Archive for August, 2009

Northwestern JD-MBA Class of 2012 Profile

Northwestern recently announced the JD-MBA Class of 2012 profile. (Click here to see the official stats on Northwestern’s website) I wanted to take the opportunity to post the profile stats here and also mention a couple of observations I had on the program. I think this will serve as a good introduction, and will lead into profiling some of the individual incoming students in the program.

Admissions Statistics:
1. Applicants – 246
2. Admits – 36
3. Students – 28
4. Average GMAT – 724
5. Median GPA – 3.5
6. Avg. Work Experience – 5 years
7 . Women – 29%


  • Class size increased this year to 28 students. Historically, the program aim for 24 or 25 students, but this year we ended up with a larger class. I chatted with admissions, and turns out the difference in number is mostly a matter of yield and less a change in admissions strategy.
  • Applications also went up dramatically this year, increasing by about 50% to 246. It will be interesting to see if this is a temporary change based on the economy or a permanent one given that JD-MBA programs are continuing to gain momentum. I suspect and hope it’s more closely linked to the second, and I personally intend to be a strong advocate for Northwestern’s program and hope to see the numbers go up by another 50% over the next few years.
  • The median work experience of those accepted is 5 years. While many MBA programs are trending younger in terms of applicants, Kellogg and the JD-MBA are not. There are rarely any folks in the program with less than 3 years experience, and it’s much more common to see those with 4 and with 5.
  • Our program has 29% women, which is higher than other years for the program, but still a bit lower than our MBA-only counterpart programs, which are usually closer to 33% to 35%. With the 5 years average work experience and no signs of trending downward, I suspect the program is still trying to find a way to get more woman applicants to the program. I also suspect that JD-MBA students across all schools, where average age at entry is varied, still favors the male population.
  • Incoming Northwestern JD-MBA students collectively come from more than 20 different schools , of which a very large majority are considered the best programs in the world. This year, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Princeton each have more than one student in the class.

    Ultimately the class of 2012 is a sharp and really diverse class — in background, nationality, interests and ambitions. I believe that these differences are critical in an interdisciplinary JD-MBA program, which thrives by having folks with various perspectives, unique life experiences, and broad professional goals spanning both business and in law.


    Sunday, August 30th, 2009 Admissions 3 Comments

    Are You At A Recruiting Disadvantage Because of Summer Classes In The Northwestern JD-MBA Program

    Hey all, so I recently received a good question from a prospective Northwestern JD-MBA applicant.

    “I know that the Northwestern accelerated program requires you to be in law school for the first summer. Do you feel that puts you at a disadvantage with interning and securing a job post-school?”


    So, as an entering first year student, I’ll confess that I’m not an expert on all JD-MBA career paths, but I’m happy to give my opinion based on my research and based on talking to dozens of students and alumni of the program.

    So my first comment is that JD-MBAs rarely have issues during the recruiting season. Every summer and every year well before graduation, 100% of JD-MBAs are employed at top firms. While this year may prove to be a bit different due to the “odd” economic times, I suspect JD-MBAs at Northwestern will still do quite well.

    Here are a couple of statistics from this year’s summer.

    -19 out of 23 are working at law firms (all best of the best firms)
    – Most of those have spots at Cravath, Kirkland, and Skadden

    – 4 of 23 are working at businesses
    – Of those, 2 are doing consulting, 1 is at her family’s company, and 1 is doing investment banking

    But don’t let the numbers fool you, a pretty large number of people in the program are interested in business. From my conversations, it seems like the breakdown towards law is 1) slightly exaggerated due to the economy and 2) weighted towards law since not doing a legal internship precludes you from getting a law job after graduation, whereas you can always go back to business if you don’t like law during the summer. That said, the stats are not totally far off. 19 of 23 is 82% this year, though I’ve heard the usual is around 3/4.

    Upon graduation, the final split is usually closer to 50/50, and graduates generally go to premier law firms, top three consulting firms (M/B/B), investment banks, VC/PE, and other. The other category is usually pretty interesting and has included companies in media, sports, government (federal and state clerkships), non profits, real estate firms, and hedge funds. With options like these, I think it’s fair to say that there is no disadvantage at all to taking classes the first summer. I say enjoy the time in coursework, explore diverse career opportunities that you may not have otherwise thought about, and engage in topics you are interested in, whether it’s at the law school or at Kellogg, and whether it pays really well or not.

