December 9, 2010

Fresh LBS 2010 employment report - Full Time & Internships

LBS Career Services have just posted the most recent employment report that covers MBA2010 Full Time statistics and MBA2011 internships from the last summer. You can download the full report from here. Enjoy!

November 16, 2010

So You Want to Go to Business School

November 14, 2010

Message from Discouraged and Despaired

One of my favourite websites for case interview preparation is by Victor Chang. Here is a very interesting post Victor has recently added, which is a response to a person that struggles to get through consulting interviews. I thought that this could be an eye opening perspective for prospective and 1st year MBAs. The answer is given for both undergraduates and MBAs, but reflects very well the hurdles - emotional and intellectual of this process.

Question: For a very long time, I have thought that I am at the top tier of consulting candidates, however it seems that reality has proven me wrong. I applied for the big 3 and didn't get an interview for any of them.  Subsequently, I applied for various other smaller consulting firms and international ones such as L.E.K. and Oliver Wyman. I received 5 offers for interviews so far out of 13 that I have heard back (still waiting for many others).  However, I was not invited back for a second round for almost all of them. At the interviews, I always felt that I did a good job and had a very good conversation going on with the interviewers.  When I follow up to ask for feedback, the consultants either did not reply or told me I was fine. I don't know what is going wrong. What should I do?  Also, as it seems that I am not going to make it through the campus recruiting process, I am considering applying for off cycle recruiting later on in the year. How would I proceed on to doing that after I have gotten rejected from these firms now?  Thank you for your time and help!

Victor's answer:
This is a complicated one. So let me dissect your history one step at a time.

First, I do not know of your academic background or work experiences. But the fact that you did not get an interview from the top 3 is due to one of two reasons. Either you academic credentials or work experiences were not impressive enough (by their standards) OR your cover letter didn't stand out enough.
The cover letter is very, very, very important. Did I mention the cover letter is very important? It usually takes me 2 - 4 hours to write a good cover letter excluding research and networking time.

For a lot more info on how to write a good cover letter, read this blog post:

So GETTING the interview is a function of 1) your resume, 2) your cover letter. So to solve that problem, make sure the information on your resume is competitive and the cover letter is extremely strong. NEXT, lets talk about the situations where you DID get the 1st round interview, but did NOT get the 2nd round interview. In these cases, it means you did not do well on the case. It does not matter if you had a nice conversation if you did not do well on the case. There are some people I've interviewed, that I really enjoy talking to. I would love to hang out with them. And they were not qualified, so I dinged them. The fact that nobody will give you any feedback, is hard to interpret. Interviews don't like to have what they perceive as confrontational conversation. So unfortunately, you can't read too much into that reaction.

So my next question is did you properly prepare?
Did you go through all the video tutorials on my website and did you go through the Look Over My Shoulder program?

If you did not learn how to do cases and you did not practice the cases via Look Over My Shoulder or with a practice partner, then it is impossible to interpret this outcome.
If you did NOT prepare properly, it's entirely possible you HAVE the raw talent but you never developed that talent into a skill, and turn that skill into a consistent habit. This is the big problem with not preparing or not preparing early enough, if things don't go as planned, you keep wondering "what if?" Now, I don't know if you prepared or not, but lets say your prepared like crazy, you used the Look Over My Shoulder program to do some simulated practice sessions, and you did everything possible to get good at cases and you STILL got dinged. Then my conclusion, and you probably don't want to hear this, is that perhaps consulting is not a good fit for you. I did an entire video on this topic and wrote an entire blog post on it as well. I'll point you to those for additional information.

And to the extent that consulting isn't a good fit, I would encourage you not to feel too disappointed about it.
With some years of perspective behind me, I am firm believer one should manage their career to take advantage of 1) their strengths, 2) their passions/interests, or 3) both. There were 1 or 2 of my colleagues at McKinsey who basically quit after 6 months. They were good enough to get through the recruiting process, but they had to force themselves through it. It wasn't natural for them, it wasn't enjoyable for them, and they hated the work.

A simple test to determine if you will like the job is to see if you enjoy the interview process -- yes enjoy the interview process. So to the extend you've considered all the other possibilities, it may just be possible that consulting isn't the best fit for you.
I doubt you will feel this way in the moment, but in several years you may find it was the best thing to happen to you (I did say it may take a few years to feel this way!). Here's why. Assuming you did everything in your control, it suggests you ought find a field that plays to your strengths -- a career that you are 10 times more likely to excel in once you are in it. Consulting is not "everything".

