The MBA career search and life as a Chicago Booth MBA – check out the latest episode of Admissions Straight Talk.
We are joined today by the co-founders of TransparentMBA, a free career data resource for prospective and current MBA students.
Introducing Mitch Kirby, Alyssa Jaffee, and Kevin Marvinac, co-founders of TransparentMBA and students at Chicago Booth. [0:35]
Mitch graduated from Princeton with a degree in molecular biology and then worked in the Health Practice at Booz. Alyssa went to the U of Wisconsin, studying Marketing and Spanish and then worked for the Advisory Board in marketing and sales for about 5 years. And Kevin, after earning his bachelors in Finance and Latin American Studies at Notre Dame, pursued his love of wine and worked for the Gallo Winery. They all met at Chicago Booth, and we’re going to hear the rest of their story from them. Welcome!
What is Transparent MBA? [1:25]
It’s a way for MBA students to anonymously share compensation and satisfaction information for firms that recruit MBAs.
Their roles [1:52]
Mitch– product developer/coder
Alyssa– works with the corporations
Kevin– user side
How did Transparent MBA come into being? [2:40]
Mitch: I wanted to understand career options better, and felt there was a lack of MBA-specific data in the space. The data from the school’s career services wasn’t specific enough (by company), and other options (like glassdoor) aren’t MBA-specific.
What need does Transparent MBA fill that other services don’t? [4:20]
It’s specific to the needs of MBAs and allows more specific company-based searches than school information, which often doesn’t provide details on bonuses, etc.
When did they launch, how have they grown [5:23]
Transparent MBA launched in 2015 with just a few students. By Feb of 2016, they were outside Booth, with 35 schools and thousands of participants.
Is there any danger that with small sample sizes, people are retrieving more anecdotal evidence than data? [7:00]
They’re actually trying to combat a reliance on anecdotal info by giving people the opportunity to get more information from another source, rather than just relying on something they heard.
You can log in and compare industries. Later there will be more filters and tools so you can filter by school, grad year, etc. [8:30]
Is the site useful to pre-MBAs? Or is it more for MBA grads? [10:25]
Pre-MBAs can use it now through the prospective user portal. It can be helpful to see what their future options will be. In the future, it could potentially be a tool to help compare schools.
Role Booth played in helping develop Transparent MBA? [11:25]
Mitch took a course in coding and building web applications, which gave him the skills to develop the project. He also met his cofounders at Booth. And they’re participating in the New Venture Challenge, which is helping them think through challenges.
The New Venture Competition- how does it work? [12:30]
There are 30 teams, of which 10 will make the finals and 1 will win. They pitch their venture to investors. It makes them think harder about everything they’re doing.
The next stage is the Acceptance Pitch on June 2, to see if they make the finals. They’re competing for $70K in funding.
[Update: Since the recording of this podcast, the Transparent MBA team won a $90K prize by winning first place in Booth’s New Venture Challenge Competition!]
Any investors yet? [13:40]
They’re self-funded, but talking to investors.
Plans to monetize? [14:00]
Right now they’re focusing on developing the user experience, but there are corporations that are interested in the job search community.
Mitch and Alyssa are graduating this spring, while Kevin is finishing his first year. How has Booth met their expectations? [15:20]
Kevin: The flexibility. He decided to decelerate, and change to part-time student status in order to work on Transparent MBA – Booth gives him this option. He found the meaty classes during his first year really rewarding.
Alyssa: The amazing professors and network. Booth teaches you to dream bigger and think beyond what you thought you could accomplish.
Mitch: It’s an open community where you have the opportunity to pursue whatever you’re thinking about, and you have the support to do it.
Did they intend to pursue entrepreneurship when they came to Booth? [18:10]
They had a bit of the bug coming in!
Plans for next year? [19:00]
Kevin will take classes part time and work fulltime for Transparent MBA. Mitch and Alyssa are evaluating based on how the competition goes. Alyssa may transition to the venture capital side.
Anything they’d change about Booth? [20:10]
More time! There are so many opportunities to take advantage of and so many people to meet.
Have their professors been helpful in getting Transparent MBA off the ground? [20:50]
Yes! They have profs who meet with them on a weekly basis and provide advice on pitching, introductions to their own networks, etc. They treat them as mentees.
Was there any time they thought it wouldn’t work? [21:50]
While Mitch was coding Transparent MBA, he wasn’t sure, but once it launched, it took off!
What will they miss about b-school? [23:00]
Constantly being surrounded by smart, driven, fun people.
Advice for Booth applicants: [23:20]
Kevin: Have a plan, think about what you want, and don’t be swayed by the herd mentality.
Mitch: Every decision you make is personal, and you know what’s best – understand your motivations.
Alyssa: Dream bigger: you can do anything you set your mind to.
Their vision for Transparent MBA [25:40]
They want to create a map of every career – where people go after their first positions, how their careers develop, etc. In other words, a long-term career decision-making tool.
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