Last September, I finally made the big jump. I left my post at a full-time consulting firm in Boston and decided to head off to business school and law school. Like most students, I saw school as the perfect opportunity to pursue my dreams and eventually make my way to the top.
But at the same time, I felt compelled to start a blog so I should share my experiences with others. Like many new endeavors, the blog was both more fun and more work than I expected. So I decided to put together a site and spread the word a bit and worked hard to keep posting. Soon found that I really enjoyed the process, and I became committed to keeping it running.
Change Is Good
Six months later–and just a few weeks ago today–I came to the realization that my blog was reaching a bit of a transition point. Although my site was only about six months old, I decided I needed a better website to host it on given the number of visitors I was attracting and given recent challenges I came across with the old host site. I also thought my blog was starting to feel a bit more focused over time. So I thought I take a step back and then try to adapt the content a bit in order to best serve me and my readers.
So What’s New?
1. So here’s what new: First, I’m hoping to put a lot more effort into writing about the readers want. Feedback from readers suggests that you’d like more answers to questions. So I invite you to send all your questions about Northwestern, whether about admissions, about law or business school generally, about the recruiting processes that happen here, or career options stemming from both.
2. Next, I also hope to better balance the amount of tactical information I write about better with the higher level advice that I enjoy. In past posts, I’ve usually posted about one or the other, but I look forward to telling more integrated stories and sharing other types of information.
3. I’ve noticed that many of my readers visit pretty frequently. So I’ll try to balance my longer more interesting articles, with shorter ones to keep the content moving. To do this, I’ll integrate shorter posts about activities and events here on campus as well as links to related news stories and articles.
4. As you may have noticed, three themes have really emerged on my site, and I intend to keep incorporating them heavily into my writing. 1) The differing values and skills that JDs and MBAs bring to the table, and how they can work together to achieve better results. 2) The importance of good leadership in the workplace and some of my reflections on the topic 3) The idea that “business is human” and that financial decisions and human resources decisions don’t always have to be so disparate.
But don’t get me wrong. despite my idea to focus, I’m pretty certain my new site will still evolve over time. In fact, I I hope that it does. But hopefully those twists and turns will be learning experiences and they will both provide me with some pretty good life lessons and with the stories to narrate here on my website.
And in the end, I hope the blog will become valuable to more and more people, and I hope that the benefits bestowed up my reader’s will be just as great as the rewarding experience I’ve had as a student and as a journaler. I look forward to sharing my experiences along the way. Stay tuned ! And post a comment or two to let me know what you think.
Hey all, I hope everyone is enjoying your holiday seasons so far. After chatting with a couple of friends this holiday season, it sounds like a lot of students, and even professionals, are spending a significant amount of time updating resumes and cover letters during the break. So I thought I’d pass along a quick article on job search tips from the WSJ, an article that was originally posted last week by my fellow Stanford blogger, Marquis Parker.
By now, I suspect that most of my MBA followers are familiar with Marquis Parker. If not, you should take the time to be. Marquis is Stanford GSB alum (Stanford is our connection) and after graduating from b-school he’s spent time at Mckinsey & Co and in the private equity space. Ever since starting at the GSB, Marquis has been one of the best MBA bloggers out there. In fact, he was part of the reason I began my blog. In a recent post, Marquis passed along this article about job search strategies, so given a couple of recent conversations I’ve had with classmates, I thought I’d do the same here.
Click here to see Marquis’ blog post. I’ve also copied the intro to his post below:
Excerpt from Marquis Parker’s Post from the WSJ
“As many of you know, the global economic downturn has left many people around the world, particularly in the U.S., without full-time employment as we approach the holiday season. This is an issue that has been top-of-mind for me lately because of a few friends who have been on the job market for a while and are starting to wonder if they’ll be able to find a gig about which they can be happy. As a result, I’ve been keeping an eye out for job-related resources and recently came across two articles from The Wall Street Journal’s website that could be of interest to folks in the middle of a job search. The first article provides advice on how to improve on a resume and the second gives tipcs on how to kick-start a job search that has stalled. If you’re looking for a new gig, both of these articles should be useful to you.”