There are so many DIFFERENT ways to be successful in life and career it's ridiculous. Unfortunately, the on campus recruiting experience is so distorted. I remember feeling like there were only two jobs in the world available -- being a consultant or being an investment banker. That's ridiculously untrue (but it sure feels that way at the time because that's who comes to recruit on campus).
So depending on your specific situation, you might want to consider the various options that I suggested above.

And on a personal note, when I went through my recruiting process I really wanted to go into investment banking--not consulting.
When other kids in high school went to summer camp, I want to Investment Banker camp on Wall Street (I'm serious). All of my friends who got investment banking offers, were tutored on how investment banking works by me. I put lots of my friends in college into retirement accounts--explaining the tax advantages. Basically, I thought of myself as Mr. Investment Banking. BUT, despite this interest in investment banking, I could NOT get past round 1 at ANY investment bank. I got dinged by Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, and more. Not a single 2nd round. Originally, I was very disappointed because I had my heart set on banking. I started wondering what was wrong with me? Was I going to get a job? (Perhaps this sounds familiar) Basically, the bankers somehow all figured out that I was not meant to be a banker. To this day, I still don't know how they made this determination, but that's what they concluded. And a week or two later, the consulting interviews started. And within days, I was getting first rounds, second rounds, flying around the country for final rounds, and getting tons of offers. After I got offers from my top 2 firms, I started cancelling final rounds so that others would more offers available to those who were still interviewing.

The year I was hired at McKinsey, they hired 100 Business Analysts globally. 2 years later, they asked 90 of the 100 to go get an MBA or get some more experience elsewhere before coming back to the firm.
10 of the 100 people that remained were promoted to Associate and moved on to the partnership track. I was one of those 10 people -- in the top 10% of McKinsey for my start "class" globally. My point in sharing all this is, all of this started with me getting rejected by ALL the investment banks.

Turns out consulting was totally up my alley. In my work today with my CEO clients where I serve as their confidant and advisor, they are essentially giving me a case interview every day! I have over a dozen phone calls each week that start something along these lines: "Victor, Our sales got hammered in Q3, the sale pipeline in Q4 is eroding, our margins are down 2% this quarter, what should we do?" (Does this sound familiar?) For the charity, I'm very fond of I advise the founder on their marketing strategy, increasing product sales, re-segmenting their markets, and making changes to their product portfolio (sound familiar?)

In short, I LOVE this stuff. I do it for work. I do it for charity. I do it for fun. It's so "me".
Well, today it's obvious to me that consulting was a good fit for me. But at the time, I had NO idea this would be true. I thought I was supposed to be banker. And guess what? Although it was a HUGE blow to my ego that I got rejected by all the investment banks, I'm REALLY GLAD they did. Because it gave me great certainty that Investment Banking was NOT for me -- so I focused on my 2nd choice, consulting... and never looked back.

So IF you've truly given it your all towards getting into consulting (did your homework, practiced like crazy, followed all the advice and tips I've shared), and you STILL did not get in... maybe, just maybe you might want to take that as a sign to look elsewhere.
In the moment, I know it feels like crap. But taking the decade long view, it might be a brilliant strategic move for your career.

But if you didn't follow all my advice, and you didn't do the hard job of really preparing early and often, then you have a difficult choice to make. Do you start the process all over again, this time preparing thoroughly? (Keeping in mind that trying to recruit off-cycle after you did not do well during on-campus recruiting is quite literally about 10 times more time consuming). Or do you look towards your second choice career options, always wondering if maybe you really were good enough to get into consulting, but didn't prepare enough.

And my advice for those who are going through the recruiting process for the first time. Do everything in your control to prepare properly the FIRST time, as it is so much harder, and emotionally troubling to try and do it right the second time.
Thanks, -Victor Cheng

September 15, 2010

HBS 2+2 Program Hits Lowest Acceptance Rate - Accepted Admissions Almanac -

Interesting observation:

HBS 2+2 Program Hits Lowest Acceptance Rate - Accepted Admissions Almanac -

10 Types of MBA Forum Participants

Here is a very interesting post I came across recently, and wanted to share with all those crawling the MBA forums. I found it on Knewton Blog by Knewton GMAT Prep:

Many b-school applicants supplement their GMAT study time with avid participation in one (or more!) of the GMAT/MBA forums on the interwebs. Here at Knewton, we’re pretty big fans too, and in all our trolling, we’ve noticed some distinctive types of forum participants.