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    Saturday, August 29th, 2009 Uncategorized No Comments

    NBMBAA Scholar Award

    Hey all! I just found out today that I won one of the NBMBAA (National Black MBA Association) Scholarship Award. Basically, the NBMBAA scholarship program was established to assist M.B.A. students to succeed in business school and beyond by giving them a bit of tuition assistance as well as providing them with ongoing mentorship, networking opportunities, and career opportunities. To be considered, I had to submit an application this past spring, of which the essay carried the most weight. The application also included the typical items such as a resume, data form, and short answers. I chose to write my essay about the MBA admissions process and what schools can do to better recruit and retain black and minority candidates. I actually spent quite a bit of time on the essay, partially because I really wanted to win but also because the topic is of real interest to me.

    It’s definitely an honor to be selected to this competitive program, especially this year where money is limited and where NBMBAA told me during my final interview that only two applicants would be chosen. It’s also great because means that I’ve now won both the NBMBAA and the NSHMBA (National Hispanic) award, which is a huge honor. Click here for my post on NSHMBA. Finally, it’s a relief, because I really thought I had a mediocre interview a few weeks ago. The lesson learned here is that you should always fight through interviews, maintain composure, and never get discouraged, because you never know what the other person is thinking.

    In addition to the scholarship money, the scholarship package includes a one year membership to the organization, round trip airfare, hotel accommodations for two nights, and conference registration. The conference should be a lot of fun and great for networking. For all those who qualify, you should definitely consider applying for the NBMBAA scholars program in the future.

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    Wednesday, August 26th, 2009 Business School, Diversity 9 Comments

    First Day of Orientation

    I just finished my first day of orientation at the law school today. Today’s schedule was broken up into two parts. In the morning from 9am to 1pm, we went to the school to take care of a few administrative things, such as getting our bus passes, books, lockers, ID cards, Facebook photos, and free T-shirts. Pretty simple morning, especially considering I did a lot of this stuff last week at the Summer Pre-Law Program.

    At 1pm all of us went to the auditorium for the official orientation events. We began with the Official Ceremony led by the Dean Van Zandt, the Dean of the Law School. He is a really good public speaker and a pretty funny guy. I enjoyed his session. After that, we had a few more speaker sessions, some of which people thought were a bit long. The best session of the day was named “The First Day of Your Professional Lie in the Law” by professor Lupo. It was a lot more interactive than the others and he’s a really engaging speaker. The jury is still out as to how useful all of these sessions really were in terms of learning about the school, but for me I really enjoyed being able to meet lots of people. I’ll definitely be doing a lot more of that over the next few days and evenings.

    Of the people I’ve met so far, everyone seems to be really accomplished and interesting. For one, we have a 19 year old beginning the program, who graduated undergrad at 16. We also have quite a few older, more experienced students beginning the program. Many of these folks have worked in various industries, overseas, and in entrepreneurial roles. And we have a ton of interesting and highly successful JD-MBAs. Even though I am probably a bit biased, they definitely have some of the most impressive resumes, including a few business owners, private equity guys, hedge fund folks, consultants, non-profit managers, and government and legal services professionals. Stay tuned to my blog, as I plan to begin profiling my JD-MBA classmates shortly.

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    Monday, August 24th, 2009 Law School 1 Comment

    Summer Pre-Law Program and My Intro to the Case Method

    Ever since high school, I’ve preferred energizing teachers who were entertaining and got me to pay close attention for class. Unfortunately these teachers have sometimes been in the minority, even at Stanford, because many teachers focused more on research more than on their teaching styles. But the good news is that business school and law school are quite different. Both have some pretty unique teaching methods to keep students engaged and participating in class. Among others are the case method courses, learning team discussions, multimedia simulations, experiential learning courses, and interactive lectures. And king among these is the case method.

    The case method is a teaching approach that consists of presenting the students with a case putting them in the role of the decision-maker facing a problem. While some schools employ this more than others (for example Harvard Business School and The University of Virginia Darden), many schools do make use of it, and it’s hard to debate that the case method is best at keeping you attentive in class.

    In a case discussion, students are forced to constantly pay attention to what’s being said, to continually integrate everything as the class moves forward, to synthesize hours of reading the night before, and to think one-step ahead of the discussion. You do this all while being prepared to jump into the conversation and provide relevant, timely, and insightful comments. This is a complete 180-degree turn from my time at Stanford, where many of my classes were often about professors lecturing for the full class and dumping thousands of facts into our heads.

    Most people think the case method exists only in business school, but that’s not true at all. The case method, originally called the casebook method, has been around in law school longer than in business school. For a given class, a professor will assign several cases from the casebook to read, and the professor will ask students questions, pushing students to discuss legal rules and think critically about the ambiguous situations. As part of the experience, students discuss opposing viewpoints, and the professor will debate with students by asking and answering questions (i.e. Socratic Method). This is all done to stimulate thinking, empower students to come up with ideas, and illustrate concepts and theories.