Title: “Creating a resume that sells”
Author: Sarah E. Needleman
Source: The Wall Street Journal Online, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704431804574539403154677622.html
Excerpt from intro text:
“In today’s cutthroat job market, having a top-notch résumé is critical to success. But there’s a host of conflicting advice about exactly what makes a good résumé—and not every tip is right for every industry. To find out what hiring managers look for most in these documents, The Wall Street Journal introduces Résumé Doctor, a new feature in which recruiting experts and hiring managers critique readers’ résumés and suggest ways to improve them.”
Title: “Giving a stalled job search a jump-start”
Author: Sarah E. Needleman
Source: The Wall Street Journal Online, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704500604574483430441125284.html
Excerpt from intro text:
“For many out-of-work professionals, finding a job in today’s market requires far more effort than it did in the past—and a lot more stamina. Last month, the Labor Department reported that it takes unemployed workers an average of 27.2 weeks to land a job, up from 19.1 weeks in September 2008 and 16.7 in September 2007. But career experts say there are several ways job hunters can revive a stalled search.
Taking a highly targeted approach, as Ms. Jones eventually did, is one strategy. Another is to focus on obtaining leads to unadvertised positions where the companies seek out their own applicants. Relying solely on job-board listings, which have been shrinking, isn’t enough these days. There were roughly 3.3 million jobs advertised online last month, compared with 4.4 million in September 2008 and 4.7 million in September 2007, according to the Conference Board, a research firm.”
Hey all, I hope everyone is enjoying December so far and that you have fun plans with family and friends for the holiday break. As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished my first semester law school final exams a couple of days ago, and just yesterday I left Chicago for the warm weather of sunny Arizona. But sounds like I was one of the lucky ones. Despite a small delay on the runway, I was able to escape the winter snowstorms in Chicago. Unfortunately that was not the case for my classmates.
Upon reading the news, it sounds like a lot of people had delayed flights. In fact, many of my friend never even took a step on the plane. I hope all those headed back east, especially out to Philadelphia and Virginia, are able to make out soon. The break is far too short to have to miss a few days due to “odd” weather conditions. Also, just wanted to give a big congratulations to those of you who just finished your first semester of law school or business school, It’s definitely a big accomplishment, and from what I hear it only gets a lot easier from here. I’ll let you all know if that’s true at Northwestern once the semester begins in a few weeks.
Anyhow, the point of my post here was just to pass along a quick website to you guys. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a company named Glassdoor (Click Here for Website) If you have not heard of the company yet, you should take a minute to browse the website. You’ll see that it has a lot of pretty interesting career-related information, including reviews of companies, interview information, and employee salary levels, all of which are pretty important to anyone in the job market. While I don’t know enough about the company to vouch for every piece of information, most of what I’ve seen doesn’t seem too far off. To see most of the information, you’ll have to sign up with a user name and password. But that’s an easy process, and I’ve found the information here to be well worth the five minutes it takes to sign up. And the good news is that the site works for almost everyone, as there’s information here for those both in business and those in law.
It looks like Glassdoor also just came out with a Best Places to Work in 2010 list (Click Here for List). I’m not sure exactly how they analyzed the companies to come up with the rankings, but I suspect it has something to do with the individual feedback on the site. Have a look when you have a chance.
Earlier today, Princeton Review released its 2010 rankings of the top full-time U.S. law school programs. The organization ranks law schools in 11 different categories based on student surveys. This year, 172 law schools were eligible.
Despite long-time criticisms about graduate school rankings, law school rankings still play an important role in the world of legal education. When a school’s ranking drops, fewer admitted applicants accept spots at the school (i.e. yield rate), and budgets are often adjusted. Likewise, when a school rises in the rankings, the school often achieve a higher yield rate and an increase in applications. Northwestern Law more than most schools has historically been quite supportive of the ranking system. The schools believes that it provides one way to measure the school’s reputation and progress toward its overall strategic goals.
