Friday, August 16, 2013

When is it too late to rebrand yourself?

As my friends already know, I recently quit my trading job after a very short stint.  I'm not going to delve into the details here, but suffice it to say, I'm now utterly convinced that trading is not the right industry for me and that it's time to move on.  This brings me to the topic of rebranding and MBA admissions.

I am currently in the process of looking for new opportunities across a pretty wide spectrum.  It's not clear to me what will happen, but I still want to attend a top MBA program; that desire has not changed one bit.

I strongly believe that there are only 2 possible paths that will allow me to get into a top program.  The first path is that I would have to work at a "name-brand" financial firm, one that is respected by MBA adcom and has sent employees to those programs.  The alternative is for me to leave finance altogether and work in a "niche" area that will allow me to stand out in the highly competitive MBA applicant pool.  The former would require a combination of skill and luck while the latter would force me to totally rebrand myself. 

Although rebranding happens frequently in one's professional career, I'm not quite sure how open MBA adcom is to rebranding, especially when this occurs while the applicant is in his early-mid 30's.  Will it come across as disingenuous, a ploy to increase one's chances of getting in?  How open will adcom be to my rather non-linear resume?  Based on what I've seen, b-schools are much less forgiving of non-linear applicants, heavily favoring those who were on the "straight" path since college (ie, banking or consulting after college and then PE or corporate strategy). 

If I were to leave finance, I would definitely need to devise a coherent story that can somehow explain some of the decisions I've made.  I have a few ideas, but it's still a bit early since I'm not even applying this upcoming year.  Regardless, this problem has been weighing on me a lot lately.  I feel like I'm in a race against time itself since I'm not getting any younger, and my age will be a major liability with the top programs.  MBAOver30 thinks that age is overrated, but he's a former engineer looking to go into entrepreneurship, so I don't think his story is that relevant for someone such as myself.  Indeed, this is going to be quite tricky.   



  1. Rebranding can happen. MBAOver30 actually did it. He switched career fields in his mid 30s and it served him well in the application process. My advice is to start making moves that point you in the direction of your post MBA goal. It may not be 100% in line but if it's closer than what you were doing before it definitely helps the overall narrative.

    1. I was unaware that MBAOver30 switched careers shortly before he applied. That's definitely encouraging although MBAOver30 comes from a unique industry, so I'm not sure that my situation would be comparable to his. Nonetheless I sincerely hope that the age issue is overblown at the top b-schools. I have no problem taking out a massive loan to attend one of my top choice programs at the age of 35.

  2. Couldn't agree more with Cheetarah1980, I do not think that adcoms expect you to be where you want to be already, otherwise you would no need b-school. I think you need to present a feasible path with identifiable milestones, some of which you have already achieved, even if it is one step out of five.

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