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Non-profit deputy director to elite MBA?

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New post 16 Feb 2017, 14:52
I'm 27, the deputy director (2nd in command) of an international non-profit in DC.

The org is relatively small (budget is only a few million) but has generated some prestige (e.g. White House invite and well-known donors). It is relevant to b-school because our mission involves business.

As much as I love my job, I don't make enough money to support my family in the long run. (I have a wife, baby, and mortgage.)

I love reading about and discussing strategy, finance, and tech. Tons of post-MBA jobs appeal to me, but I think I'd choose corporate finance; the lifestyle is better than consulting or banking.

I went to a top-tier public school (e.g. UVA, UNC, UCLA) with a 3.4 GPA, but Cs in a couple econ classes.

Outside of work, I'm on the board of a startup non-profit. Nobody has heard of it.

Questions:
1) If I can score 700+ on the GMAT, do I have a chance at getting into Harvard, MIT, Booth, Columbia, Kellog, Wharton, etc?

2) Am I nuts to be considering a full-time MBA with a baby (or 2 by then)? We don't have financial support from family, and my wife is not a big earner, so it will involve a huge amount of debt. Childcare is at least an extra $1k per kid per month.

3) We own a home near DC. With great friends and lots of work we've put into our house, we'd love to keep the place and stay in DC long term. Should I forget the elite programs and just aim for Georgetown, Maryland, and GW?

(Preferring an elite school has nothing to do with ego. I've witnessed that people saying they have a Harvard MBA automatically opens doors.)

4) Am I too settled? So I should just try to find a way to make it work in the non-profit industry? As you can tell, I set up my life with an assumption of no more school. But I am fast realizing that life is getting unaffordable.

Thank you for your help!
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I think you have the type of profile top MBAs like so if you can land in the +720 range you will be in play. Your GPA is a bit lower than the 3.6 avg at some of the top programs you mentioned, so your performance on the GMAT will be very important if you aspire that high.

Business school is expensive so you will certainly have to figure how much of a lifestyle change you really are looking for, also make sure this is a joint decision with your wife as she will probably end up making tons of sacrifices as well. The top schools will make a much greater impact on your career than the local schools but keep in mind if you are planning to return back to DC the type of industries that are most common in the area. It will be different than financial hubs like NYC.
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Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts and concerns around pursuing an MBA. I think a lot of folks don’t give enough attention (or if they do, it’s privately) to the points you raised so bravo :) Before you get hung up on the specifics of which schools you could get into, I would urge you to think about why you’re pursuing an MBA in the first place. An MBA is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor so it needs to be part of the journey towards something you want vs. simply moving away from something you don’t want (i.e. your current job). Getting an MBA should be a strategic decision, not a transactional one. So getting really honest with yourself, doing some research, speaking with mentors/friends/your wife, etc. about what you want to do with your career moving forward is a great place to start. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are you passionate about? How do you see yourself making an impact? Then you can assess if an MBA makes sense to get you there better and faster. While your motivations may be driven by a higher paycheck it needs to be about more than just money (for the purposes of your applications, at the very least).

Once (and if) you’ve decided that an MBA is right for you and why, you're absolutely right to bring your personal life into consideration. It’s not “crazy” to enroll in a full-time MBA program as a parent but it will require sacrifice and discipline. (Every top MBA program will include a handful of mothers and fathers; I went to Columbia Business School and one of my classmates was the father of newborn twins, for example, so it’s doable but he would never say it was easy.) Ultimately, that’s a decision that only you and your family can make based on what's right for y'all.

