Part of an ongoing series “MBA in Finance: Forget It?”
Given the weakness in investment banking, hedge funds, and financial services in general how does LBS react to applicants who say that want an MBA to enter IB, PE, or a related field that has been devastated by the economic downturn? Is the reaction, “What planet have you been on?” or are you willing to consider those applicants because you feel the market for these skills will come back in a couple of years. Would you like to know that IB et.al. is the primary goal? Would you like to see a secondary goal? Is your reaction different if the applicant is coming from IB or a related field as opposed to someone seeking the MBA to change careers?
Zoe McLoughlin, London Business School’s Events and Marketing Manager, responds:
We look at an applicant’s past experience and consider how realistic their goals are, adding in the impact of existing and expected future market conditions. If a candidate is looking to switch careers into areas that have suffered in the recent downturn e.g. Investment Banking, but shows an awareness of the difficulties they may face, either in terms of gaps in their skill set and experience or available opportunities, then we may still consider their application favourably. Candidates looking to make a fundamental transition across sectors, who show little evidence of knowledge or research into their desired industry and how an MBA will help them get there, will be viewed less favourably.
At the moment, evidence of a thought-out Plan B would also strengthen their case (and this is the path that many MBA students have had to take, at schools all around the world). This would apply regardless of whether or not candidates have prior experience in the finance sector, or are career-switchers. Taking the broader view, the market is likely to look different for the MBA 2011 class than it does for the MBA 2009 class, and so we would not penalise anyone for being optimistic about a well thought-out move into finance.
As background information on how London Business School is dealing with the downturn – we are investing in our Career Services Team; offering more career and professional skills coaching to our students giving them the potential to stand out in a very competitive MBA graduate market; focussing on developing existing and new relationships with a broader range of recruiters from a wide range of industries; leveraging the relationships our full community of alumni, students, faculty and staff have with potential employers…and making the most of our London location – a city with a vast array of representation in many different business sectors.