    Just last week, I experienced this in my Summer Law Prep Program at Northwestern. The summer prep program is for incoming first year students who want to get a head start on law school before classes actually begin. The program received applications from most of the incoming Northwestern class, and they selected 30 or so participants. We spent the full day, from 9:00am to 4:30pm, taking classes, listening to panels, reading legal cases, and participating in case discussions. During the week we learned from various members of Northwestern Law’s faculty, met with current students, and visited attorneys at the sponsoring law firm based in Chicago. Just this past Wednesday, this law firm was gracious enough to host us at their offices and provide us with a nice meal and chat with us about working in the legal industry.

    For me, the program really helped illuminate what it really takes to do well in case discussions. I also noticed how the case discussion at the law school is different from the case discussions in business school. In law school, the discussions tend be a bit more focused than b-school discussions. Also, law students tend to focus on the details of a case, whereas MBAs are more interested in the broader implications. Additionally, in law school the cases are shorter, more technical, and care more about building consensus among differing opinions, whereas business school cases often extend for an entire class, are more cross-functional in nature, and value the individual perspectives.

    That said, the one similarity I found is that for the truly engaged participant, the case method can help to refine your professional leadership style. Think about it for a second. Just like working the real world, as a student you have to analyze a variety of difficult issues and engage in high-stakes discussions where the results that have complex economic and political effects. In preparation for the discussion before class, you have to uncover the issues at hand, develop supporting analysis, and come up with recommendations, all under time pressure and with limited information available.

    In the classroom, you must articulate your response in front of smart and sometimes critical classmates, most who have different perspectives than you and many whom you want to impress. These are the experiences business and legal leaders go through every day, and in a case discussion, you get the chance to practice that over and over again. I am excited to take these these types of courses at both business and law school. And I’m thankful to have a head start because of my summer program at Northwestern.

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    Monday, August 24th, 2009 Law School, Leadership No Comments

    JD-MBA Website and Profiles of My JD-MBA Classmates

    Hey everyone! Every since I began my blog about two months ago, I’ve gotten a large number of questions about Kellogg and the JD-MBA program. First of all, thank you for reading my blog and for reaching out to me with your questions. Second, this is definitely great news to see the interest in the program. Although I’m not affiliated with the admissions office, I do hope to use my blog to bring a lot more visibility to the JD-MBA program at Northwestern. It’s an amazing program, filled with the highest caliber of students in the world who will certainly be doing incredible things in business and law in the future. For all of you who are interested in the program, I strongly encourage you to do lots of research and really consider applying if the program is a fit for you.

    As a first step, you should take a look the JD-MBA Program Website. This site has been revamped this year, and provides a lot information related to admissions, the program itself, and the people in the program. As a second step, you should also take a look at the JD-MBA Association Website. The site has also been updated this year. Finally, I suggest that you continue to check out My Blog regularly. In my blog, I plan to continue sharing information firsthand about my experience in the program, provide calculated tips on getting into b-school and JD-MBA programs, and respond to thoughtful questions my readers have.

    As part of my blog, I’ve also decided to share some information about my current classmates in the class of 2012. First, we have a lot of interesting and talented folks that I suspect you’d be interesting in hearing about. Also, you’ll see the types of people that actually apply and get accepted in to the JD-MBA program, and you can assess if you have what it takes to do the same.

    So keep an eye out for my blog and stay tuned for the JD-MBA profiles.

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    Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 Business School, Law School No Comments

    Kellogg Incoming Class Profile: Innovation Still Reigns

    The Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern) recently released statistics for its Class of 2011, revealing what I think is a pretty unique trend at Northwestern. First, here are a few of the general statistics:

    In the 08-09 season, there were 5,795 applicants, 689 enrolled students, of which 33 percent are female, 21 percent are U.S. ethnic minorities and 30 percent are international students. The average GMAT is 708, 45% of admits scored between 700 and 740, and 32% majored in business administration prior to school.

    The biggest differences from last year are as follows: there were about ~700 additional applicants, 38 additional admitted students, a decrease in average GMAT by 4 points, a 3% decrease in ethnic minorities, a 2% decrease in women, and a 5% decrease in international students. The stats, especially the decrease in GMAT, are pretty shocking considering how competitive a year it was. I would have suspected that Kellogg could have had its choice of candidates and put together a class similar to last year’s.

