From the Family Business to Business School (and Back)

Awkward Family Photo - Summer“You’re going back to the family business?” 

If you’re planning to attend business school with the ultimate intent of working for your family’s business, some of your friends will probably wonder why you would consider pursuing an MBA when they feel that a clear path has already been (very well) paved for you with the power, privilege, and prestige of your family’s business handed to you on a silver platter. Some will envy you, some will resent you, and even more will wonder if you really need an MBA, while you yourself doubt how stating this post-MBA goal will affect your odds of admission.

Interestingly, articulating your personal story towards convince your friends of this decision may also be the same formula towards strengthening your case to getting admitted to your target schools. Let’s examine three ways you can best explain to the Admissions Committee your plans to go from your family’s business to business school, and back:

1) Win Admiration from Peers
Displaying your competence through your strong academic and job accomplishments, demonstrating your character through your work ethic and values, or showcasing how you have gotten involved with interesting and worthwhile activities will help show you as someone who can make it on their own. In turn, this display of independence – that you don’t completely rely on your family to succeed – will work  towards winning admiration and respect from your peers, and even your subordinates.

Imagine, sometime in the near future (perhaps your late 20’s or early 30’s), being introduced as the new General Manager of your family’s business. Some whispers from your employees would surely be, “She’s the daughter of the boss, that’s why…” From your side, you would want them to also recognize how you have also excelled outside of the family business environment, whether it is at another company, or towards a specific social cause or interest. Similarly, explaining this desire to find your own success, independent of your family, will be a great way to explain your MBA aspirations to the Admissions Committee.

2) Acknowledge Your Good Fortune
In discussing your history in relation to your family’s business, you would do well to be grateful for the circumstances you have been blessed with. This gratitude will serve as a good point to highlight the knowledge, exposure and network you are equipped with – attractive qualities that can benefit your future business school community, as well.

Mentioning specifics about your family’s business to demonstrate its scale and potential impact not only shows your awareness and interest in the business, but also helps the Admissions Committee realize the impact you can make in the business world. Providing details on the products this company provides, or on its business model, will also help them visualize what you are involved with now, and how it can influence you as a future MBA.

3) Articulate Your Passion
Tell the Admissions Committee what you are excited to do after business school, such as leading the entry into a new market, launching a product line, building a distribution channel, or formulating new company plans. You can also share the challenges your family’s business is currently facing – perhaps it is the need to modernize its systems and processes, or its struggle with the more personal aspects of succession planning or even family politics. Showing your focus and drive to achieve these specific post-MBA objectives – and explaining how attending business school will help you attain these goals – will further demonstrate your substance and maturity.

Relate these future plans and current challenges to your need for an MBA at your specific school of interest by identifying exactly what you aim to gain at their program and how you plan to bring it back to your family’s business. Doing this will help convince the Admission Committee that you are the right fit for their program and deserving of a spot.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

How Much Does the Prestige of Your Grad School Matter?

We make a living helping applicants get into the world’s most competitive business schools, law schools, and medical schools. So, it’s fair to say that applicants’ desire to get into the world’s top graduate schools is what puts food on our plates at night. (And those plates carry all sorts of food; the Veritas Prep team includes devout vegans, die-hard carnivores, and everyone in between.) But today we’re going to offer what may seem like a slightly contrary stance, one that some applicants need to hear this week after getting getting rejected or waitlisted by a top grad school: Your whole career and life are NOT determined by what grad school you attend!

Whoa, did I just write that? I can see the traffic to dropping as I finish this very sentence. Fans are deserting our Facebook page by the dozen. Our Twitter feed has become a veritable social media ghost town. I think I just saw an ASCII-rendered tumbleweed roll by. But it needs to be said: A top-tier MBA, JD, or MD can significantly improve your career prospects, but how successful you will be in life still depends on YOU, more than anything.

