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Switching into Business from Science

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Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 09:50
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I went into college majoring in Biology with the aspiration to one day go to medical school and become a physician. Nearing the end of my 3rd year in college, I was introduced to the world of finance by my friend via discussion about the stock market. From then on, I began reading up on the economy and the business world. What happened was I have a change of heart and I find the field of business extremely attractive and exciting, but my degree is making it difficult for me. With a degree in biology and zero work experience, it is extremely difficult for me to find a job in this current market. I know most MBA students work for a few years before applying but I don't know how I am going to land on a job that can make me "shine" on MBA application. The job opportunities that are available to me right now is probably entry-level jobs that even high school students qualify for. What do I do? Swallow my pride and start from absolute bottom? Or are there better options that I do not know of since this is all relatively new to me. Thanks!
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 10:09
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hey there buddy, I know this process can be quite daunting for those who don't have a business degree (or engineering). Let me assure you that a business school looks for a very well rounded population to fill its class up, so don't worry if you have no business background. First off, you'll have to find a job (preferably a corporate job). It matters less when it comes to the actual learning of the job than the job title. When you speak of entry-level jobs, you have to understand that most corporate jobs require you to have a college degree. Now whether or not a high school grad can perform the job is irrelevant, because the nature of the beast is that a high school grad will not be able to get into the company in the first place. Even if you work at an investment banking firm after you graduate from college, you're still not going to be making 100 million dollar decision that the senior executives make. You'll be sitting in front of a computer, analyzing data, put it in an excel sheet, and hand it off to a more senior person. This certainly also sounds like something a high school grad can do, but again, going back to the point that a high school grad is not going to make it into the firm in the first place simply because he/she doesn't have a college degree. I hope that makes some sense to you.

What you need to do now is try to figure out what you want to do post-MBA. Why do you want an MBA? One misconception is that MBA is this golden ticket that will get you millions of dollars, but it's not. Most MBA applicants know exactly why they want this degree and why they want it now. Granted you're not looking until a few years later, you should think about why you need an MBA to achieve your goal, whichever that is. However, the absolutely most important thing for you to do now is to land a gig. It doesn't matter what you do, but what you can achieve and bring to the company. You can be a researcher (seeing how you graduated with a Biology degree) at a pharmaceutical company and that can help you achieve your MBA dream later on. Craiglist has a ton of jobs listed, and of course, not all are suitable, but from time to time you'll be able to see an opportunity.

Lastly, to put a bit more "life" in this response, rather than just a very generic answer that I've probably wrote - I graduated with a biology degree as well. I was lucky enough to find a job at a large pharma doing operations work and have now been accepted to UVA Darden and interviewed for Duke Fuqua. It can be done, trust me.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 10:48
Thanks for the response! I want to get an MBA for two reasons. One, due to my lack of business education, I want to be able to learn as much as I can about it to better myself at it. Two, I want to develop a network of connections by meeting more people and at the same time improve my social skills. I've been browsing Craigslist for opportunities that I may qualify for and I haven't found much but I can keep trying.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 11:04
Definitely keep trying. Also look at your school's career development office and see whether they'll be able to help you out. I'm much like yourself, who thought that I was going to head into research/medical school while I was still in college. Therefore, I didn't bother much with on-campus recruiting that school held (since I was only focused on post-graduate study in science). That definitely created a setback for me as I discovered that I don't want to enter science post-undergrad and that I didn't have a job lined up for me. So I know how it all feels like and while it's hard, just do your best in finding a job. Best of luck!!!
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 11:43
One common route is to take your science degree and turn it into a sales job for a pharma or other science related company. The caveat is that you'll need to have an inherent ability to sell stuff to people (i.e. upbeat, positive personality, persuasiveness, etc.).

The upside is if you do that for a few years, and have a good record doing it, it makes the MBA process (and recruiting for finance / business type jobs) that much easier. Having someone who can sell you a product is a trait that pretty much all industries look for, but especially ones like investment banking, etc.

My advice would be to keep searching and grind it out for a few years, because any of the schools that will accept you with 0 experience are not going to be worth your trouble.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 14:10
Thanks for the replies. I will definitely look into sales rep for pharma companies. I'm actually more interested in management/entrepreneurship as opposed to sales but it should be a good start!
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 14:40
You won't be able to have a "management" job straight out of school without any experience. The sales job is just to refine skills that are essential to being a good manager later down the road.

Entrepreneurship is a completely different track altogether, although even if you want to go down this path, you'll still need to be able to "pitch" your idea to venture capitalists in order to receive funding.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2011, 15:09
I see. I will keep that in mind! Thanks
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2011, 17:45
I've been looking up the top MBA programs just to see how it's like and I have a question. How important is the GPA when it comes to application strength? As a science major, my GPA was at the low end, 3.1, when I graduated.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2011, 18:18
The beauty of b-school is its admission process. Unlike med or law school, which admission is based a whole lot on GPA and standardized test, b-school admission looks at a vast number of reasons to admit you. A 3.1 or 3.2 is going to be a bit below average, but still within the published 80percentile range, such as Columbia and Booth.but what's also equally important will be a kickass GMAT score, as well as decent corporate experience. Add a few set of well-polished essays, you definitely have a chance to get in top schools. Just keep in mind that while your GPA is set, there are still so many different variables that you can control.