So getting down to the specific schools – there’s a lot to like about your profile. Your non-profit background and senior leadership position will definitely help you differentiate yourself. Your undergrad GPA is slightly below average for the top schools but with a great GMAT score, you could help mitigate that. What’s going to be most important, though, will be your story – who you are, what you achieved in your career so far, why you’re pursuing an MBA, exactly how you will use your MBA to do great things in the future, etc. With some killer essays, you very well could have a shot at the top programs. Now whether you aim for the top programs or keep your focus local to the DC area will depend on what you and your family decide is best on a personal level and what you’re hoping to do after graduation professionally. If your target industry/companies recruit actively at Georgetown, for example, and you’re committed to staying near home post-MBA, then Georgetown seems like a great fit. On the other hand, if you want to maintain the optionality of the top 10 schools and you and your family are open to moving, then you should give them a shot.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful in giving you some more things to consider and think about. I realize I didn’t give you any black & white answers but the decision to pursue an MBA and where is anything but formulaic. Best of luck!

Kindly,
Melody
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New post 17 Feb 2017, 11:26
VantagePointMelody wrote:
Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts and concerns around pursuing an MBA. I think a lot of folks don’t give enough attention (or if they do, it’s privately) to the points you raised so bravo :) Before you get hung up on the specifics of which schools you could get into, I would urge you to think about why you’re pursuing an MBA in the first place. An MBA is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor so it needs to be part of the journey towards something you want vs. simply moving away from something you don’t want (i.e. your current job). Getting an MBA should be a strategic decision, not a transactional one. So getting really honest with yourself, doing some research, speaking with mentors/friends/your wife, etc. about what you want to do with your career moving forward is a great place to start. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are you passionate about? How do you see yourself making an impact? Then you can assess if an MBA makes sense to get you there better and faster. While your motivations may be driven by a higher paycheck it needs to be about more than just money (for the purposes of your applications, at the very least).

Once (and if) you’ve decided that an MBA is right for you and why, you're absolutely right to bring your personal life into consideration. It’s not “crazy” to enroll in a full-time MBA program as a parent but it will require sacrifice and discipline. (Every top MBA program will include a handful of mothers and fathers; I went to Columbia Business School and one of my classmates was the father of newborn twins, for example, so it’s doable but he would never say it was easy.) Ultimately, that’s a decision that only you and your family can make based on what's right for y'all.

So getting down to the specific schools – there’s a lot to like about your profile. Your non-profit background and senior leadership position will definitely help you differentiate yourself. Your undergrad GPA is slightly below average for the top schools but with a great GMAT score, you could help mitigate that. What’s going to be most important, though, will be your story – who you are, what you achieved in your career so far, why you’re pursuing an MBA, exactly how you will use your MBA to do great things in the future, etc. With some killer essays, you very well could have a shot at the top programs. Now whether you aim for the top programs or keep your focus local to the DC area will depend on what you and your family decide is best on a personal level and what you’re hoping to do after graduation professionally. If your target industry/companies recruit actively at Georgetown, for example, and you’re committed to staying near home post-MBA, then Georgetown seems like a great fit. On the other hand, if you want to maintain the optionality of the top 10 schools and you and your family are open to moving, then you should give them a shot.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful in giving you some more things to consider and think about. I realize I didn’t give you any black & white answers but the decision to pursue an MBA and where is anything but formulaic. Best of luck!

Kindly,
Melody


Thanks so much Melody.

This isn't just a whim or a desire to make more money.

I interact with friends in consulting and banking all the time and think, "I am a lot more interested in the nitty gritty of your job than you are." Same with higher-level business folks I speak to, who I think appreciate how well-versed I am in what they do, but would never hire me because they think of me as a "philanthropy guy". I love reading the financial press. So I'll really enjoy it.

I'm not really sure what I want to do post-MBA. As much as consulting and banking seem interesting, I couldn't justify the hours or the travel. So an internal strategy or corporate finance role sounds good. Or, with an MBA, I could call friends in vc and maybe they'd see me as someone worth hiring or placing in one of their companies.

My preference is definitely to be in DC after school.

Even given that I'm not gunning for Goldman or McKinsey, I still think an elite program tops Georgetown and makes it worthwhile to move. But I'm clueless about how it impacts recruitment. Maybe you know?

