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Career Changer - Would like some input/suggestions

Figure out where you wish to apply
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Greetings,

First, I apologize if this is in the wrong forum-section. I couldn't decide between here or the 'MBA App Process' subsection. I would be happy to move it if necessary.

Also, I'll attempt to write this without being a book. But I can't make any promises.

I'm reaching out to the forum for some guidance on a 'soul-searching' problem I'm having. I'm want to go to MBA school starting in the fall of 2014 and are currently studying for the GMAT. On the side, I'm starting to work out my 'life-picture', my 'future-self', whatever you wish to call it. It's the answer to the enduring question, "what do you want to do post MBA?".

I'm struggling a bit because I'm not exactly sure where I want to go. Currently, I'm a 'business analyst/ERP developer' focused on data warehousing/reporting across multiple business groups (Finance, distribution, sales, etc). I like what I do and I would like to get more into the data analytics and decision-making world (I like to call this the transition from 'IT' side to the 'Business' side) and I know that an MBA would help me make that career change.

Where I'm struggling in this effort is to decide what my core focus of going to an MBA school should be. Should I look into analytics and Brand Management? Or analytics and Finance?(Both of which interest me greatly) Or something else? I have my knack and love of data as my root/trunk, but I don't know what direction I should grow my branches. In solving this conundrum, I have the feeling that the initial questions are those like "what interests you?" Or, "in what field would you like to work in?". The first reaction answer I have to those questions are, "everything except general management consulting" and "see previous answer". I vacillate between fields almost weekly (currently, it's analytic finance after doing some Booth research).

The question I pose to the forum is as follows, but I welcome any other input/guidance thought helpful. Particularly any advice from those who worked in IT pre-MBA and later used their degree to move into other, non-IT areas.

Question: For those who have used (or are going to use) an MBA as a career-changing vehicle, how did you decide on what concentration/industry/job role/etc you wanted to pursue post-MBA?

Thank you for your time! I really look forward to your opinions and thoughts and hopefully this can start a discussion that would later help others.

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by machichi » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:57 am
Armada0023 wrote:Question: For those who have used (or are going to use) an MBA as a career-changing vehicle, how did you decide on what concentration/industry/job role/etc you wanted to pursue post-MBA?

Thank you for your time! I really look forward to your opinions and thoughts and hopefully this can start a discussion that would later help others.
Armada,

Love your writing style and your explanation. You're gonna have good luck with the admissions process, I can already tell.

I'm not a career changer, but I am a soul searcher like you and I'm looking to the MBA experience to solidify the elusive Next Step in My Life. It's good that you're starting this process now because you'll have lots of time to explore (internally and externally). My first recommendation is to "interview" friends in other sectors or fields. Take them out to lunch and find out what they do. From there, their minds will start running to and fro and they'll be able to hook you up with their boss or coworker for another "Life Date". The best way to find out what you're interested in is to talk to people and hear what they're doing and then get set up with potential Future You.

I'm going to throw a plug in for Yale because I think the integrated curriculum would really work for you. I'm biased since I'm likely attending there in the fall, but courses aren't silo-ed so you get to explore the themes of interest to you in all of your core classes. I'm pretty jazzed about it.

At the end of the day you need to realize two things: 1) you can have all the doubt and uncertainty that a normal career switcher will have but 2) your application needs to tell a coherent story about what you want to accomplish with an MBA. So the point of your soul searching is to come up with something compelling but realize that you're probably going to use your MBA to explore different ideas. That said, supposedly, people who come in with clear goals get more from their MBA experience, but you sound like the kind of person who's going to have lots of Big Questions and maybe even a couple career changes.

Good luck!
Blogging about the MBA application process. Because I need to do something with all this bschool energy.
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by Armada0023 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:38 am
machichi wrote:Love your writing style and your explanation. You're gonna have good luck with the admissions process, I can already tell.
Thank you! I love your blog and it does mean a lot to hear that coming from someone has prestigious in the GMAT/MBA community as yourself!
machichi wrote:My first recommendation is to "interview" friends in other sectors or fields. Take them out to lunch and find out what they do. From there, their minds will start running to and fro and they'll be able to hook you up with their boss or coworker for another "Life Date". The best way to find out what you're interested in is to talk to people and hear what they're doing and then get set up with potential Future You.
This is a wonderful suggestion. While I'm timid to do that around my company (they don't know of my master plan just yet) I was tossing the idea around of contacting a target school and see if they could connect me with a alumni who's in that line of work. I did put out some feelers in my own network but, sadly, they're all IT/Engineering people (Go figure!).
machichi wrote:I'm going to throw a plug in for Yale because I think the integrated curriculum would really work for you. I'm biased since I'm likely attending there in the fall, but courses aren't silo-ed so you get to explore the themes of interest to you in all of your core classes. I'm pretty jazzed about it.
This is something that really has my eye while working on a list of target schools (subject to change per GMAT results, of course). I love the concept of having a (somewhat) blank canvas and being given diverse palette from which to paint my future. I was not aware that Yale had such a program so I will be sure to take a good look into it. Thank you for pointing that out!
machichi wrote:At the end of the day you need to realize two things: 1) you can have all the doubt and uncertainty that a normal career switcher will have but 2) your application needs to tell a coherent story about what you want to accomplish with an MBA. So the point of your soul searching is to come up with something compelling but realize that you're probably going to use your MBA to explore different ideas. That said, supposedly, people who come in with clear goals get more from their MBA experience, but you sound like the kind of person who's going to have lots of Big Questions and maybe even a couple career changes.

Here, I think you really hit it home. I would imagine that a sizable percentage of career-switching MBA admits go into a school having an idea of what they want to do, but end up following a different path. Uncertainty is, as you said, something that a normal career switcher will have and it's something I'm comfortable with having for the moment. I do have time to think about these things and do a lot more research. Thankfully, I'm finding that with each concentration a school offers, there's a wealth of career information along with it.

Thank you for your wisdom, Machichi!

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by machichi » Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:19 pm
Armada0023 wrote:Thank you! I love your blog and it does mean a lot to hear that coming from someone has prestigious in the GMAT/MBA community as yourself!
Haha, I think you're confusing prestige with ubiquity. I appreciate the compliment though. :)
Armada0023 wrote:Here, I think you really hit it home. I would imagine that a sizable percentage of career-switching MBA admits go into a school having an idea of what they want to do, but end up following a different path. Uncertainty is, as you said, something that a normal career switcher will have and it's something I'm comfortable with having for the moment. I do have time to think about these things and do a lot more research. Thankfully, I'm finding that with each concentration a school offers, there's a wealth of career information along with it.

Thank you for your wisdom, Machichi!
I do hope you'll keep us posted on your GMAT score and your list of schools. You're in a good place to put in great R1 apps next year.

All the best!

M
Blogging about the MBA application process. Because I need to do something with all this bschool energy.
https://www.mbabreakaway.com/
Recent post: July 12, "Summer"