From the monthly archives:

January 2011

A year ago many MBA students were busy working on their “Plan Bs.” In other words, their alternate career prospects if their MBAs didn’t land them an entry-level investment banking job or consulting job. It was referred to as a “parallel career path” by one Ivy League business school. In plain language, it simply means taking a stepping stone job before breaking into your preferred career.

But today, many students no longer need these alternate plans. According to a survey of 89 business schools conducted by the MBA Career Services Council (CSC), new hiring for MBAs picked up slightly in 2010 and is likely to increase in even more in 2011. And the traditional fields of finance and consulting are expected to lead the field.

Seventy percent of business schools polled by CSC in December said full-time MBA job postings were up, according to an article in BusinessWeek. Another survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the people who run the GMAT exams, found that 64% of employers plan to hire new MBAs in 2011, up 4% from 2010.

Class of 2011 MBAs may face less competition for jobs, too, says Elena Bajic, chief executive of Ivy Exec, a recruiting company focused on MBA job placement. That’s because there’s a smaller pool of entry-level MBA positions.

Campus recruiting for finance and consulting positions is up, which is a good sign for spring and summer job placements and internships. 65% of schools surveyed by CSC reported an increase in recruiting.

However, the market for newly-mined MBAs seems to be shifting somewhat. Wealth management is the booming new sector, according to Bajic. While investment banking seems to have lost some of its attractiveness, as measured by both job postings and candidate interest, she says.

MBA students at both the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and at Wharton are quoted as saying sales and trading positions in investment banking are still few and far between.

What’s your opinion? Have we seen the worst in terms of investment banking job reductions? Will prospects for new MBAs continue to improve in 2011? Add your comments below.

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Why would a vice-president at BMO Capital Markets leave his comfortable investment banking job in Britain to pursue an MBA overseas? Well, it turns out, for a number of reasons.

Adam Janikowski was betting on the trend toward increased globalization when he signed up to pursue his MBA at INSEAD, in France, one of the world’s leading graduate business schools. In a guest article for the Globe and Mail, Janikowski says he realized how working with other countries and cultures will be a key factor in coming decades, particularly in his specialty, the global petroleum industry.

Rather than apply to well-respected North American schools such as Stanford, Harvard, he looked into top-tier European Schools, such as IMD, INSEAD, and London Business School to find a school that would prepare him for this global future.

Among the many benefits that Janikowski mentions for studying overseas, include:

1) Exposure to new people and idea. The ability to work with other cultures will be a defining strength of business leaders in the future.

2) Forced exposure to learning another language. Immersing yourself in another culture forces you to become fluent. Janikowski has even started on his third language, Spanish.

3) Opportunity value. INSEAD takes a traditional two-year MBA program and compresses it into an intense one-year format. This appeal to Janikowski given that he had given up full-time employment, and income, to pursue his MBA.

4) Other international opportunities. INSEAD has a campus located in Singapore, giving students and graduates the opportunity to study in Asia and learn more about a region that will only be growing in importance over the next few decades.

He’s still in the early stages of his program, but Janikowski says that so far, INSEAD has lived up to his expectations. He has met a unique group of people from around the world who are all eager to learn from each other, and undoubtedly make international contacts that will serve them well in their investment banking careers.

What about you? Have you ever considered studying or working overseas? Add your comments below.

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There’s one kind of interview question for a potential investment banking job that can open up a Pandora’s Box full of problems, unless you are prepared. That’s the message from Bradley CVs Ltd., in a recent article.

What are they? Behavioral questions that are intended to reveal how you might act in a future situation.

First, you must learn to spot them. Behavioral questions are open-ended and invite you to describe an experience or event in which you were involved. They often begin with phrases such as…
– Tell me about the time when…
– Describe a time when…
– Give me an example of when you…
– Please discuss a time when you…

The interviewer is trying to see how well your past performance in a situation will translate into the position they are trying to fill today. They may have a specific set of skills or behaviors they are looking for. Often, the interviewer will follow up with questions such as, “tell me what steps you took” or “what was your thinking behind your decisions?”

The responses you provide give the interviewer a snapshot how you are likely to behave in a new role. It also reveals character traits and integrity because, as Bradley’s points out, if you’ve made up a story or fudged any details, your story will easily fall apart under close questioning.

There are almost an unlimited number of behavioral questions that you could face in an interview. So it’s difficult to prepare for all of them. However, there are a few tricks to keep in mind.

First, by reading the job description carefully, you can probably surmise the types of skills and experience the employer is looking for. You should select achievements and events that closely match these criteria, and prepare your stories accordingly. In choosing the most relevant events, have plenty of factual evidence handy to back up your behavioral story. You should also research the company’s background to identify what behavioral characteristics might be most valued with respect to its mission.

Bradley’s gives a 4-step approach to structuring your stories so they are succinct and effective:
– Set the scene by outlining the situation or problem
– Tell how you became involved and why
– Explain what you did to help resolve the problem or improve things
– Conclude by revealing what the outcome was, either measured in numerical facts or by describing the results

One more piece of advice: in addition to the stories that relate to the skills in your resume, they suggest you have ready-made examples demonstrating your strengths in:

– How you relate to people and communicate well (example: Describe a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or colleague)
– How you accomplished something significant (example: Describe an accomplishment from the past year that you are proud of)
– How well you can prioritize things (example: Tell us about a situation when you had a lot of deadlines at the same time and the steps you took to complete the tasks on time)
– How you solve problems (Describe a time when you were creative in solving a problem)

What about you? Have you fielded behavioral questions in an investment banking job  interview? How did you prepare for them? Add your comments below.

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Responding Better in Investment Banking Job Interviews

January 10, 2011

It’s not enough to be ready for certain questions in your investment banking job interview. The nuances of how you answer those questions can make all the difference to a skilled interviewer. That’s the view of Sam Geist, a recruitment consultant interviewed by the Globe and Mail. Geist shared his list of top 10 interview […]

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Lie Detector Tests for Investment Banking Jobs?

January 3, 2011

Thinking about polishing the wording on your investment banking job resume? Now, you may have more cause for being careful about stepping over the line and fudging your background. A former FBI agent who spent her career grilling career criminals and mobsters is now hawking her services in the hunt for the next Bernie Madoff or […]

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