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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2011, 18:19
Thanks! Also I read that to even be competitive for a top business school, you should be working for a top company in its sector/industry. Is that true or just pure myth?
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2011, 22:08
Well, I think that's part myth part realism. The myth part is that no, I'm sure there are folks who can get in Harvard without working at a name-brand company, such as Goldman Sachs or McKinsey. However, it makes the AdCom's jobs a lot easier to be able to benchmark an applicant with his/her peers, and let's just face it - most top b-schools attract probably some sort of a name brand person in the first place. So all in all, I wouldn't worry too much about name, otherwise no entrepreneurs would be able to get in top b-schools. On the other hand, while you're job hunting, definitely consider the name brand to a certain extent. It'll be best if you find a name brand company to work for, have decent responsibility, and can articulate those skills learned a few years later.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2011, 22:54
I see. I will definitely put that into consideration. The fact that my background is in a science degree will be a setback of some sort but I guess I can work it out eventually.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 15:11
So I did a little research and the field of finance/banking is pretty interesting to me. I did a little job hunting and unsurprisingly I only qualify to be a teller. I have already applied to a few positions around my area with the intent of working my way up to a branch manager in a few years. I have my mind set on 2-3 years is that possible or am I naive?
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 15:26
It's definitely possible; however, what you're looking at is probably commercial banking. Commercial banking and investment banking are two really different types of banking and what you saw at the field of finance/banking via b-school connections are about investment banking. At this point though, any decent, corporate job is a good job for your fit. I'd say to try to get that job, and like you said, work your way up to manager if possible. This will position you very well for a top b-school, in which case you'll have a chance to get into the ibanking field. One thing you have to understand though - investment banking is a really tough field to hop in and the recruitment process is even more intense. Ibanking also includes 80+ hours as an analyst and you'll likely suffer in the personal relationship side. I'm not saying this to deter you from looking at going in, but for someone with a scientific background (such as you and me), I want to give you a firm understanding of what you'll be looking into several years down the line. If it's a field that you want to be in, by all means and give it your best. Anyway, I think we may be getting over ourselves right now - land that job first and work for a few years. Then look into any future career opportunities via b-schools. Good luck!!
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 15:52
I see. The business field is so broad that I'm not even sure which is the best fit for me. I'll probably figure all this out when I go to b-school one day. The thought of being my own boss and running my own firm as an entrepreneur is definitely there though.

For now like you said, one step at a time :) Do you happen to know the hierarchy in commercial banking though? Tellers --> ?? --> branch manager. I guess I'm trying to plot out a time line here. My dad had an acquaintance in Bank of America that told me she knew a guy who started out as a teller and within 5 years became the area supervisor. I can only assume this to be a rare case of genius and hardworker.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 15:57
How about doing something like Teach for America? Science teachers are usually in demand, and you could build up the kind of stories that look good on those admission essays. The tough part would be to make the connection between that and your future finance career, but I'm sure it can be done. Also, certain companies (consulting comes to mind) recruit Teach for America alumni, so you could use that to build a couple more years experience in a field that interests you before the MBA.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 16:37
n3xt wrote:
I see. The business field is so broad that I'm not even sure which is the best fit for me. I'll probably figure all this out when I go to b-school one day. The thought of being my own boss and running my own firm as an entrepreneur is definitely there though.

For now like you said, one step at a time :) Do you happen to know the hierarchy in commercial banking though? Tellers --> ?? --> branch manager. I guess I'm trying to plot out a time line here. My dad had an acquaintance in Bank of America that told me she knew a guy who started out as a teller and within 5 years became the area supervisor. I can only assume this to be a rare case of genius and hardworker.


I can't speak about the hierarchy of commercial banking as I've never worked in a bank before. But I'm sure that as long as you're there and you're getting promoted and gaining responsibilites/leadership opportunities, you will be in good shape.
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 01 Mar 2011, 18:46
bakfed wrote:
n3xt wrote:
I see. The business field is so broad that I'm not even sure which is the best fit for me. I'll probably figure all this out when I go to b-school one day. The thought of being my own boss and running my own firm as an entrepreneur is definitely there though.

For now like you said, one step at a time :) Do you happen to know the hierarchy in commercial banking though? Tellers --> ?? --> branch manager. I guess I'm trying to plot out a time line here. My dad had an acquaintance in Bank of America that told me she knew a guy who started out as a teller and within 5 years became the area supervisor. I can only assume this to be a rare case of genius and hardworker.


I can't speak about the hierarchy of commercial banking as I've never worked in a bank before. But I'm sure that as long as you're there and you're getting promoted and gaining responsibilites/leadership opportunities, you will be in good shape.


Thank you !
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Re: Switching into Business from Science [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2011, 16:07
So recently I discovered a program at my local university, a masters program geared towards medical product development management. It's especially enticing since it's geared towards science majors such as myself who are looking for a bridge towards the business management world. I am thinking about this since it will get more doors open and if things works out I may not even need MBA if I can land a job I am happy with. Of course, MBA is always there if I want to get higher or change of industry.
Re: Switching into Business from Science   [#permalink] 11 Mar 2011, 16:07
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