    But for me, perhaps most interesting among the statistics was that 163 of the students, or almost 24%, will be part of innovative MBA programs, including the MMM, JD-MBA, or 1-year MBA. Last year, Kellogg had 165 of these students (~25%). This represents a radical departure from the typical 2-year MBA option which for decades has been the standard and still is the standard at most other schools.

    In general, Northwestern has been leading the trend on developing these innovative, accelerated programs. And it’s working. The JD-MBA program applications were up by about 50% this year, demonstrating a trend of increasing interest among applicants. While many folks believe it’s fair to debate the merits of these programs, schools are saying otherwise, as both U-Penn and Yale created a 3-year accelerated JD-MBA program this year and Sloan has implemented a program similar to the MMM a little while back. In addition, Northwestern Law has recently come out with a 2-year JD program that is beginning this year. Interesting to think about what Northwestern will do next and which schools will be next to follow the trend.

    For more details on the Kellogg Class of 2011 profile, click here.

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    Thursday, August 20th, 2009 Business School 3 Comments

    A World Apart

    Hey everyone. So I just arrived in Chicago this past week. It’s definitely a lot different here, and a world apart from Phoenix, where I spent the summer, and from Boston, where I spent the past two years. Fortunately, I won’t have to deal with any more 100 degree weather. I also don’t have to deal with having a car, since I’m living in downtown Chicago which is a nice convenience.

    First off, the area is pretty interesting. My apartment sits less than one block away from Lake Michigan, and the picture above is taken right from the window in my room. Surrounding my apartment is all of downtown Chicago, which consists of lots of really nice apartment buildings, Northwestern’s 20+ acre downtown campus, the beach, and the magnificent mile. If you don’t know that magnificent mile, it’s a world-renown shopping district that goes through the city of Chicago. It has all the top shopping spots, nice restaurants, tons of people in the summer, and lots other of things to do.

    My building is about a 4 minute walk from the law school campus, which sits adjacent to the Kellogg Executive Campus (downtown) and the Med School campus. Generally, in the morning students are hustling about through the city to go to class and professionals are walking or taking the metro to work. In the summer, people are always outside, either running, tanning on the beach, swimming, or just enjoying the warm weather while we have it, since Chicago does get extremely cold in the winter.

    It’s a big change to be headed back to school again after a few years off. I’ve spent a lot of time in the law school since I’ve been here. Not everyone is here on campus yet, but when you enter into the law school, it’s a surprise to see people in jeans and t-shirts and starring at laptops rather than taking in all the city has to offer, especially in the summer. But I’d expect nothing less at law school. The kids seem to be a bit more serious than the b-school kids. They’re definitely sharp, but they also seem to want to work really hard. And since law school grading is based on a curve, it seems like we’ll all be spending a lot more time in the books than I will be next year at Kellogg.

    In terms of facilities, the law school building is nothing like that of Kellogg. Kellogg is actually pretty old for a business school, though fortunately a new building is in the works. However, the law school has some of the most attractive physical facilities of any law school and the best location of any major urban law school, since it has prime real estate downtown less than a block from the lake and beach.

    School wise, this week I’m doing a summer preparation program that Northwestern has, which is sponsored by one of Chicago’s bigger law firms. The point of the program is to allow a handful of the students to get a head start on how to prepare for law school. Basically, we all had to apply to this program a few weeks ago, and the school accepted about 30 of us. Today was the first day of the program, and we are learning about things such as outlining, briefing cases, performing the Socratic Method, and other similar things. All these things are pretty foreign to me, since I’ve been in business the past few years.

    But despite being a world apart, I’m pretty excited to learn a bit about the legal industry. I plan to post a little about my experience in this program later in the week. Stay tuned!

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    Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 Business School, Law School 5 Comments

    Outliers … And Business School

    I’ve been taking a lot of packing breaks this week and trying to do a lot of reading. It’s been great. I hope I’ll be able to spare some time once school begins. I recently finished the book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell. It’s the 2nd Gladwell book that I’ve read this summer. The premise of the book is answering the question, “why do some people succeed more than others?” I thought this was a pretty appropriate book considering I’m headed off to law school and business school especially at Northwestern, where there will undoubtedly be a lot of aspiring CEOs, General Counsels, Partners, and Managing Directors. The real question, though, is which of us will ultimately become the outliers of the world?

    The fact that these schools have so many successful people brings up the question, what is it that these students do that makes them become successful? Do I have to get perfect grades, network with the most people, ace my job interviews, get promoted every year, or do I just have to get lucky. When I go to the bookstore, I can usually find a hundred biographies of famous people and self-help books that try to answer that question, and give me the seven habits (now eight habits) that will get me there. In fact, I’ve even read a few of them. However, what’s different about Outliers, is that this book puts much less focus on individual characteristics and emphasizes one’s environment, the people you come across, the breaks you are given, and the year you are born, basically all the things that are determined by chance. It’s the complete opposite of all the motivational books out there.

