SgHama's MBA Dream

After 2 years of what if's and worrying about the finances... class of 2008 here I come!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Why I like Green more than Red

As promised, this blog entry addresses the Why Tuck question. It's actually an email response I sent to another T'08 admit who is trying to decide on where to go. My reasoning may not apply to all you guys out there who still have decisions to make but I hope that at least some of it is helpful.

The main areas I considered were career opportunities, brand, location, and fit.

First, in terms of career, I'm one of those guys that isn't really clear about what he wants. I'd like to keep my options open in consulting, finance (buyside in PE/VC, IM), and a general management rotation program. After doing the research I came to the conclusion that both schools are about the same for consulting and that Tuck has a slight edge in general management recruiting in the US. While Chicago is a finance mecca, PC/VC firms don't recruit on campus (except for maybe Harvard/Stanford) so it's going to be tough from either school but I feel that Tuck's proximity to Boston and its alumni network will make it a little easier if I choose to pursue that path. For IM, Chicago is the better school since they bring recruiters to campus, but then again, standing out against the former investment bankers/sell side analysts lining up for IM jobs at Chicago is going to be tough. If I was focused on what I wanted - e.g. IM - then Chicago would be a better choice because I would be able to take all the IM related courses in the first couple semesters in preparation for internship interviews, but because I am pretty undecided, I feel that I wouldn't be able to take advantage of the flexible curriculum. Not to mention having to go up against guys who will load up on relevant courses. While I would be able to select courses that cover a broad range of disciplines at Chicago, I think I would also open up myself to questions from recruiters - e.g. why didn't you focus on finance since you have a such a flexible curriculum, etc. I won't get that at Tuck because everyone has to go through the same courses.

In terms of brand recognition, Chicago trumps Tuck, especially internationally. It's a big risk for me to go with Tuck given that it's relatively unknown in Asia. However, I plan to get a job in the States immediately after graduation, so that made me more comfortable with the branding issue since both schools have good reps in the US. Chicago has a broader alumni network, but I've had mixed reviews about the effectiveness of the network. Tuck alums seem to be unanimously positive about the alumni network.

Finally, Tuck wins hands down for location and fit for me. This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in such a rural environment. The "fishbowl" environment ensures that I will have deeper relationships with my classmates compared to at a huge city like Chicago, and building lifelong friendships is something I really want to get out of bschool because 5-10 years down the road, that's all that's really left. If you factor in that Hyde Park isn't the most desirable of neighborhoods to live in and that students are scattered over downtown and take classes at both the Gleacher Center downtown and main Hyde Park building, I am pretty sure I will have a better time at Tuck overall. Plus it doesn't hurt that I love snowboarding and that the slopes are practically next door to Tuck, while the midwest is pretty much flat but with the same freeze your ass off weather. =)

To be honest, it took me a really long time to get over the whole brand name/reputation issue. Almost everybody I spoke to recommended that I go to Chicago (and the school does a fantastic job of selling career services and hosting a really slick website), but in the end I think I'll do alright at either school so I might as well go where I feel most comfortable. Another sacrifice we had to make was that my wife will probably not be able to work in Hanover, whereas her chances at Chicago would be much higher. However, we've spoken about it and she is ok about that.

Soooo, here's to drowning myself in green kool aid for the next 2 years. August can't come around soon enough!