See below for a look at this year’s school rankings and how Northwestern stacks up:
First, here are a few of the overall rankings “Career Prospects:”
4. University of Chicago
6. Boston University
7. Boston College
Second here are the rankings for “toughest to get into:”
Third here are the rankings for “quality of life:”
4. St. Thomas
10. George Washington
Here are the summary rankings for Northwestern:
Best Career Prospects: #1
Toughest to Get Into #7
Best Quality of Life: # 9 (4th among top law schools),
Best Classroom Experience #10 (5th among the top law schools)
Northwestern has held the No. 1 spot for Best Career Prospects for four of the five years that the Princeton Review has published these rankings. While the difficult economy continues to present immediate challenges to students hitting the job market, this recognition is a testament to our strong reputation. It also affirms our distinctive career-focused strategy and efforts to prepare graduates for successful lifelong careers that will span multiple employers and industries.
As a point of reference, here is how Northwestern ranked in the 2009 U.S. News Rankings:
Trial Advocacy: 10th
Clinical Training: 13th
Tax Law: 4th
Legal Writing: 10th
Dispute Resolution: 15th
International Law: 19th
Click here for a full list of Northwestern Rankings.
I just got back from New Orleans this past weekend from the NBMBAA conference. I had an incredible time. Thousands of people came from all over the US, enthusiastic to network with other business school students, optimistic to make that one special connection with a recruiter, and eager to get a competitive advantage and get one step closer to a full-time, six-figure dream job after graduation.
I arrived on Thursday early morning and after checking into my hotel, went straight to the career fair. Upon walking into the convention center, I saw hundreds of people scrambling to the registration room, all dressed in their best suits and in their shiny black shoes. Some were quickly running through their resumes before heading to talk to employers, others scrolling through emails on their blackberries, and others looking at the maps trying to find their target companies.
The crowd was incredibly diverse. It not only consisted of Black MBAs but also many of the world’s diverse cultures–Asian, Indian, Hispanic, White, and more. It was good to see that there were also quite a few women at the conference. Professionally, the people were mostly business school students.
Having been in MLT and having gone to lots receptions and admitted student weekends over the past year, I’d had the chance to meet a fair number of these people before, so it was nice to have a chance to see them all again. MLT was there in full force. Not only did dozens of MLT’ers from my class come out, but people from other classes came too. MLT also had a booth right near the front door. It felt like a mini-reunion.
Kellogg kids were also abound at the conference. Being in downtown Chicago at the law school, I don’t get to go down to Evanston as much as I’d like to, so it was nice to get together with everyone. Like MLT, Kellogg had a booth at the conference, and I spent a good deal of time there hanging out with the admissions team as well a with all the 1st and 2nd year students. About 15 or so other Schools were also in attendance, including the University of Chicago Booth, which is pretty close to Kellogg here in Chicago.
But despite all of the mingling, make no mistake about it, the highlight of the conference was Career Fair. Over the three days, more than 400 employers came out to actively recruit MBAs for summer internships and full-time positions. And this year, in these “odd” economic times, people didn’t take it for granted. My Kellogg counterparts were definitely on point. I chatted with them a lot about their job searches, and most of them had 1st and 2nd round interviews at the fair.
This fact highlights the biggest difference in recruiting at business schools and law schools. My MBA counterparts were hustling around for almost the entire conference, because for them, recruiting began before school even started. However at law school, we don’t start recruiting until December, which supposedly gives us a chance to focus more on our school work. As such, there isn’t much pressure for us to scramble around to find a job. As a JD-MBA I felt like I was part of both worlds. I was really interested to watch the recruiting process from the front line, so I definitely chatted lots of firms. But as a current law student, I didn’t feel any of the stress the MBAs felt, and I didn’t target any interviews during the conference.
