financial journalist in my mid-20s, with 5 years of work experience by the time I matriculate next year (if I do), 3 of which in financial reporting. Before that I was covering the enterprise technology sector, which is nominally business journalism.

My motivation for getting the mba (with a concentration in finance) is two fold. I want to get a better theoratical grounding than the backdoor mba style that business writing gives me, and I'm also looking at a career switch into corporate finance. My short term, post-MBA goal (with a concentration in finance), is to be a financial analyst at a large conglomerate. In the long run, I'll like to move on to strategy and business development work, focusing on China.

My undergraduate majors are in journalism and international studies, with a 3.47 GPA from a top-50 college in the US. My only exposure to business or economics was a statistics course, which I did badly in (I think 2.5). I'm very concerned about my lack of quantitative skills, as my transcript would suggest. How much would it be held against me?

Being a financial journalist connotes that I have a fair understanding of finance. But the honest answer is that I'm only familiar with the machinations of finance on a surface, and not the nuts and bolts of it all. That bothers me, and I'm already taking some short courses on finance and accounting. But the bigger picture is that I'm not a dunce at finance and numbers. I may not be a quant, but I can appreciate finance and how to use it.

One of my biggest worries is that my work experience doesn't fit what I want to do, aside from helping run the family business when I was much younger. As a journalist, I'm a lone ranger who doesn't have much leadership to speak of. And neither do I have hands on management experience (unless you consider managing my interviewees and making them spill corporate secrets). How will these things act against me?

What's going for me is my experience in journalism. Having done this for 5 years means I can write at the drop of a hat, work tireless when I need to, am extremely competitive when it comes to doing a good job, have very strong instincts (very good at smelling out liars), very good at looking at big picture and making analytical calls, and quite funnily am pretty good at socializing and networking.

I also like to think I've got a pretty diverse background. Born and raised in Singapore, educated in the US, and worked overseas in Hong Kong for 2 years and counting. I speak 3 languages fluently, Mandarin being one of them, which puts me in good stead to work in China.

I intend to take my MBA part time while working, so my schools are in Hong Kong. My top choice is HKUST, followed by CUHK and HKU. Does anyone know how my kind of background will fare with Adcoms?

On another note, I'm also looking at the MFin at those schools, because it gives a direct route into finance, but I'm not sure I can handle all the quant and number crunching. How intensive is it exactly?
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Re: Some hangups about applying to business school, please help. [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 04:54
I'll try to answer as much as I can.

1) I was a psych major in college. I had AP Calc credit from high school, but the only math course I took was a Psychology Statistics course and the only business course I took was an International Economics class. The best way to show that you have the quant skills to succeed in b-school is to do well on the GMAT. If you do well, I don't know how much you have to worry about your transcript since it was 5 years ago and your overall GPA was good. Also, the fact that you are a financial journalist means you must have SOME understanding in the field. If you are still concerned you could take some econ courses at a local college or online. However, if you do well on the GMAT, I wouldn't worry about that.

2) While it is nice to have work experience that lines up with your future goals, it is not always the case. Alot of people have experience in the IT field but want to switch to something like IB. Career-switching is a quite popular reason for going to b-school.

3) As far as the leadership experience goes. You'll have to find a way to effectively communicate the responsibilities you had.

4) From what I've read, MFs involve significantly more quant than MBAs.
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Re: Some hangups about applying to business school, please help. [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 13:04
Regarding quant experience, I'm a sociology major with only a statistics for non-majors class. I got 89%-tile (I think) on my GMAT. Never taken calculus in my life. Never taken any business courses. My transcript reads: sociology of alternative sexualities, the culture of prisons, brain mind & behavior, etc. NO QUANT. NO Business Courses.

I had the same quant-complex as you. I'd even signed up for an online calculus course. And then Kellogg called. I dropped the class.

HOWEVER, had I chosen to go to Wharton, Duke, or Berkeley, I would have had to complete that Calc course prior to matriculation.
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Re: Some hangups about applying to business school, please help. [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 18:21
Already replied to your PM...

A lot of people switch careers using the MBA. In the company I work at now, there is one guy who is doing his MBA part time (McGill in Tokyo), and he's switched to IB. He hasn't completed the PT course yet, but succesfully landed the job as an Associate. Before that, he was a Mechanical Engineer.
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Re: Some hangups about applying to business school, please help. [#permalink] New post 28 May 2008, 20:56
Thanks for all the advice here, especially to Togafoot. This is a very intimidating process (as I'm sure most people can appreciate), and the help here has answered some of my most nagging questions.
Re: Some hangups about applying to business school, please help.   [#permalink] 28 May 2008, 20:56
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Some hangups about applying to business school, please help.

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