Category Archives: General

Alumni Gift Launches NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program

New York University Stern School of Business has announced the establishment of The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program with a $1 million gift from technology executive and alumnus David Ko and his wife Jennifer Ko. With …

NYU Stern entrepreneurshipNew York University Stern School of Business has announced the establishment of The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program with a $1 million gift from technology executive and alumnus David Ko and his wife Jennifer Ko.

With this gift, Stern MBAs will have the opportunity to apply to this new immersion program in lieu of a traditional summer internship and benefit from financial support, mentorship, workshops and access to NYC and Silicon Valley tech companies.

The launch of this program coincides with David’s appointment to Stern’s Board of Overseers and extends the commitment to education that he and his wife initiated in 2012 with the establishment of the Jennifer and David Y. Ko Family Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship at NYU Stern.

“We are grateful to the Ko family for their generosity and to David for his decision to get more deeply engaged with his alma mater and help us continue creating innovative new student experiences,” said Peter Henry, dean of NYU Stern.

“The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program is an extraordinary opportunity for MBA students who come to Stern to set their entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams in motion.”

Incoming full-time MBA students will apply in Fall 2016 for consideration to become the first NYU Stern Venture Fellows. The program will start in Summer 2017 under the administration of Stern’s W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab and Office of Student Engagement.

It will provide each Fellow with a $10,000 stipend, a prototyping fee, workspace and access to a multi-week summer program featuring a “Silicon Valley Immersion Week” that includes company visits and access to VCs, mentors and Stern alumni.  Fellows will continue to receive mentorship support in their second year at Stern and can opt to earn course credit through a faculty-supervised independent study in which they can focus on their start up.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help Stern MBAs transform their ideas into viable businesses through the resources that will be available to them from the NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program,” said Ko.  “My goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with early, firsthand access to leaders in the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley tech communities and help them get a jumpstart.”

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Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. Ross is also a close-knit community and …

Michigan Ross MBA admissions

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals.

Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog is an excellent resource for tips to approach these essay questions, and gives you a window into what the admissions committee is looking for.

Essay One: What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross permitted either a professional or personal example for this essay. This year, Ross Admissions Director Soojin Kwon explains: “The motivation for adding “outside of your professional life” (to Q1, which asks what you’re most proud of) was to get to glimpse into the personal side of you. We’ll already have your resume and rec letter to give us a sense of your professional life. Besides, would you want to read thousands of essays about the time someone was a project manager and completed the project on time and under budget? (I hope you said “no”). Me either. (I’m going to assume you said “no”).”

Some of the personal attributes most valued at Ross include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular moment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background.

For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped how you approach your life and decisions.

Take note that this essay is really about getting to know you as a person, not as a collection of accomplishments. Your values and personal life will ideally shine through, as you explain what is most important to you and why.

“Why” is a crucial part of this essay, along with how your values have impacted your life. Finally, make sure that your values, as expressed in this essay, are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 250 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

This essay is straightforward and Ross is not looking for extra explanation. Ideally you can describe your career path in a sentence or two and use the remainder of the space to elaborate.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real.

The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. If Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, this is a great place to describe how you will use them.

Optional Statement: This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Take it directly from the Ross admissions director: “The optional essay should only be used if there’s something in your background that requires a brief explanation. It’s not the place to submit an essay you wrote for another school, or to tell us how much you love Ross.”

Think about anything that may raise questions while reviewing a resume, transcript or recommendations. Typically the kinds of gaps that raise questions are significant gaps in employment (more than a few months), anything below a C on your college transcript (particularly in quantitative coursework) and low test scores.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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Why Do You Want to Go to B-School?

You’re going to be asked that question a lot over the next several months, so you need to come up with a good answer.  Actually, several different good answers, each tailored for distinct constituencies. MBA …

why business schoolYou’re going to be asked that question a lot over the next several months, so you need to come up with a good answer.  Actually, several different good answers, each tailored for distinct constituencies.

MBA Admissions Committees: Show them that you know appreciate the value of learning opportunities and have taken advantage of them.  Illustrate how the MBA program will be a better place to develop your skills and further your interests than your current job or even your likely next job would be.

Colleagues/Managers: There are many firms where young professionals regularly exit to attend MBA programs, and a fresh crop of MBAs cycle in every fall.  In other workplaces, some colleagues might view an exit as “giving up on the team.” You don’t want your MBA admission to cast a pall over your final months in your current job.

If you explain your MBA as an opportunity to prepare yourself for opportunities a decade or two down the road—rather than as a route to get a better job than you could get coming from your current position—they may be more supportive.

