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Which school to join?

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Which school to join? [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2011, 12:59
Hi Alex,

I would like your valuable input on my unique situation. I am heading to Business School (not sure which one yet) this year and would like to know your thoughts before making a final decision. Currently, I work in a tech company in a project leader role. I am past thirty (have a family) and have received offers from two schools and have been waitlisted at Ross. For me, it’s going to be one of the most important decisions of my career, so seeking different viewpoints on this situation before making final decision.

Option 1 (Low risk approach): Matriculate at Johnson (Cornell) one year MBA program and move into product management role at a tech company or general management role. Considering Cornell is a strong school, I am inclined towards this option. I will be back in workforce in a year, so low risk concerning economic gyrations these years. Better work life balance.

Option 2 (High risk approach): Matriculate at University of Wisconsin (UW) ASAP program and move into investment management (buy-side) role at an investment firm. As per UW, ASAP program has a history of placing almost all of its students to investment management (mostly buy-side). I love investing, so thought why not pursue it as a career and UW ASAP program is rated as one of the better programs in the country and would help me get a foot into investment management field. If economy stays strong when I graduate in 2013, then it would be more monetary rewarding career path. I am not sure how the work life balance would be, but heard it’s better than investment banking.

Overall UW is not as reputed as Cornell, but for investment management it’s a decent school or I would put it this way: it’s not easy to break into investment management field from Cornell if I am enrolled into one year program. UW boasts that students in ASAP program manage largest student run fund (around $62 million) in the country.

What do you think: which route makes more sense? Although I have researched about the IM field, if you have any input on salary, jobs, hours, and work culture etc in IM firms, then please feel free to share your insights. I would appreciate your suggestions, considering I can't reverse the decision for the rest of my life.

Thanks.
- sp
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Re: Which school to join? [#permalink] New post 09 Mar 2011, 16:15
This is entirely a personal decision: Coke or Pepsi? Do you cheer for the Lakers or Celtics?

It's the kind of thing where the more you analyze, the more indecisive you will be. Trust your gut on this one. Every person in your shoes will choose differently, and will have their own personal reasons for doing so.

It's really a matter of your own risk appetite. If you were to ask someone who races motorcycles, goes to Vegas at the last minute on a weekend bender (without telling the wife), and has started a venture capital firm in Vietnam (and contracting malaria in the process), chances are he would tell you "f*ck it, grow some balls and take the risk."

Conversely, if you were to ask a tax accountant who double checks his grocery receipt to make sure the computer accurately calculated the taxes (and would complain if it was 10c off), then he'd tell "don't take the risk man, you never know, safety first!"

This is a decision only you can make, and anyone giving you advice is only projecting their own risk appetite, which really has little to do with your own.

Also, it's not going to be the most important decision of your career, unless you assume your career is going to be on a linear cruise control that is only a direct consequence of your decision to go to one b-school vs another. Trust me, it won't work out that way, no matter who you are. Who you are and what you do in your 30s and 40s will have little bearing on what you felt like in your 20s. It's not a big deal.
_________________

Alex Chu
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Re: Which school to join? [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2011, 07:08
Thanks Alex! As always very practical advice. You are right; it's a personal decision and the more I think the more I find myself entangled with lots of pros and cons and what if scenarios. Your analogies are hilarious. Have your heard about UW ASAP program? Any thoughts on the program as compared to other top schools.

Thanks.
Re: Which school to join?   [#permalink] 10 Mar 2011, 07:08
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