Our observations may not be (entirely) scientific, but all you MBA forum junkies are bound to recognize some familiar types:

1. The Score-Keeper: He’s obsessed with keeping score. The forum is his living room and the admissions process his kid’s birthday party. He considers it an achievement if you or anyone you know gets in. Its his way of controlling a process which feels a little mysterious and overwhelming to him. One question: When is Score-Keeper going to get an MBA himself and stop keeping score?

Typical Post: “Let me know if you’re DG (dinged), WL (waitlisted) or ADMT (admitted). Include your stats and interview Q’s. Everyone, PLEASE CHECK THE ROLL CALL FOR UPDATES. And pls PM me if your status changes. Anyone want to call about the Wharton waitlist?”

2. The Instigator: He’s responsible for the longest threads, the nastiest spats, and the latest round of sock-puppeting accusations. He’s been kicked off the forum three times, resurrected twice as many, and may or may not be that guy from the monthly Ivy League mixer who always lists the full name of every school he attended on his name-tag (and the degree achieved there). A long time ago, this grinch was sad, lonely and bewildered–until he discovered the world of b-school admissions where he now reigns in his fortress of provocation.

Typical Post: “I’m sorry, but __________ School of Business has NEVER been part of the M7, the T6, or the G5. And those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t even bother applying.”

3. The Moderator: As a former educator or class president, the Moderator diffuses forum conflict, defends those who are picked on by the Instigator, and, above all, wants to be seen as mature and even-tempered. Unfortunately, there’s no prize for congeniality, and Moderators are easy prey for Instigators who like to kick people off their maturity high horse… Watch for this fight when it comes.

Typical Post: “That’s simply not true, HedgeFundDude. M&AGal needs to decide where she wants to go, where she feels she will truly thrive, regardless of your biases. ______ school has the better finance network but ______may have the stronger brand in Asia.”

4. The Sorority Girl: He or she sometimes overlaps with the Score Keeper, but really, it’s her job to plan the museum excursions, movie sessions, pub crawls, study breaks, meetups, freak-out sessions, victory dances, and commiseration gatherings. Sorority Girl makes sure the MBA forum is fun and friendly and that everyone gets some face-to-face time.

Typical Post: “Everyone wear red so we can find each other in the Citrus Room!”

5. The Representative: The rep works for an admissions consultancy and sees the MBA forum as a business opportunity and every forum member as a potential client. The rep is personable, friendly and always mature. He disguises his rep status at first but comes with a quiver full of stats (yield, scores, rates) to demonstrate his wisdom about the process right before he drops a link to his online services and testimonials. The Instigator may try to attack the Rep, but the Rep’s lack of emotional investment in the process makes it difficult to stir any drama up.

Typical Post: “Looks like a challenging year for entrepreneurs and non-traditional applicants. As a representative of Equity Admissions Incorporated, I can say that I’m impressed but not surprised. For more information on how YOU can better brand yourself, check us out at!”

6. The Speculator: He takes the data from the Score-Keeper and plugs it through his special algorithm which magically produces all the answers to your biggest questions (how many interview slots are left, when acceptances will stop trickling, what percent of applicants have less than 3 years of work experience, etc). The catch: He’s usually wrong.

Typical Post: “Based on data from GMATSociety, ClubMBA, and impeccable sources along both coasts, there are 57 interview slots left for the New York region and 26 for the Bay area. See graph attached. Will be happy to recalibrate at next 5 PM EST release.”

7. The Intellectual: He’s not so much interested in who gets in as how the admissions process reflects our society. Either that or he’s writing an ethnography of Wall Street. (Which, by the way, exists! Check out Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street by Karen Ho. One of the first academic texts about the culture of investment banking.)

Typical Post: “Do we think this trend reflects a new age of adult adolescence? What do we think about this culture of ‘smartness’ and how it reinforces our sense of entitlement?”

8. The Spigot of Random Questions: He has a disturbing or miraculous (depending on how you see it) ability to miss the whole point of a discussion. Concerns like brand, prestige, popularity, and politics have no place in this strange, child-like consciousness.

Typical Post: “Are people in business school generally attractive? Which school has the best student center? Do you think Brown will start an MBA program? Also, can someone tell me what it means to “waive” my right to review a recommendation? Thanks!”

9. The Artist: The blank page stirs him. He churns out lists, parodies, and limericks at the rate of four or five posts a day and joins the ranks of thousands who use online spaces to create unexpected pockets of art. He’d be better off channeling his creativity into a blog/website of his own, but somehow it’s the forum and its unappreciative audience that gets his juices flowing.

Typical Post: “Click here to check out my MBA song on YouTube!”

10. The Silent Presence: The forum attracts him, but he refuses to participate. He lives in the fear that someone from his new company or b-school will rescind their offer because of an inappropriate post which will be tracked back to him.