    As part of his argument, Gladwell references the 10,000-hour rule that explains how much high achiever practice in order to become great (i.e. Beatles practiced music for 10,000 hours, Bill Gates practiced coding for 10,000 hours, Tiger Woods golfed for 10,000 hours, etc). While he agrees that these were extremely talented and highly practiced people, he also argues that most of us ignore the fact that these individuals had opportunity to practice, that the stars aligned for them to have good coaches, facilities, and mentors to help them achieve greatness. He also argues that if the stars hadn’t aligned for them, then they would have turned out much differently, as there are a lot of other talented, hard-workers who could have done achieved the same things.

    In my opinion, Outliers is pretty well-argued and inspires me not only to work really hard in school but also to understand that some things are out of my control. The book also makes me think a lot about my future classmates. Who I will meet? Who will be in my section, my class, and in the seat next to me? Which folks are going to end up being really successful one day? And will I be one of those people?

    Who knows. But sometimes it’s interesting to think about it, and it’s also pretty exciting to know that I’ll be around a lot of successful people at both schools.

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    Thursday, August 13th, 2009 Business School 3 Comments

    Starting Over

    In two days, I’ll be packing up my things, heading to the airport and moving to the windy city (i.e. Chicago) to start a new journey in the Northwestern JD-MBA program. Similar to when I went off to undergrad years ago, I won’t be taking much with me except a few suitcases full of clothing and other personal things. I’ll be starting all over again. While most people don’t go as empty handed as I am, I think starting over is a common theme for the majority of business school students. I’ll explain.

    People apply to business school for all kinds of reasons and with all kinds of goals in mind, both personal and professional. But they can usually be narrowed down into two broad categories, 1) those who know exactly what they want to do upon graduation, and 2) those who have a few ideas in mind but aren’t really that sure. The first reason includes people who want to go into a certain industry, work for a specific company, or have a very unique job role that requires specific training to accomplish. Often these folks have a career change in mind but not always. Sometimes they just need the degree before they can start over at work in a new role. The second category is made for career changers. These people know they want to change their careers but they aren’t quite sure where they want to go, so they want to use school to explore, learn, reflect, and have access to a variety of careers after school. No matter which category you fit into, you usually come to business school to start over.

    Most of the Northwestern JD-MBAs I’ve met so far fall into the second category. I think this happens for two reasons. First, it’s because the law degree, unlike the MBA, is tailor made for career changers, as it opens up the entire legal industry that you would otherwise be prohibited from. As such, students are less likely to put a stake in the ground right away. But it’s also because getting a JD-MBA reflects the fact that you have a wider set of career interests, which fortunately the dual degree opens up. Despite writing very pointed essays about our career goals, usually more specific than our MBA-only counterparts, and convincing admissions from both school offices of why we need to obtain both degrees, many of the JD-MBAs still want to make sure they have put their dual degree to its best use. With career prospects in both business and law and in jobs that might otherwise be harder to obtain without a JD-MBA, this is pretty understandable.

    I usually consider myself to fit somewhere in between those two categories. Although I have more than one potential career in mind, I have a pretty pointed idea of where I’m headed after school. But like many of the other JD-MBAs I know, I’m going to keep an open mind about it because I don’t want to cut off any options until I have time to do more research and experience new things.

    Over the past year, I’ve learned that there are a lot more careers out there than most of us usually consider, and that sometimes it can take a long time to really figure it all out. That’s why all of us in grad school will be inundated by career fairs and encouraged to take different personality and career tests. My advice to applicants and students, is don’t feel rushed into making decisions early. Explore a wide variety of careers and see how they stack up against your values, personality, and your skills. You’ll be surprised at how many options turn up and what different things seem to appeal to you. More than 12 months after beginning the application process myself, I’m still doing some exploring.

    Personally, I’ve come to enjoy the process of looking into careers. I think it has a lot to do with my personal interests in careers, employment, general management, and leadership. But it will be a lot more fun to continue my career research with new classmates, with new friends, and in a new city. In fact, that’s part of what the b-school (and law school) experience is all about, discussing your ambitions, values, interests, and career goals with people in the same decision-making process as you are. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m looking forward to finally getting started after eight months of impatiently waiting. In sum, I’m look forward to starting over.