The Doubters: Last year, a couple of my clients recounted how alumni interviewers probed deeply on why they were applying, even going so far as to say to an entrepreneurially inclined individual, “You don’t need an MBA to do what you want to do.”

Candidates who may want to stay in the same field (or return to the same firm) after graduation and those who want to enter the not-for-profit or government sectors often hear the same stuff.  My would-be-entrepreneur candidate was prepared: she countered with a list of a half dozen world-renowned entrepreneurs from this particular MBA program.

The Haters: There are people who don’t see the value of business school at all (shocking, I know).  After all, business people usually don’t need accreditation like doctors, lawyers and some other professionals.  With these folks, you should be prepared to talk about why this will not just be a “two-year vacation” for you.

So, dear readers, how many of these scenarios have you already come up against?

Image credit: inertia NC (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Does an MBA Pay Off? Ask Paul Ollinger

Sometimes, applying to business school can seem like such an uphill slog that you really need to disconnect from the process from time to time in order to recharge and remember that there are other people in …

Paul Ollinger book cover

Sometimes, applying to business school can seem like such an uphill slog that you really need to disconnect from the process from time to time in order to recharge and remember that there are other people in your life that you’ve probably been neglecting, and other interesting things you could be doing in addition to brainstorming MBA essays and filling in data forms.

If you’re looking for something to occupy that down time, you should check out the new book by Tuck School of Business grad Paul Ollinger, “You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools.” 

Ollinger has graciously allowed us to post some excerpts of his book on the blog. Here, we’re sharing a chapter that will answer a burning question for many professionals wondering whether going to business school is a wise financial decision.

Chapter 5: Does An MBA Pay Off?

Me: Hell yes it pays off.

You: Is that a guarantee?

Me: Yeah, man. Haven’t you been paying attention?

You: So it will absolutely, positively have a positive financial ROI?

Me: Well… While attaining an MBA will move you down the road to enlightenment, getting an MBA is still really, really expensive. You might logically ask yourself, “What’s the ROI on enlightenment?” Excellent question!

Now you’re thinking like an MBA. Let’s do the math. For our purposes here, we’ll assume that you are going to HBS (hey, you deserve it).

Investment:

  • HBS first year tuition for Class of 2017 = $61,225
  • HBS books, materials, fees = $7,655
  • Total for first year = $68,88011 We will assume that tuition and fees increase 5% for year two, so that:
  • Total tuition and fees for second year = $72,324
  • Two year total = $141,204

Yikes! That’s a lot of dough. And like the guy selling knives on late night TV says, “But wait—there’s more!” The average HBS grad walks out with about $84,000 in student debt, and that debt costs money. The price is the interest that you pay until you pay it off.

If you have the means, you can pay it off more quickly, but let’s assume it takes you a decade to knock it all out:

  •  Student loan interest: 6% * $84,000 * 10 yrs = approx. $27,908
  • $141k in tuition/fees + $28k in interest = $169,000

And we’re still not done. Because you won’t be working during your two years at HBS you have to factor in your lost wages in the calculation. Let’s say you make $85,000/year at your good preMBA job.

Including your foregone income of $170,000, the total cost of getting a Harvard MBA (or one similar) is about $339,000. Holy crap. Enlightenment is expensive! Is it really worth $339,000?

Enlightenment is hard to put an exact number on, but wage growth isn’t. And this is where HBS has a dynamite return on average (we’ll get back to the assumptions we’re making a little later). If you go to HBS, you will not only get a bunch of crazy smart friends and a closet full of crimson hoodies, you’ll also get on average a very juicy pay bump and an accelerated career path.

Here’s what that might look like:

Return:

  • Base pay bump from $85,000 to $140,000
  • Signing bonus: $25,000
  • Summer internship income: $20,000
  • Career accelerator (4% raises v. 2% raises)

Let’s take a look at what that pay bump and career accelerator look like in action. Your MBA begins paying off in the form of increased income in your first year out of school. You make $55,000 more than you would have without it, and life is good. But wait—there’s more!

Because HBS has put you on an accelerated career path (and the steeper income growth trajectory that comes with it), your pay grows at a faster rate than it would have sans-MBA. So that annual pay differential continues growing as you relish your MBAness and continue to kick business world ass.

It is in this stream of MBA-powered increased income that we answer the question, “Does an MBA pay off?” You can see that over your first 10 years out of HBS, your income will be $750k more than it would have been had you never pursued that MBA. Using our friend NPV (Net Present Value), we then measure how much that stream of income is worth today, relative to the $369k that the MBA costs.

While the NPV is less than the $750k, and varies depending on your weighted average cost of capital, in both scenarios, an HBS MBA is a homerun, positive ROI fiesta de dinero! By the way, weighted average cost-of-capital is one of those great things you’ll learn about at business school.