Take a DC-based company like Capital One or Marriott. They probably have more Georgetown MBAs than Wharton MBAs. I'm still betting that my chances of getting a job and rising the ranks -- or switching to a different firm -- are better if I went to Wharton. Do you agree?
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New post 17 Feb 2017, 14:12
Yes coming out of a top MBA program like Wharton or Kellogg would open up the amount of options for you so you could still receive placement in DC. These schools also have really strong alumni networks which will aid you even if these companies may not be on campus. They will still post jobs through the career center in addition to your own off-campus search. I would focus on getting into the best school possible but including a strong local option that you be excited to attend like Georgetown to round out your options
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New post 17 Feb 2017, 16:06
Paylake wrote:
VantagePointMelody wrote:
Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts and concerns around pursuing an MBA. I think a lot of folks don’t give enough attention (or if they do, it’s privately) to the points you raised so bravo :) Before you get hung up on the specifics of which schools you could get into, I would urge you to think about why you’re pursuing an MBA in the first place. An MBA is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor so it needs to be part of the journey towards something you want vs. simply moving away from something you don’t want (i.e. your current job). Getting an MBA should be a strategic decision, not a transactional one. So getting really honest with yourself, doing some research, speaking with mentors/friends/your wife, etc. about what you want to do with your career moving forward is a great place to start. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are you passionate about? How do you see yourself making an impact? Then you can assess if an MBA makes sense to get you there better and faster. While your motivations may be driven by a higher paycheck it needs to be about more than just money (for the purposes of your applications, at the very least).

Once (and if) you’ve decided that an MBA is right for you and why, you're absolutely right to bring your personal life into consideration. It’s not “crazy” to enroll in a full-time MBA program as a parent but it will require sacrifice and discipline. (Every top MBA program will include a handful of mothers and fathers; I went to Columbia Business School and one of my classmates was the father of newborn twins, for example, so it’s doable but he would never say it was easy.) Ultimately, that’s a decision that only you and your family can make based on what's right for y'all.

So getting down to the specific schools – there’s a lot to like about your profile. Your non-profit background and senior leadership position will definitely help you differentiate yourself. Your undergrad GPA is slightly below average for the top schools but with a great GMAT score, you could help mitigate that. What’s going to be most important, though, will be your story – who you are, what you achieved in your career so far, why you’re pursuing an MBA, exactly how you will use your MBA to do great things in the future, etc. With some killer essays, you very well could have a shot at the top programs. Now whether you aim for the top programs or keep your focus local to the DC area will depend on what you and your family decide is best on a personal level and what you’re hoping to do after graduation professionally. If your target industry/companies recruit actively at Georgetown, for example, and you’re committed to staying near home post-MBA, then Georgetown seems like a great fit. On the other hand, if you want to maintain the optionality of the top 10 schools and you and your family are open to moving, then you should give them a shot.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful in giving you some more things to consider and think about. I realize I didn’t give you any black & white answers but the decision to pursue an MBA and where is anything but formulaic. Best of luck!

Kindly,
Melody


Thanks so much Melody.

This isn't just a whim or a desire to make more money.

I interact with friends in consulting and banking all the time and think, "I am a lot more interested in the nitty gritty of your job than you are." Same with higher-level business folks I speak to, who I think appreciate how well-versed I am in what they do, but would never hire me because they think of me as a "philanthropy guy". I love reading the financial press. So I'll really enjoy it.

I'm not really sure what I want to do post-MBA. As much as consulting and banking seem interesting, I couldn't justify the hours or the travel. So an internal strategy or corporate finance role sounds good. Or, with an MBA, I could call friends in vc and maybe they'd see me as someone worth hiring or placing in one of their companies.

My preference is definitely to be in DC after school.

Even given that I'm not gunning for Goldman or McKinsey, I still think an elite program tops Georgetown and makes it worthwhile to move. But I'm clueless about how it impacts recruitment. Maybe you know?

Take a DC-based company like Capital One or Marriott. They probably have more Georgetown MBAs than Wharton MBAs. I'm still betting that my chances of getting a job and rising the ranks -- or switching to a different firm -- are better if I went to Wharton. Do you agree?


