SBC Scoop: When an MBA isn’t the next step

Admissions consulting can be an iterative process, rather than a descriptive formula. We always work closely with clients to determine his or her goals together. Sometimes during that process we discover that an MBA isn’t the immediate next step for every applicant.

Taylor came from a family of high achievers and was encouraged to attend a top ranked state school, excel in soccer, and volunteer extensively to serve his community. When we met it was clear he was mature, focused and accomplished. In his two year career at a large investment bank he had impressed his colleagues and managers with his detail oriented work, clear thinking and quick grasp of a strategic situation.
One of the first questions we explore with clients is about career goals. Taylor didn’t know what his were, exactly, so we spent some time exploring what he liked and disliked about his current job.

– Intellectually challenging
– Smart colleagues
– Compensation tied to results of team/company
– Clear goals and agendas
– Encouragement from management
– Satisfaction of being a high performer

– Long hours/ less time with friends and family
– Individual contributions of junior employees are low impact
– No decision making authority
– Competitive environment (sometimes stressful)
– Money and deals were not a passion

Taylor was considering going into management consulting after his MBA because he thought he could get the same intellectual challenge, but deal with different subject areas than deals and investing. As we delved a bit more into his passions, it was clear that over his years of volunteering he was passionate about helping the community. He had tutored kids in high school, worked for a mentoring organization in college, and was now running fundraisers for a local community center (in his spare time after 80 hours of work!)
Taylor felt real emotional satisfaction from improving the lives of youth who came from challenging backgrounds. He was grateful for his own supportive family and really enjoyed giving back. When I asked him if he had ever considered a career working for a community organization, he was shocked at the idea. Despite a long track record of volunteer involvement, the idea had literally never occurred to him to pursue it as a career.

Taylor took some time to think, and after contemplation realized that he was truly excited about the idea of pursuing community impact full time. He decided to leave his banking job and work for his local community center as a program director for a year while he explored the career options.

An MBA might be in Taylor’s future, but in the meantime he’s excited to spend his time directly impacting the lives of the young people in his town.

If your passions are similar to Taylor you may also enjoy reading a case study of a non-profit applicant. And if you’re not sure about pursuing an MBA right now, maybe it will help to read this applicant’s story at poets and quants.

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.


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