And this is just for the first 10 years out of HBS. You will likely work for another decade or two beyond this, and in those prime earning years, that pay differential will—theoretically—be even more pronounced.

ON THE OTHER HAND… There are some really meaningful and impactful assumptions we’re making in the model above. And, to paraphrase the monetary philosopher Ol’ Dirty Bastard, assumptions’ll “bust yer ass.” So we should be aware of them, lest our assuming asses get busted.

First, remember that the average first year income for HBS alumni includes very non-average people making crazy money in consulting, investment banking, hedge funds and the like. If you are not committed to a career in one of these fields (or if you’re in these fields but below the mean earners in those fields), your income will likely be lower-to-much-lower.

This doesn’t mean that your HBS degree will have a negative ROI over the long run, but it just might take longer to break even. That’s worth keeping in mind. Second, these reported incomes are skewed way high by alumni living in New York, London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, i.e. the most expensive cities in the world. So while they may be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, they may also be paying $4,000/month (or lots more) to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

You shouldn’t look at these average incomes and think, “I am going to live like a king on $175,000/year in Tulsa, OK!” ‘Cuz that’s probably not where you’re going to find these juicy pay packages. Third, you are a growing and evolving human being. Your interests, desires and passions will change over time. The career you find intriguing right out of business school might not float your boat 5, 10 or 15 years later.

Maybe you just decide that you’re not interested in doing [fill in the name of career] any more, and that you really want to [work with kids / do something for the developing world / become a stand-up comedian]. Or maybe the grind of an 80+ hour work week is something you can tolerate when you’re young and single but not when you’re older, married and raising children.

Or maybe some health issues present themselves and you need to hit “pause” on your career to deal with them. In any of these scenarios, the juicy comp packages and steepened earning curves pretty much fly out the window.

Fourth, the model above represents an uninterrupted, positive career trajectory. Due to the vicissitudes of the market, the economy and personal wackness, careers often do not maintain a smooth progression upward and to the right. If historical economic trends continue, you should expect some kind of ugly macroeconomic tornado to blow through every seven years or so.

Whether it’s dot-com bubbles busting, global mortgages imploding or Adam Smith’s invisible hand getting caught in the cookie jar, bad stuff that is way out of your control happens, and it’s going to affect your career. You get out of school and everything goes dandy for two years. Then in year three, the world explodes and you get fired/laid-off/made redundant from your job.

Maybe you saw it coming or maybe you didn’t, but that doesn’t really matter as you getting canned is the result of an industry-wide meltdown and no one—I mean no one—in your industry is hiring. So you sit on the sidelines for a whole year and log a goose-egg in the old income column. Meanwhile, you still got those big ol’ student loans hanging over your head, with the interest meter still running.

An MBA isn’t a Harry Potter invisibility cloak that hides you from nuclear macroeconomic meltdown. It also won’t give you x-ray vision or the ability to fly. Further, some people just aren’t down for the whole business school experience itself. The long hours, grueling workload and late night stress-busting parties don’t suit everyone’s lifestyle.

Prospective business school students should do their due diligence to make sure they know what they are getting into. Some MBA programs saddle their graduates with massive piles of debt without providing an income that enables the graduate to battle that debt monster.

A degree from a school ranked #50 might provide you with a leg up, but it will not do the same thing for a career that a degree from Wharton or Kellogg would. Even from the top schools, an MBA is a powerful credential, but it is only potential financial energy until you turn it into debt-slashing income through year after year of hard work.

Net: don’t pursue business school unless you can pay for it outright or you’re committed to paying back your loans. Enter the process with eyes wide open—these loans are big numbers that grow while you sleep. Their very existence will exacerbate the stress of any fluctuations in your career. Banishing them from your post-grad life might mean sticking with a job you don’t love for a lot longer than you otherwise would have…assuming that’s even within your control.

You may also be interested in:

Paul Ollinger Says “You Should Totally Get an MBA” 

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5 Ways to Prepare for the 1st Year of Business School

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Throughout the business school application process, MBA candidates spend ample time filling out applications, writing essays and even honing interview skills to successfully …

networking at business school
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Throughout the business school application process, MBA candidates spend ample time filling out applications, writing essays and even honing interview skills to successfully gain admittance to their institution of choice. But it is equally important to prepare for the first year of coursework, which will have a long-reaching impact on your job prospects.

Whether you’re just starting to complete applications or you are about to embark on your first days as an MBA student, here are five ways to successfully prepare for your first year of business school.