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    Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 Law School 4 Comments

    New Employment Stats and How Some MBAs, JDs, and Others Are Fairing

    As everyone probably knows, the newest economic reports tell us that the official unemployment rate dropped from 9.5% to 9.4%. There seem to be two ways people are thinking about these numbers. Some people are happy to see the improvement and are growing optimistic about the future, especially those people with the MBA or JD qualifier. But there are an equal number of people who don’t feel that way and predict that things will continue to get worse. Which way of thinking is correct?

    To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not an expert on labor issues, but I suspect that one’s perspective has a lot to do with what industry you work in, what school you went to, how long you’ve been at your current employer and your employment status. After chatting with lots of students, career centers, and professionals about career opportunities as a soon-to-be graduate student, my perspective is that the situation is still worse than it may seem.

    First, the unemployment stats are not all inclusive. If you think about it for a minute, the unemployment stats don’t include those:

    1) forced to work PT due to economic circumstances, but prefer FT work
    2) with reduced FT hours. In some places FT is 32 hrs (20% reduction)
    3) with expired unemployment benefits who are not current looking for work (i.e. maybe taking CFA exam, studying for Grad Tests, working in free internship, etc)
    4) who’ve found new jobs that pay less or are not career jobs
    5) headed back to school to avoid the economy (MBAs and JDs)
    6) recently graduated in May 2008/9 that want to enter the workforce but haven’t found jobs yet (students, including MBAs & JDs)

    If all these people are included, I suspect the “unemployment” numbers would raise dramatically, maybe to 2x what they are now.

    Second, I’ve talked to a lot of MBAs since April, and there were a lot more than I would have expected that were still looking for jobs, even at the best ranked schools. I was completely shocked. The number of interns without jobs was as of this past spring was also staggering, because firms are taking full time hires before making intern offers. While the employment of interns may not seem as critical as graduates, not getting an internship will make one’s job search much harder the next year and for some may preclude certain job opportunities.

    Third, in the legal field, a really large number of law firms have also curbed hiring. Many firms have decided to completely drop 1L summer hiring (1st year interns). I met an incredibly smart 1L from Stanford who I worked with at the Attorney General’s Office this summer, and she said that for the first time, many Stanford JDs didn’t get to summer at a corporate firm this year. She said it was the first time they struggled. I also lived with graduating JDs from Boston University this past year, and they have colleagues with really good grades still scrambling to finalize their plans. Many graduates were looking into non-paying internships in order to get work experience until they can find a paying job. What’s worse is that those jobs are not even guarantees, as the graduates now have to compete against 20 others for that non-paying job. As I said, the situation is a bit worse than it seems.

    For me personally, I am not as worried about the economy just yet, because I’m headed to school for a few years. Hopefully I’ll be able to hide away from the worst of the recession. I also admit that I’m fortunate to be headed to a program with a track record of sending students to premier employers and a program where students take classes and can do research during the first summer, so there is less pressure to find a certain “type” of summer job.

    But aside from my own situation, I have a lot of friends and family members who are affected, including JDs and MBAs. For that reason, I like to keep up with what’s happening and recently found a few stats that I found interesting:

    1) More than 100k people have already used up their unemployment benefits (I have a former MBA co-worker and a JD friend that will have to worry about this soon)
    2) These benefits range from 46 weeks in Utah to 79 weeks in Alabama, depending on the unemployment percentages in each state. This means that many residents have been unemployed and collecting benefits for well over a year now
    3) By the end of Aug., an estimated 650k people will run out of unemployment benefits
    4) By the end of 2009, the number is estimated to be 1.5 million. This number will include lots of MBAs from the financial services and other industries

    Given those statistics, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research about the economy. I recently found an article by late economist Arthur Okun (thanks to Robert Reich’s article for the reference), who once said that “a rule of thumb that every two percent drop in economic growth generates a one percent rise in unemployment.“ Robert said, that this is the first time that the rule no longer holds true. He said that it’s not even close this time.

    Overall, I’m guessing that by the time I graduate in 2012, I will be living in a pretty different economy than I am today. I’m interested to see how that economy will look and thankful that I’ll have 3 years to observe, study, and prepare for what’s going to happen. What’s great about my JD-MBA program is that it will allow me to get a cross-functional, well-rounded perspective on everything that’s happening, as I’ll be able to interact with lawyers, politicians, judges, business people, recruiters, consultants, HR experts, academics, government officials, and students from a plethora of career backgrounds.

    I’m definitely fortunate to be headed back to school during this defining period in our economy. Everyone who is applying this upcoming year should do the best they can to get in. Looking at the current economic environment and the unemployment trends, it’s probably going to be another tough year for applicants.