You're welcome!! It sounds like at this stage, you're considering a number of good options for what you might want to do post-MBA and next steps would be to start going deeper in your research and truly understanding what those jobs entail, the pros and cons, how they align with your skillset, etc. Although it's OK not to know yet exactly what you want to do after business school (a lot of folks don't know at this stage of the game), you will want to get a lot more specific in terms of the "what" and "why" by the time you start writing your essays. (For what it's worth, that's one of the key aspects of the application process that I coach and guide my clients through).

Re: your question about how recruitment differs between top 10 and non-top 10, you'll generally have a greater diversity of options as well as greater access to name brand firms with a top 10 program. You can still focus your recruiting on job opportunities in the DC area even if you don't go to school there. But you never know, you may find yourself attracted to a whole new world of options. (I think every MBA student finds him-or-herself considering options they had never thought of before during recruiting.)

To your next point, yes, I suspect you're right that you will have a greater chance at getting an offer at a company like Capital One or Marriott with a Wharton MBA vs. Georgetown, all things being equal. However, that's where the advantage would end (bear with me!) Once you're there, your performance will have to carry you. The fact that you have a Wharton vs. Georgetown MBA won't earn you faster promotions or higher pay. Where the greater value of the Wharton MBA will really come into play is if/when you're looking to change jobs. That's when you'll really leverage to strength and breadth of the alumni network. And that's a powerful tool.

Does that provide a bit more clarity?

Best,
Melody
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New post 19 Feb 2017, 05:56
VantagePointMelody wrote:
Paylake wrote:
VantagePointMelody wrote:
Hi there,

Thanks for sharing your candid thoughts and concerns around pursuing an MBA. I think a lot of folks don’t give enough attention (or if they do, it’s privately) to the points you raised so bravo :) Before you get hung up on the specifics of which schools you could get into, I would urge you to think about why you’re pursuing an MBA in the first place. An MBA is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor so it needs to be part of the journey towards something you want vs. simply moving away from something you don’t want (i.e. your current job). Getting an MBA should be a strategic decision, not a transactional one. So getting really honest with yourself, doing some research, speaking with mentors/friends/your wife, etc. about what you want to do with your career moving forward is a great place to start. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What are you passionate about? How do you see yourself making an impact? Then you can assess if an MBA makes sense to get you there better and faster. While your motivations may be driven by a higher paycheck it needs to be about more than just money (for the purposes of your applications, at the very least).

Once (and if) you’ve decided that an MBA is right for you and why, you're absolutely right to bring your personal life into consideration. It’s not “crazy” to enroll in a full-time MBA program as a parent but it will require sacrifice and discipline. (Every top MBA program will include a handful of mothers and fathers; I went to Columbia Business School and one of my classmates was the father of newborn twins, for example, so it’s doable but he would never say it was easy.) Ultimately, that’s a decision that only you and your family can make based on what's right for y'all.

So getting down to the specific schools – there’s a lot to like about your profile. Your non-profit background and senior leadership position will definitely help you differentiate yourself. Your undergrad GPA is slightly below average for the top schools but with a great GMAT score, you could help mitigate that. What’s going to be most important, though, will be your story – who you are, what you achieved in your career so far, why you’re pursuing an MBA, exactly how you will use your MBA to do great things in the future, etc. With some killer essays, you very well could have a shot at the top programs. Now whether you aim for the top programs or keep your focus local to the DC area will depend on what you and your family decide is best on a personal level and what you’re hoping to do after graduation professionally. If your target industry/companies recruit actively at Georgetown, for example, and you’re committed to staying near home post-MBA, then Georgetown seems like a great fit. On the other hand, if you want to maintain the optionality of the top 10 schools and you and your family are open to moving, then you should give them a shot.

Anyways, I hope this was helpful in giving you some more things to consider and think about. I realize I didn’t give you any black & white answers but the decision to pursue an MBA and where is anything but formulaic. Best of luck!