Instead, my approach was to get a bird’s eye view of the recruiting environment and to see how all the companies fit into the puzzle. I spent my time talking to companies about the economy, asking questions about their financial well-being, and getting their perspectives on diversity. Most employers were quite willing to talk, especially since I probably came off as quite sincere given I didn’t have a hidden agenda of getting hired. On a couple of different occasions I was able to engage recruiters for 45-60 minutes at a time, whereas most people had closer to 10-15 minutes to make a pitch.
I was also able to learn a lot about a couple of not-for-profits who were at the conference. I spent a good deal of time with Education Pioneers and The Gates Foundation and went to their reception on Thursday evening for a couple of hours. The people at both organizations were fantastic, and I look forward to spending a lot more time checking out both organizations in the near future.
After a long two days of watching people run around looking for jobs, the career fair finally ended Friday at 5pm. At that point a lot of people went home to rest for a few hours before a night out on the town. I decided to head over to a private BCG reception at the local W hotel to mingle with some of the firm consultants. I’d met the Director of Diversity Recruiting a few times before, but it was good to see him again. After that, I went to the awards ceremony at another hotel to pick up my NBMBAA scholarship award with the other ten or so winners. As you might guess considering we were in New Orleans, the ceremony was more of a big celebration than anything, and it was a great lead-in to an unforgettable night on Bourbon Street.
I had a flight back to Chicago Saturday morning. I was on a flight with an MLT buddy who I wrote essays with in Boston, and I arrived home just in time to finish writing my Legal Writing paper for Sunday afternoon. It was quite a long weekend, but it was definitely worth the time. If you’re thinking about going to the NBMBAA conference in the future, you should definitely consider attending. The caliber of people are high, the opportunity to learn about companies is paramount, you’ll probably be in a pretty lively city, and the employers will likely be aggressively recruiting, which is especially nice in these “odd” economic times.
Having started a JD-MBA program this year and having just got back from the NBMBAA Career Fair over the weekend, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about career goals and trying to get a sense of which way I should be headed, especially given that two sets of career options will be open. I’ve thought a lot about consulting, law, and finance as well as some other non traditional career paths, such as becoming an entrepreneur or going into some kind of public service. A lot of people in both business and law school have trouble defining what kind of work they want to do or what field appeals to them. Many of us choose jobs or fields based on the prestige level or future earnings potential, but we quickly find out that the industry is not a good fit or we quickly burn out. I think that understanding your personality type can be helpful for analyzing what may or may not work for you.
As part of my first year of law school, the incoming class took an MBTI test. I suspect I’ll also take one next year at the business school. If you don’t know much about it, the MBTI test talks about your personality and designates you with a 4-letter code across 4 categories. Here are the basics of the 4 categories:
Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).
Statistically, lawyers (and law students) are slightly more likely to be introverts than extroverts. They also tend to be intuitive more than sensing, thinking to feeling, and judging to perceiving. The irony for me, is that I only align with lawyers on 1 out of 4 (Intuitive). I am curious to see how my type stacks up in business school. I suspect that more kids in business school will be “E” but that I’ll still be a bit different in terms of the other categories. I think in general, business students tend to be more sensing and judging, as they rely more on logic and firm decisions than they do on intuition or on the human element. That said, I think there’s a place for all sorts of leaders in both the business and legal communities.
Aside from career preferences, MBTI type is also a great tool to use to start thinking about your professional leadership style, which ultimately may be more important to your long-term success. Leading at a consulting firm, a bank, a law firm, or a public service enterprise is not about performing tasks or giving orders to employees. Rather it’s about working with and through employees at various levels of performance and various levels in the firm hierarchy. It’s about maneuvering a group of peers who may question your decisions and even your position in the organization.
To do this well, leaders must be both self-aware and empathetic ….. understanding their own moods, motivations, and tendencies, and recognizing and appreciating those of others. The MBTI test helps you understand how people take in and act upon information. If you can understand your preferences and others’, then you can reach a broader audience, communicate in a way that others find compelling, and inspire them to act.