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    Monday, August 10th, 2009 Careers, Labor Economics 1 Comment

    PepsiCo Challenge

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pre-MBA workship with PepsiCo in New York City. The purpose of the event to show the attendees a little about what it’s like to work in marketing at Pepsi. I was personally interested in the session because Pepsi has a huge presence in Chicago, so I know that at some point, I might make my way there for interview or at the very least, an event they sponsored for Kellogg.

    As expected, our day was jam-packed with panels, Q&A sessions, case studies, and a team based project, just like all the sessions I’ve been to. Also, like most of the other boot camps I’ve been too, I was really impressed with all the senior folks who took time from their day to come chat with us. There were a couple of Senior Managers, one or two Directors, and a VP. All the executives came from schools such as Kellogg, HBS, Stanford, and USC, and they all seemed to be high trajectory employees. Reflecting on the personnel who attended and on the rigor of the event, it’s pretty clear that the event was twofold: 1) to sell us on why Pepsi (and marketing) is a great company and 2) to profile potential applicants to PepsiCo down the line.

    While I don’t plan to interview for marketing roles after school, the session definitely opened up the marketing profession for me. I got the chance to experience firsthand how marketing professionals approach problems and how cross-functional the marketing role is, at least at Pepsi.

    I was also impressed to the extent to which the employees talked about values and how they used them to employ marketing strategies. While a lot of talk a lot about values, Pepsi definitely stood out. Every color they used, slogan they created, and campaign they launched touched on important company principles, such as youthfulness, daringness, larger-than-life attitude, and human performance. It was pretty impressive to see how everything connected behind the scenes.

    The highlight of the day was our team project, where the groups was broken into teams, and each team was charged to come up with a new product for PepsiCo to sell. There were 8 or 9 groups, and we all broke off for about 90 minutes to brainstorm, come up with the product details, draw out a informal presentation, and pitch our idea to the Pepsi executives. It was pretty cool to see the variety of different products that the teams came up with, such as a new health drink, a new low-fat ice cream bar, and a new energy snack.

    As I’ve continued to experience in these sessions as well as in my pre-MBA consulting career, there is definitely an art to working effectively in diverse groups. No matter how good you are with people or how charismatic you are, working effectively in a group of 5 or 6 people, especially type-A personalities is really hard, especially when there is no clearly assigned leader. I look forward to continuing to practice at Kellogg, where teamwork definitely takes center stage.

    Reflecting back on the overall session, I learned that marketing is less about creativity and fuzzy ideas than it is about analytics and rigorous business analysis. The teams who did the best in the Pepsi challenge seemed to work pretty well together and had a solid business plan to back up their creative products.

    After chatting with the executives, I also learned that there’s not a whole lot of room for JD-MBAs in the marketing profession, at least not right out of school. While JDs are definitely smart enough to do well in the profession, many of the recruiters don’t see a strong academic fit. The good news is that if you are considering the JD-MBA and if you are interested in marketing, the business development function (a cousin to marketing) is definitely a good fit in the long run because of its deal, negotiation, and contractual components.

    Although I don’t plan to go into marketing after I graduate, I’m still glad I went to the PepsiCo event and ecstatic that I’ll be going to Kellogg, where I’ll learn a lot about marketing and where I’ll probably get more “teamwork” than I can handle.

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    Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Careers 2 Comments

    Early Career MBA & JD-MBA Applicants

    I recently came across an email from a reader who’s looking into JD-MBA programs. She’s currently beginning her senior year in college, and she asked me to provide her with some general advice for applying to JD-MBA programs. So I wanted to take a few moments to share “some” of my answer here and also discuss the idea of early career MBA applicants, which definitely has been getting a lot of buzz the last few years.

    Good afternoon,

    My name is (removed). I am currently going into my senior at (Removed) University. I have always showed a strong liking for law and legal studies and have always favored business due to the fact that it’s forever changing, and there is always something new to learn regardless of which direction one may choose. As my senior year approaches I am looking into continuing my studies rather than taking time off, working and then jumping back into them. As I was doing some research, I came across your blogs and found them quite informational. It seems that you have accepted your offering into the JD/MBA program at Northwestern and as someone about to embark on the journey of applying to various business schools and law schools I would like to know your thoughts of the process. I have looked into Northwestern’s JD/MBA program and it is one of my top two schools since I have found only four/five that I genuinely feel are perfect matches for me. Since you were once in my position can you give me any advice that will be helpful to me as I begin my application process?

    I look forward to your insights. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Hi (Removed)

    Thanks so much for writing and for checking out my blog. I’m glad you find the information useful and that you’re interested in JD-MBA programs and interested in Northwestern’s dual program.

