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vik218 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
29 Jan 2011
Posted:
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Post Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:28 am
Hi Alex,

I was fortunate enough to receive admission into a few programs and just had a quick question for you:

1) Berkeley Full-Time
2) Cornell Full-Time
3) UCLA Full-Time
4) Chicago Booth (Weekend)

By background, I am a CA with experience from Big 4 accounting. I have been doing M&A in Toronto for the past 2.5 years at a boutique IB shop, and want to transition into the HF / IM space in US. As you can imagine, the HF industry in Toronto is very small and there are only a few funds around, so I feel coming to the US through the MBA route may make sense.

Of the schools above, I was inclined towards Booth Weekend program due to the brand name and was hoping to tap into the alumni base/other avenues and network my butt off to get in to a fund. Location isn't a preference for me either, and I would not only target the large funds like SAC, Wellington, etc., but would be just as happy with a small to mid-sized entrepreneurial one that's reputable where I can learn the business and grow within the industry. I realize I will probably have to leave my job in Toronto a year or so into the program and commit to a job search full-time since the HF/IM hiring is mostly off-cycle and not on-campus anyway, whereas with the other schools, I will be able to at least land an internship somewhere as the recruiting process is very structured and firms come to you. Through this route, I may also get an internship with a BB bank and then would have to make the transition to HF as an experienced hire if I were to go to the full-time programs which as you know can be very difficult.

What are your thoughts on the above programs please and which one do you feel makes the most sense in your opinion for me. It would help me immensely to decide.

Thanks so much!!

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MBAApply Master | Next Rank: 500 Posts Default Avatar
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Post Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:05 am
vik218 wrote:
Hi Alex,

I was fortunate enough to receive admission into a few programs and just had a quick question for you:

1) Berkeley Full-Time
2) Cornell Full-Time
3) UCLA Full-Time
4) Chicago Booth (Weekend)

By background, I am a CA with experience from Big 4 accounting. I have been doing M&A in Toronto for the past 2.5 years at a boutique IB shop, and want to transition into the HF / IM space in US. As you can imagine, the HF industry in Toronto is very small and there are only a few funds around, so I feel coming to the US through the MBA route may make sense.

Of the schools above, I was inclined towards Booth Weekend program due to the brand name and was hoping to tap into the alumni base/other avenues and network my butt off to get in to a fund. Location isn't a preference for me either, and I would not only target the large funds like SAC, Wellington, etc., but would be just as happy with a small to mid-sized entrepreneurial one that's reputable where I can learn the business and grow within the industry. I realize I will probably have to leave my job in Toronto a year or so into the program and commit to a job search full-time since the HF/IM hiring is mostly off-cycle and not on-campus anyway, whereas with the other schools, I will be able to at least land an internship somewhere as the recruiting process is very structured and firms come to you. Through this route, I may also get an internship with a BB bank and then would have to make the transition to HF as an experienced hire if I were to go to the full-time programs which as you know can be very difficult.

What are your thoughts on the above programs please and which one do you feel makes the most sense in your opinion for me. It would help me immensely to decide.

Thanks so much!!
Unless you're an American citizen or green card holder, the part-time option is going to be tough when it comes to recruiting in the US.

Again, unless you're a US citizen or you have a green card, the primary hurdle for you is immigration.

As such, the full-time programs tend to be a better transition because of that - you're on a student visa (F1), living in the US full-time, and the visa gives you 12 months of employment status (most people use 2-3 months for their summer internship, and then the remainder for their post-MBA job - this really helps employers because of the delay in getting the H1b visa).

The thing is, unless you have some truly invaluable skillset or insider expertise in a particular industry that an HF or IM is interested in, you'll have a tough time getting an offer as a non-resident (since again because of the delays of getting a work visa).

Finally, these firms are small - and they don't have the resources or history of processing work visas like the big banks, consulting firms, and IT services firms do. So it's really hit and miss as to whether they're willing to hire you even if you're a full-time student - especially if you are an outsider without a super specific skillset (quant specialty) or inside knowledge of a particular industry vertical that the fund happens to be interested in.

Just know that going in, even if you go to a full-time program. But again, as hard as the transition to getting a job in the US may be for a foreigner, it's "less difficult" when you're a full-time student in the US.

So here's what I suggest:

Go to one of the full-time programs. Based on your choices, Cornell is going to be your best bet if you're looking to stay in finance. UCLA and Haas are very west coast based, and the majority of recruiting is focused on tech and services based on the west coast. Hedge funds and IM are mostly on the east coast, and Cornell has more access to that (not to mention it's easier and cheaper to be flying in/out of Ithaca to NYC than taking red eyes all the time from the west coast).

From there, keep realistic expectations about finance post-MBA. You may have to work at a large institution at first (not necessarily IBD, but maybe research, IM, etc within a global bank) - simply because these firms have the experience, know how and willingness to sponsor internationals for work visas. The process can be incredibly byzantine and frustrating at times, which is why so many small firms shy away from it - they may process 1 or 2 a year at most (and oftentimes none), whereas say Citibank may process hundreds of work visas for their international employees. Again, HFs and IMs may jump through additional hoops for you if you have something truly invaluable to offer, but otherwise you may have to suck it up and work at a big firm for a while before making the jump (and again, even if you were to work at a big firm, it's still a lot easier to do so as a full-time student where you're a US resident on a visa than as a non-resident part-time student).

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Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
www.mbaapply.com

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