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Need advice on schools..

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New post 19 May 2011, 13:49
Hi,

I scored 660 (41 math, 40 verb) on my first attempt at the GMAT yesterday with 1 month prep. Pretty confident I can get it up to 700+ by next month because both my prep test scores were in the low to mid 700s.
So given a GMAT score of 700+, would I be competitive for any top tier schools? (I'm more attracted to the accelerated programs such as Insead, Columbia J-intake etc)
My profile is:
- 26 y/o East Asian female
- Undergrad GPA of B- from NZ Uni (which is around 2.7 converted - low, I know - could a high GMAT compensate for this?), double majored in int'l business & marketing, pre-tertiary education completed in Aus and NZ
- Moved back to home country to work: 2 years sellside equity research at a leading local brokerage, 1 year buyside research/portfolio management at a local investment manager, 1.5 years inhouse M&A (global and domestic deals) at the country's 3rd largest conglomerate. Does this work exp look scattered? To be totally honest I was affected by the crisis while at the investment manager.. my team managed some funds of hedge funds (Madoff) and Lehman backed derivatives..ouch
- Fluent in English and native tongue, conversational Japanese (would be a short conversation though..), beginner Chinese
- Passed CFA level 1, sitting FRM part 1 this year

After graduating, I would like to work in early stage private equity or venture cap, preferably in HK or Singapore. I am quitting my job soon to go on a language exchange to learn Mandarin for a couple of months. I'm guessing that this could also negatively affect my profile - is there any way that I can make up for being unemployed when submitting applications?

And if my profile doesn't look competitive for the top tier schools, which schools should I consider?

Thanks,
TK
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New post 19 May 2011, 14:34
To be frank, your job is a bit scattered that it's actually raising some red flags. Quitting your job to go learn Chinese at an exchange program doesn't make it any better; in fact, it probably will look very negative on your application. Is learning chinese more important to you, value-wise, than attending a top b-school? If so, you should do it. If not, really re-consider your options. AdComs will question your priorities and doubt your ability to stick through something, especially with such a scattered work experience. And there's really no way to "make up" for the unemployment as you go through the application process.

With a 700+ GMAT, I think you'll still find it hard to make entrance to Columbia J-term, and honestly, given your goals I'm not sure if Columbia is your best bet here. For you to say that you want to work in Asia post-MBA raises concerns for your reasons to attend a US b-school. INSEAD values international experience and you sure have some good stories to tell. But again, I don't know if the value of going to INSEAD is really that significant given your post-MBA goals. I'd highly recommend you to look at schools in Asian countries, such as HKUST, which has a huge name-brand in Hong Kong (as it should), which would fit your goal a lot better than Columbia would.

All in all, if you're gearing up for US b-schools, I think it'll be easier for you to look at the top 10-20 schools than the top 10 b-schools. While you certainly may have a shot at the top 10, it seems to me that your good spots are within the 10-20 range.
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New post 19 May 2011, 16:00
Bakfed,
Thank you for your response.

Actually, I have been planning the language exchange longer than I have been thinking about b schools because I have found that HK recruiters are placing increasing importance on Mandarin language capabilities. Have been taking Mandarin lessons for a couple of months but many people have told me the only way to learn in a short span of time is to immerse yourself completely, i.e. go to China.

I mentioned Columbia because it was the only accelerated US program that I know of and Insead because two of my former colleagues went to Insead (S'pore campus). I don't think I specifically said US schools but those are the names that I am most familiar with as many of my former and current colleagues/bosses and acquaintances are US grad school/MBA grads - NYU, Darden, Purdue, Michigan, CMU, Cornell to name few. I work in an Asian country where US schools are overrepresented and I don't know many Asian MBA grads except for those from b schools in my country and a colleague from CEIBs (another program I am going to look into), so I apologize if the schools I mentioned are not suitable in my case.
Again, I am very new to this and am just looking to grasp a rough idea of how to manage my expecations.
Reading your post, it seems HKUST would be a much better choice to consider. I was aware that they have an excellent undergrad reputation, esp in finance, but wasn't aware of their MBA progam. Thanks for the information. Are there any other Asian programs that you recommend?
I have been looking at the rankings of the US 10~20 too, thanks. I read that Emory also has an accelerated program - would that be a possible fit for me?

Thank you for your help.
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New post 19 May 2011, 20:04
I think in terms of asian business schools, you'll be better off talking directly with an admission consultant who would know a much bigger repertoire of schools than I do. But as a whole, since you're starting to look into business schools, one question that any school would ask you is, why MBA? You'll learn as you go on the journey in getting into a business school as to why you think you'll need an MBA. One reason you might say is that you want to advance your career. Then the next question that's going to follow by others to you would be, how do you think you'll advance your career? Most of the time, PE and VC are a very well-guarded group of people. What edge would you gain by going to, say, Emory to get your MBA that will help accelerate your desire to enter such a well-guarded group? This is something that you'll discover for yourself and trust me, through time, you'll understand where you need to reach. Talk to your friends who went to bschools and ask what they thought about it. Did those who went to a US b-school but now working in Asia thought the schooling was worth it? Was the networking there when he or she wanted to find a job in Asia? These are all questions you'd have to consider and again, you'll find out as you discover more about what business school is all about.
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New post 20 May 2011, 04:19
bakfed wrote:
I think in terms of asian business schools, you'll be better off talking directly with an admission consultant who would know a much bigger repertoire of schools than I do. But as a whole, since you're starting to look into business schools, one question that any school would ask you is, why MBA? You'll learn as you go on the journey in getting into a business school as to why you think you'll need an MBA. One reason you might say is that you want to advance your career. Then the next question that's going to follow by others to you would be, how do you think you'll advance your career? Most of the time, PE and VC are a very well-guarded group of people. What edge would you gain by going to, say, Emory to get your MBA that will help accelerate your desire to enter such a well-guarded group? This is something that you'll discover for yourself and trust me, through time, you'll understand where you need to reach. Talk to your friends who went to bschools and ask what they thought about it. Did those who went to a US b-school but now working in Asia thought the schooling was worth it? Was the networking there when he or she wanted to find a job in Asia? These are all questions you'd have to consider and again, you'll find out as you discover more about what business school is all about.


You're right - The Why MBA questions should be the most basic, yet it is really difficult for me to answer. I have been talking to people in PE/VC and some acquaintances that have overseas MBAs. Getting conflicted views, so I guess I will have to take everything into account and contemplate thoroughly.
Thanks alot for your advice so far.
Re: Need advice on schools.. &nbs [#permalink] 20 May 2011, 04:19
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