As I embark on my leadership journey, I plan to try to keep my type in the back of my mind as well as become more adept at interpreting the preferences of others around me. Here is a little more about my type.
ENFP is usually designated as “Inspirer,” “Champion,” or “Change Agent.” I’ve always been an ENFP, and I really do think the description is spot on.
“Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency.” (Click Here For My Resource)
“ENFPs are energetic and enthusiastic leaders who are likely to take charge when a new endeavor needs a visionary spokesperson. ENFPs are values-oriented people who become champions of causes and services relating to human needs and dreams. Their leadership style is one of soliciting and recognizing others’ contributions and of evaluating the personal needs of their followers. ENFPs are often charismatic leaders who are able to help people see the possibilities beyond themselves and their current realities.” (Click Here For My Resource).
To me, the description of this type is spot on, especially the “recognizing patterns,” “making connections,” “using verbal fluency,” and the focusing on the human element descriptions. Ironically, my MBTI seems to be better suited for an entrepreneur, public service professional, or politician than for a lawyer or business person. The good news is that I’m quite interested in all of those possibilities. The bad news is that despite my interest, there is a lot of pressure to come out of school a lawyer or business person upon graduation, at least for a few years. Not only do I have lots of loans to figure out how to pay off, but I also think that getting some solid legal and/or business experience at a top firm will be invaluable. I’m curious to see how everything plays out.
Tomorrow at 5:45am, I’ll be hopping on a plane to head to the National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Conference. The NBMBAA conference is about recognizing the achievements of blacks in business schools around the country. What an incredible opportunity to meet many of the future minority business leaders from all across the top business schools in the US.
As part of the conference there is a 2-day career fair. Over 400 companies will be there (click here for a partial list), including Accenture, American Express, Google, Booz Allen, Pepsi, Deustche Bank, and Bank of America, just to name a few. Many of these companies will be interviewing MBAs for summer internships and for full-time positions. I won’t be doing too much interviewing at the conference because of the nature of my JD-MBA program, but I do have a short list of companies that I plan to chat with a bit and to keep in touch with over the year. I always find it a lot of fun to learn about companies from recruiters, who usually know more about their companies than anyone since they are the gatekeepers. I’m also quite interested in the strategies that companies employ to attract and retain talent and their approaches to increasing diversity, given my high interest in labor issues.
I don’t know how many of you have been to these types of leadership conferences, but they’re usually worth the trip. Not only is it the perfect venue to meet lots of ambitious and talented people and a way to position yourself closer to a great summer job, but it’s also a good venue to enjoy your experience in a new and interesting city. Personally, I’ve never been to New Orleans before, and I’m excited to explore the city. The good news is that I’ll see a large number of my MLT friends and Kellogg friends at the conference. It’ll be nice to reconnect with everyone.
I’ll be in New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll fly back to Chicago Saturday morning, just in time to get back to my reading for law school and finish up a legal paper by Sunday.
Stay tuned for an update on the conference!
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.
- Most of those have spots at Cravath, Kirkland, and Skadden
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hey everyone! I want to take a few moments to write about an organization that I am part of called Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). I’ve written about the program before, but I’m giving them a bit of special recognition for two reasons. (1) Because I recently finished MLT’s MBA Prep program this June and (2) because MLT was recently hosted on CNN’s Black in America series last week.
I am definitely fortunate to have been part of MLT as an MBA applicant, the program is top notch. Click here to see a clip from CNN that says the same thing.
In terms of the mission of MLT, here is a blurb from the website: “MLT’s MBA Prep prepares early-career professionals for admission to top MBA programs and to make successful post-MBA career transitions. Individual coaching, seminars led by admissions officers, relationship- and skill-building workshops, mentoring from alumni, and in-depth boot camps led by corporate partners are all part of this highly successful program.”