Where’s all this coming from? It was prompted by a question from a very thoughtful applicant. he has a very specific, realistic goal for what he wants to do after business school, and he’s currently making plans to help achieve that goal (including applying to business school this coming year). He wants to go into investment banking, and is carefully considering what schools will give him a realistic shot at landing at a blue-chip firm such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley. He basically had two questions: “How hard will it be to get a blue-chip banking job at a ‘top-twenty-ish’ MBA program, and will a not-so-prestigious MBA hurt me my career prospects after my first post-MBA job?”

The first question is actually one that some applicants don’t ask enough. Sadly, every year some students enter business school or law school assuming that there will be plenty of job opportunities with a certain firm or within a specific industry, only to find out that recruiters from that company/industry don’t recruit much from their school. So, it’s good that he asked. In his case, he’s considering a very good lower-ranked school that actually does send some grads to Wall Street every year.

The difference between that school and a top-ten school is usually more in the number of jobs that those firms hand out on campus. For instance, Goldman Sachs may make dozens of offers at HBS, but more like half a dozen at this particular school (which happens to be a much smaller program, too). So, he may have to hustle to get one of those jobs, but he seems so strong that we bet he will be able to, if he goes there.

Now, for the second part of his question: Assuming you go to a less prestigious school and get your foot in the door at a high-caliber firm, then the rest is really up to you. That’s what many grad school applicants miss: How you’ll do in your career over the long-term depends far more on how you perform and who you make connections with, rather than on what school name is on your resume. Of course, a “better” school gives you access to a “better” alumni network, which may always help, but even that matters less than what experiences you gain and what accomplishments you can start to rack up in the first several years out of business school.

In this way, the working world and the admissions world are not radically different: What undergrad school you went to and what company you work for now certainly matter, but what’s even more important is what impact you’ve had on the company and the community around you. That’s a far better predictor of success in your career… and in life, for that matter!

For more MBA admissions tips and resources, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with one of our admissions experts today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

MIT Sloan Tech Treks Begin This Week

MIT Sloan Guide
This week more than 150 MIT Sloan MBA students will kick off the annual rite of passage known as “Tech Treks,” visiting companies in Boston, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. While they will mostly hit tech-related companies (as the name of the trips implies), many of the companies they’ll visit are heavily consumer-oriented, such as Apple and Facebook.

Since some recruiters (especially those at smaller firms) may be reluctant to make the trip to Cambridge to visit MIT Sloan, these trips help bridge the gap by bringing the students right to the companies. Of course, these students know that the job market still looks very soft for new MBA grads, but the Tech Treks give them a head start in the recruiting process, allowing them to network with MIT Sloan alumni and other people at their target employers.

Tech Treks started out in the mid 1990s, when a group of MIT Sloan students organized a job-hunting and networking visit to Silicon Valley. Since then the trips have expanded, now covering most major markets in the U.S. where there’s a critical mass of tech-related companies. What started with a handful of students in the first year has grown to include almost 20% of the MIT Sloan student body.

To learn more about Sloan, download our MIT Sloan Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Sloan or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Recruiter Demand for MBA Grads Remains Strong

This month the Graduate Management Admission Council released a report showing that demand for business school graduate remains strong even as the economy shows signs of weakness.

The report, produced by GMAC in partnership with the MBA Career Services Council and European Foundation for Management Development, shows 6% growth in the percentage of employers making offers to MBA grads, and an 11% increase in the average number of hires by each hiring company.

The results for compensation growth also looked encouraging. Three-quarters of employers reported that they expect to increase the annual base salary of 2008 grads vs. last year’s hiring class. The projected starting base salary for all business school graduates is $89,621, about 4% more than last year. Not surprisingly, consulting (over $111,000) and finance (over $110,000) offer the highest average total compensation.

What does this mean for you? Most of all, it suggests you should stay the course. No radical changes to the hiring outlook suggest that you, if you’ve been planning to apply for business school, don’t stop now. If you haven’t been planning on doing so, then these numbers probably won’t change your mind.

It will be interesting to see what next year’s numbers look like, and what impact the overall economy has to the number of people applying to business school in 2008-2009.