Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mission Impossible

Your mission, shall you choose to accept, is a Herculean task, one that will require incredible skill, perfect execution, and lady luck. 

The mission is the following.  Gain admission to a M7 full-time MBA program despite being denied several times before, being close to your mid-30's, coming from an overrepresented demographic group, AND coming from an industry despised by MBA adcom.  Does it sound daunting?  Does the thought of this mission make you a bit dizzy? 

Although the above paragraph may sound like hyperbole, it's certainly not.  I believe that it actually accurately describes my situation and the many obstacles I face.  This week I started my new job.  Aside from receiving congratulations from friends, I have also been asked whether I will apply to b-schools.  Much to their shock, I told them that I will wait a year and then re-apply to schools for the class that starts in fall 2015.  At matriculation, I will be 34 years old, a Methuselah in terms of the b-school student body (esoteric Old Testament reference here). 

Why go through this painful ordeal again?  After all, I have a good job with a very well-respected firm in the trading industry, with lot of upside if things go well.  The simple answer is that I have very specific professional and social goals that I tried VERY hard to accomplish but have been unable to do so without the resources and network of a top b-school.  Over the past 5 years or so, I attended countless networking events and conferences, reached out to alums, had coffee chats with various professionals, etc.  On the social side, I tried everything within my power to establish a good network of friends.  Although I did make some good friends, the reality was that people just lose touch over the years as they move away, get married, or just get plain busy.  On the professional side, despite my best efforts, I have been unable to break into the firm of my choice.

I certainly do not want to be making excuses here.  I'm merely explicating to provide the full context behind my thought process.   Ultimately, I do not find trading to be intellectually satisfying, for my core interests are aligned with macro investment research and long-term systematic strategies designed to more efficiently allocate risk in a highly interconnected global economy.  I have acquired some very specific useful skills from trading and will acquire even more in my new job.  However, breaking into the jobs I want require access to these employers via on-campus recruiting, alumni networks, and the plethora of professional events at b-schools that expose you to these firms.  It is especially frustrating to me because I'm confident of my abilities and what I bring to the table.  I believe strongly that if I were given interviews I would get several very solid offers.  Unfortunately, one cannot put the cart before the horse, for without admission, I will not be granted the access that I desire.  Gaining admission to a top MBA program has thus far been Mission Impossible.

If my fantasies come true, I will be joining a M7 program as a member of the Class of 2017.  Until then, I have to grind and hustle and keep my eyes on the ultimate prize.

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