Kindly,
Melody


Thanks so much Melody.

This isn't just a whim or a desire to make more money.

I interact with friends in consulting and banking all the time and think, "I am a lot more interested in the nitty gritty of your job than you are." Same with higher-level business folks I speak to, who I think appreciate how well-versed I am in what they do, but would never hire me because they think of me as a "philanthropy guy". I love reading the financial press. So I'll really enjoy it.

I'm not really sure what I want to do post-MBA. As much as consulting and banking seem interesting, I couldn't justify the hours or the travel. So an internal strategy or corporate finance role sounds good. Or, with an MBA, I could call friends in vc and maybe they'd see me as someone worth hiring or placing in one of their companies.

My preference is definitely to be in DC after school.

Even given that I'm not gunning for Goldman or McKinsey, I still think an elite program tops Georgetown and makes it worthwhile to move. But I'm clueless about how it impacts recruitment. Maybe you know?

Take a DC-based company like Capital One or Marriott. They probably have more Georgetown MBAs than Wharton MBAs. I'm still betting that my chances of getting a job and rising the ranks -- or switching to a different firm -- are better if I went to Wharton. Do you agree?


You're welcome!! It sounds like at this stage, you're considering a number of good options for what you might want to do post-MBA and next steps would be to start going deeper in your research and truly understanding what those jobs entail, the pros and cons, how they align with your skillset, etc. Although it's OK not to know yet exactly what you want to do after business school (a lot of folks don't know at this stage of the game), you will want to get a lot more specific in terms of the "what" and "why" by the time you start writing your essays. (For what it's worth, that's one of the key aspects of the application process that I coach and guide my clients through).

Re: your question about how recruitment differs between top 10 and non-top 10, you'll generally have a greater diversity of options as well as greater access to name brand firms with a top 10 program. You can still focus your recruiting on job opportunities in the DC area even if you don't go to school there. But you never know, you may find yourself attracted to a whole new world of options. (I think every MBA student finds him-or-herself considering options they had never thought of before during recruiting.)

To your next point, yes, I suspect you're right that you will have a greater chance at getting an offer at a company like Capital One or Marriott with a Wharton MBA vs. Georgetown, all things being equal. However, that's where the advantage would end (bear with me!) Once you're there, your performance will have to carry you. The fact that you have a Wharton vs. Georgetown MBA won't earn you faster promotions or higher pay. Where the greater value of the Wharton MBA will really come into play is if/when you're looking to change jobs. That's when you'll really leverage to strength and breadth of the alumni network. And that's a powerful tool.

Does that provide a bit more clarity?

Best,
Melody


Yes! Great points, Melody. Thank you so much for taking the time to help. A few follow up questions if you are so kind:

1) When it comes to choosing a career path, are there some job paths that are available to folks who stay in their field but not for career switchers?
2) Is the admissions office looking for a diversity of career ambitions, so an essay about a less common career goal would help?
3) Ideally, my wife would find a job where I'm in school and we'd live together year-round. Then we'd move back to DC upon graduation. So to use Wharton as an example, that means I should do my internship in Philly then FT job hunt focused on DC. Is that a reasonable plan or will I be much better off spending my summer in DC?
4) Is there a GMAT level where I'd be competitive for a merit scholarship?
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New post 20 Feb 2017, 17:52
Hi there,

No problem! Here are my replies to your questions below! If you’d like to jump on a call and chat about all of this outside of the public forum, I’m happy to do so. You can email me directly (melody@vantagepointadmissions.com) or sign up for a free consultation.