    I’ll try to provide you with a bit of information, though I’ll keep much of it general, given I don’t know many details about your profile, and because you’re still completing your undergraduate degree.

    Business schools have traditionally preferred applicants like me (with 4 to 5 years of work experience) over those like you (with less work experience) The idea is that someone who has more professional experiences is better equipped to contribute to class and section discussions, and also can better understand much of the practical business coursework. Having visited a number of schools and sat in on classes at each of them, I think that older students did add more to the classroom dynamic and discussions. But it wasn’t true in every circumstance.

    Statistically, this preference has especially been true at Kellogg, where the average years of work experience is closer to five years, and where traditionally very few applicants have ever been taken straight from undergrad. In fact, reportedly a few years back, Kellogg didn’t accept a single student straight from undergrad. That said, although Kellogg has not completely followed the trend of seeking out younger candidates, they have expressed some interest in the idea. According to Beth Flye in 2008 in an online chat, 15-20% are younger candidates (which she defines as 2-3 years of experience) and on the record, she said that Kellogg would like to see more applications from more of these top candidates.

    Although I headed back after 4 years out (will be 5 years when I matriculate at Kellogg) I actually considered applying for an MBA two years out of school. Unfortunately, that idea was not in my control and it was  short-lived because the start-up firm I worked for suddenly went out of business. Although I was definitely set on going back to school early, in retrospect, it worked out well. Not only did I gain some interesting experiences afterward, but it’s also pretty clear to me that I’m better prepared to head back now after my additional work and community experiences.

    Although this is true for most applicants, MBA programs have still been trending down in terms of preferred years of experience. Today, many of the top schools strongly consider applicants with 0 to 2 years of experience as much as they consider older applicants. Of the elite schools, Stanford, Harvard, and Sloan are taking younger kids in hordes, and they’re doing it even moreso today than they did a few years ago when I thought of applying.

    If I had to give advice to younger applicants when applying, first I’d say that stats are likely going to be relatively more important for you to be admitted. Since on average, you have less work experience than older candidates and thus less professional experience to draw from (as I also did when I considered applying), schools will want to see evidence of your intelligence through high grades and stellar GMAT scores.

    Additionally, just because you have less professional experience doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for leadership potential. In fact, it’s probably just the reverse. Schools still want to see evidence of your leadership and decision-making in extra-curricular activities and in internships. And because you’re younger, they may even want more specific and more recent examples.

    Third, I’d also say that as a younger applicant, it’s possible that admissions may want you to have a higher percentage of quantitative coursework. That’s because you won’t have work experience to serve as a proxy, and because it also might serve as good evidence of how you would fair in the first year of an MBA program.

    But after these things, I suspect that you’ll probably be assessed like every other candidate based on your b-school “story,” on your short and long-term goals, on your discussion of why you want/ need an MBA, and your answer of Why now?

    That last question, “Why now?” often gets neglected by applicants, which I think is a mistake in applications, especially in competitive years where “now” is really important for some applicants. For you, the difference is that you’re story must answer the question, why now right after school, as opposed to why now, 4 or 5 years out of school?

    In comparison to business school, many JD-MBA programs have always welcomed applications from candidates with less work experience. This is because these programs balance the respective profiles of the universities’ business school and law school, where each school really is quite different. While business schools usually prefer a couple of years of experience, law schools have traditionally taken students with little or no work experience. As such, admits at some JD-MBA programs have a pretty low average age, though the actual statistics depends on the school. The Northwestern JD-MBA for instance has a typical average of 4.5 to 5.0 years of experience, which is pretty closely aligned with general MBA population. The four-year program at U-Penn has been pretty similar.  However, I know of 4 or 5 schools off hand that encourage applicants straight from undergrad.

    To me, all of these differences emphasize the importance of finding a good fit when applying. Although many applicants hear the word “fit” every time they discuss MBA applications, it is important to ensure you apply to and enroll at a school that is the right fit for your professional and personal aspirations. Once you find that school (or those schools), then my personal opinion is that you should give applying a shot. And to do that,  you need to work on getting your story together, and then on putting together a quality application. Both of those processes can be really rigorous, but when you’re ready to go back, it’s always worth it.

    Good luck if you decide to do so this year. And good luck to all those considering JD-MBA programs and early career applications.

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    Monday, August 3rd, 2009 Admissions, Business School, Careers 8 Comments

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    Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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    The contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect the views or position of Kellogg, Northwestern Law, the JD-MBA program, or any firm that I work for. I only offer my own perspective on all issues.
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