Practically speaking, the program took place over an 18-month period. In that time, I spent lots of time with my cohort, my individual coach, and my MLT friends, and together we visited campuses, interacted with current MBA students, reflected on personal goals, studied for the GMAT, wrote essays, and met with partner companies and admissions representatives. It was definitely a rigorous experience balancing the program with work, especially as a consultant, but it was well-worth when I got into a couple of really great schools and feel like I have a good head start to accelerate my career.
I just finished my MLT year in June, along with about 150 other fellows. The majority of the fellows got into one of their top choice programs—”overall today there are over 500 total MBA Prep Alumni, 90+% get into one of their top three business school choices, and most attend top 10 business schools.”
My cohort members were located in Boston and upper New York. There were about a dozen of us all from VERY different professional backgrounds and with very different professional interests. But the common denominator is that everyone is headed to great schools this fall, including Wharton, Booth (multiple), Kellogg (multiple), Tuck (multiple), Columbia, and others. We definitely had a lot of talented applicants.
In general, MLT has lots of kids going to these and other top schools this year. Additionally, MLT also sent a lot of kids to Kellogg this year, which I personally am excited about, it will be great to have a lot of friends down in Evanston.
If you are interested in MLT, you should definitely consider applying. Information sessions are happening all over the US in August for applicants who want to apply in 2010/2011 and graduate in 2013. Take a look at the website and see if any sessions are in your geography. Also, feel free to email me or post any questions about the program here on my blog.
Along the lines of my last post about Citibank, I also recently went to a pre-MBA boot camp event with Mckinsey & Co in their New York office. It was part of the same weekend as the Citi event back in June. The session was terrific, and I was especially attentive considering that I’m targeting consulting firms post-graduation. There were about 35 or 40 people there, which was useful because I got a chance to meet all the other students in the room as well as the recruiters, consultants and firm partners. I spent a good deal of time with the Kellogg recruiter, which was great, although unfortunately I don’t think she’ll be the Kellogg recruiter again next year.
Overall, the consultants there seemed pretty similar to the folks I’ve met at other consulting recruiting events–diverse backgrounds, really smart, highly accomplished, well-groomed, pretty humble, really poised, and definitely headed towards doing big things.
One point of distinction, however, was the fact that “structure” seemed to seep through everything they did. The event itself, the presentations, the conversations, and the way the consultants thought about things and presented all had a real structure to it. I have quite a number of friends who’ve worked at Mckinsey over the past few years, and from what they told me, there is a really structured way of doing everything there, from billing, to traveling, to staffing, to using frameworks on projects, to even ordering food in the evening. I don’t tend to be overly organized or structured by nature, but I’d be fine with that approach in a firm.
A couple of other things that stood out for me were that Mckinsey definitely came off as a place that values personal development, that is quite cooperative (not competitive at all), and that has an aura of prestige in the room. For me personally, what probably stood out the most about Mckinsey is that it also prides itself in being the relationship-driven firm. While relationships are definitely vital to all the firms, I think Mckinsey sticks out in this regard. For one, they’ve done a good job at staying in touch with the attendees ever since the event. Also, as you can even see from the picture I posted from their website, relationships are at the forefront of what they think about.
What I also saw about Mckinsey is that they like non-MBAs a lot. Not only do they have whole teams dedicated to hiring both non-MBAs and JDs and they had a slew of law graduates and dual degree’rs at the office while I was there. Both of these facts give me a bit more confidence going into the application process. Given how selective the firm is, I’ll take every advantage I can get.
Aside from all these things I learned about the firm, my favorite part of the session was the group case study. Mckinsey broke us up into about 7 or 8 randomly selected groups, and we spent about 2.5 hours with our teammates hashing through a study that Mckinsey actually did a couple of months ago. We were tasked with recommending which country in South Africa should a the client foundation fund for the cure of aids, and we were given a 50-page packets with information on about 12 of the countries. It was definitely a good test of some the typical consulting skills– working with lots of information, navigating an unfamiliar topic, structuring an analysis, working in teams, and presenting. It was pretty interesting to see all the teams present different countries.