1) Generally speaking, yes. While there are always exceptions, there are definitely some post-MBA roles that require relevant prior experience. VC/PE is one of those, for example. Larger companies and broader roles like management consulting, on the other hand, value diverse prior experiences and are much more open to career switchers.
2) Yes, the adcom is looking for diversity in every sense but I would advise against writing about a “unique” career goal just because you think it’s what they want to hear. In the end, authenticity always wins. If you’re worried that your goals are too generic, then including a more personal and specific explanation about why this path is right for you could be the way to go. It really depends on the situation, the applicant, etc.
3) Generally, you want to intern where you hope to work & live full-time since the objective (in most cases) is to convert to a full-time offer at the end of your summer internship. I don’t think that many folks stay in Philadelphia for their summer internships, to my knowledge. But again, that depends on the jobs you’re targeting.
4) Merit scholarships of a significant size are tough at the top schools. Definitely not impossible, but they’re not handed out like candy by any means. They are typically reserved for exceptional and unique candidates. For you, you may have an edge with your non-profit background so I would suggest looking into specific scholarships geared towards applicants with your background. You may qualify for need-based aid as well. I would really start doing your research on this starting now if it’s going to weigh on your final decision. So getting back to you question, there’s no hard & fast cut-off but if you’re looking for a general target, I would say 760+ at the top schools. Of course, that drops as you look to programs outside the top 10/15.

Best,
Melody
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Re: Non-profit deputy director to elite MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 21 Feb 2017, 14:24
Paylake wrote:
I'm 27, the deputy director (2nd in command) of an international non-profit in DC.
Hi Paylake! Thanks for reaching out! I will answer in blue along the way...
The org is relatively small (budget is only a few million) but has generated some prestige (e.g. White House invite and well-known donors). It is relevant to b-school because our mission involves business.

As much as I love my job, I don't make enough money to support my family in the long run. (I have a wife, baby, and mortgage.)

I love reading about and discussing strategy, finance, and tech. Tons of post-MBA jobs appeal to me, but I think I'd choose corporate finance; the lifestyle is better than consulting or banking.You will need to work on this story as the "i want to make more money and/or have a better lifestyle- while entirely reasonable- is not what you lead with in the MBA admissions process. Getting your "why" and "why MBA" down is a key part of being successful.

I went to a top-tier public school (e.g. UVA, UNC, UCLA) with a 3.4 GPA, but Cs in a couple econ classes. This makes the HBS, Stanford option a bit harder...

Outside of work, I'm on the board of a startup non-profit. Nobody has heard of it.That's ok- if you can explain what you do, and the impact- it will be impressive.

Questions:
1) If I can score 700+ on the GMAT, do I have a chance at getting into Harvard, MIT, Booth, Columbia, Kellog, Wharton, etc?With your GPA, it will take more like a 760 to pop. That being said, applying R1 will help as will also reaching down to some other great programs in the top 10.

2) Am I nuts to be considering a full-time MBA with a baby (or 2 by then)? We don't have financial support from family, and my wife is not a big earner, so it will involve a huge amount of debt. Childcare is at least an extra $1k per kid per month. A better deal may be to look to be a star in a top 20 program where you can get a scholarship. YOu can still be very successful in a top 20 ranked program and if you can get a scholarship at a slightly lower school, I still think in the long run you win...

3) We own a home near DC. With great friends and lots of work we've put into our house, we'd love to keep the place and stay in DC long term. Should I forget the elite programs and just aim for Georgetown, Maryland, and GW?I would at least look at scholarship options there...

(Preferring an elite school has nothing to do with ego. I've witnessed that people saying they have a Harvard MBA automatically opens doors.)

4) Am I too settled? So I should just try to find a way to make it work in the non-profit industry? As you can tell, I set up my life with an assumption of no more school. But I am fast realizing that life is getting unaffordable.

I would spend a bit more time on your "Why" and I also think a consultant could help you refine your story a bit more. For a free consult on how we could help you... look here: http://stratusadmissionscounseling.com/ ... b-visitor/
Thank you for your help!
And best of luck- remember there is more than one way to get somewhere- while HBS opens doors- so do many other MBA programs and you have to be a little clearer on what you want your door to look like and why before you can really unlock the door!
_________________

Donna | StratusMBACounselor | Stratus Admissions Counseling

Re: Non-profit deputy director to elite MBA?   [#permalink] 21 Feb 2017, 14:24
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