Typical Post: “?”

September 10, 2010

Hey, where are you going?

A cute joke I heard lately:

The American businessman was at the pier of a small South Pacific Island village when a small proa with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small proa was a dorrado several large grouper. The American complimented the Islander on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Islander replied, "Only a little while."

The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Islander said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a late afternoon nap with my wife, Helia, stroll into the village each evening where I sip rum and play guitar with my friends, I have a full and busy life."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small fishing village and move to Australia, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The South Seas fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "15-20 years."
"But what then?"
The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions, really? Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a late afternoon nap with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings here you could sip rum and play your guitar with your friends."

Good luck to all MBA2013 applicants :)

August 25, 2010

International Student Experience Part 1: Culture Shock

Dedicated to all MBA2012 all over the world (well... maybe except the Americans) :)
Make sure you watch all the 4 parts.

June 7, 2010

- Accepted Admissions Almanac - Words of Wisdom to Graduating MBAs

Although my blog targets mainly MBA applicants, I find it very useful to look beyond the b-school in planning future career path:

- Accepted Admissions Almanac - Words of Wisdom to Graduating MBAs

April 26, 2010

Case Study: Running a business during the MBA

As we quickly approach the end of our first year at London Business School, I decided to ask a colleague student to reflect on the MBA experience from a very unique point of view - entrepreneurship. Unlike many other MBA students, Guy runs his own business alongside the demanding studies. He started an online business few months before joining the MBA programme called DocoArt, that enables customers worldwide to upload personal photos and have them converted to handmade oil paintings on canvas (or simply buy a stunning reproduction).

1. LBS is known for its strength in the finance education. Is it also a place for future entrepreneurs?

Finance education is indeed a very strong aspect of the school, yet to be ranked number one in the world requires diversity of strengths. The entrepreneurship resources at LBS are truly unique and provide an amazing springboard for entrepreneurs at any stage. For me, the access to world class faculty members, the supporting community of students, alumni network and investors are amazing resources to benefit and get inspired from.

Moreover, the financial education is extremely important especially for entrepreneurs that many times have great idea but fail to have the financial understanding of their businesses. My view on my small business has changed tremendously since I first stepped into the MBA programme.

2. Could you highlight some of the changes you did in your business as a result of insights from your studies?

Although I established DocoArt just before coming to London Business School, many changes have been done in by business based on the things I’ve learned in class. For example, I managed to improve the marketing strategy that we had using ideas I first encountered in the Marketing Core class, such as customer segmentation, targeting and positioning.

With new tools from the Corporate Finance classes, I can now plan proper leverage of future projects or the company as a whole. Every class I have taken and every student, professor or alum I have spoken with enhanced my knowledge and business view on my venture or any future ventures I will have.

3. MBA course is usually very intense. How do you find time to work on your venture?

Time management is one of the most important ideas I have learnt and improved throughout the course. The MBA course is indeed intense, and thus forces you how to plan your time with great care. You learn how to be more structured, how to reduce ‘noise’ and how to focus on tasks with high priority – skills that are highly important for all post-MBA jobs.

4. Is being located in London helps you to promote your business?

Absolutely! The UK market is one of the main targets of DocoArt. London itself is an international business centre that provides you with access to financial, marketing and operational resources, along with networking and opportunities to enter new markets. The density of businesses from the creative industries in London is just another evidence for all these benefits.

5. Are there any specific electives that you are taking or about to take that can help entrepreneurs make better business decisions?

London Business School offers a range of electives for entrepreneurs that shed light on all aspects of starting and running a venture. I plan to take the Financing an Entrepreneurial Business and Managing a Growing Business electives. I believe these will contribute the most to the current state of DocoArt.

6. What would be your advice for prospective students who are interested in an MBA to become entrepreneurs?

Doing the MBA will increase significantly the chances of your future business to become a success. You will gain well rounded business knowledge, earn a great network of students, alumni and faculty to support you. Finally it will open your mind to explore new ideas and opportunities which were not available for you in the pre-MBA setting.

January 9, 2010

What a Super-Saturday!

Today we have a Super-Saturday. It's a day of "fun and games" with the career services team and professionals from the industries we're applying to that will push us even further to be ready for our recruitment process. Our CVs and cover letters will be reviewed one more time, and we'll have some more mock interviews just to make sure we are at the top of our potential.

But for me, this Saturday became even more SUPER. I've decided to google "pinchthebubble" and found out that my post about selecting a school for MBA got a BOB (Best Of Blogging) reward by Clear-Admit.

January 6, 2010

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