Attend all orientations and meet-and-greets: I can’t overemphasize the importance of choosing a school that instantly gives you a sense of community. One of the best ways to make the program feel like a perfect fit is to attend as many social mixers and orientation events that are planned for incoming students.

Welcome Weekend and other preterm social events are prime opportunities to begin connecting with your future cohorts. If you’ve participated in the MBA forums or followed other MBA applicants’ blogs, then you may already have a head start on building relationships with your class.

By spending time on campus weeks before the semester begins, you’ll also have time to familiarize yourself with the many resources available to students. This will give you an additional comfort level and allow you to adapt more quickly and focus your attention on other exciting opportunities that come your way.

If you live halfway around the world and aren’t able to come to campus early, find out if your program hosts a Facebook group for your class so you can start connecting with fellow students. If it doesn’t, offer to help set one up.

In the highly competitive MBA world, it’s common for first semester students to go through periods of self doubt. But in reality, the introvert has a natural advantage in making allies at b-schools. Extroverts who need to be heard will naturally seek out good, thoughtful listeners.

When introverts think about building their friendships and network during b-school, they should take the long view. While extroverts may make the strongest first impressions on their classmates, it’s the introverts who often make meaningful and lasting connections with less effort. Besides, many of the introvert’s skills – among them team building and problem-solving – are key to successful businesses.

Maintain and build upon your existing network: The process of connecting with your new cohorts is the first step in building your existing network. But don’t forget to tend to your existing network once you’re admitted, though.

If you’ve stayed in touch with your favorite college professor or know anyone in your network who has gone to business school, this is the ideal time to reconnect and inform them of your own MBA plans. Ask for their advice on how to maximize your business school experience, and let them know your professional goals and the companies you’re interested in. You never know when a mutual connection can give you a leg up in recruiting.

Prepare for recruiting season: The summer before business school is a great time to make a list of interesting companies that recruit at your campus. Research contacts at your target companies to see if you can arrange an informational interview.

If you revised your resume as part of your MBA application, now it’s time to go back and make sure the professional version of your resume is up-to-date. Take a look at your social media accounts, including your LinkedIn profile, to ensure each represents your passions and abilities in a professional way.

Once you have your shortlist in hand, set up a Google alert with each company name so that you’ll automatically receive news updates that will provide great material for your interviews with recruiters.

Try not to get too attached to one company, though. Competition is fierce, and recruiters will interview dozens of equally bright and qualified students for just a few available spots.

Brush up on quantitative skills: A fair number of soon-to-be first-year students lack some basic quantitative skills. Many top MBA programs offer math camps for accepted students during the summer as a refresher of critical concepts.

Review the course syllabus online and purchase textbooks in advance, if you can. If you have any weak spots in this area, sign up for the math camp early so that you’re ready to hit the ground running once classes starts.

A growing number of students – even those with a finance background – have realized that these additional learning opportunities provide valuable time to network and bond with their future classmates before the rush of classes and recruiting hit in the fall.

• Ramp up your reading habits: First-year business school students read hundreds of pages a week to prepare for class discussions. If you haven’t had time to read anything longer than a Wall Street Journal article in the past couple years, now is the time to ease back into the practice to minimize fatigue.

If you don’t like to read, that’s all the more reason to start exercising those latent muscles now. An added bonus of extra reading is that you’ll likely become a much more interesting MBA student and potential summer hire to recruiters as a result.

Image credit: Flickr user Richard Foster (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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#TBT I’ve Joined Forces with Beat The GMAT!

I love revisiting these moments during our history when SBC forged partnerships with other leaders in the MBA admissions industry, such as this valuable and enduring relationship I have with Beat the GMAT. More than a decade …

SBC 15th anniversary

I love revisiting these moments during our history when SBC forged partnerships with other leaders in the MBA admissions industry, such as this valuable and enduring relationship I have with Beat the GMAT.

More than a decade ago, way back in Spring 2006, I shared this news on the blog:

I am happy to announce that I will be fielding questions related to MBA admissions on the Beat The GMAT! forum.

Beat The GMAT! was born over a year ago when Eric, the creator, decided to take the GMAT and blog his entire experience. The blog received such great feedback that he identified an opportunity to create a free GMAT prep community. The website is now maintained entirely by ads and donations, and all profits are given back to the community in the form of scholarships and services.

I think it is a great idea, and a valuable resource and am excited to be a part of this project. If I can answer any questions for you, please feel free to ask them on the forum, so the extended community can benefit from the information. And be sure to check on the Beat The GMAT! blog and forum for some valuable MBA prep information.

***

I’m just as excited by what we’re accomplishing here every day at SBC as I was in 2001, and I can’t wait to see how we grow and continue to help others reach their highest educational and professional goals over the next 15 years!

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