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Q. How to choose schools?

A. Despite the availability of information on the Internet, I still find Taiwanese students are still at a loss when choosing an MBA program.

There are various publications ranking business school, but I would suggest sticking with Business Week and the Financial Times. Also, I'd say the rankings (as perceived by recruiters) do not change with time.

Basically, I'd divide the US schools into three groups: 

    I. HBS/Stanford/Wharton/Kellogg/Columbia/MIT/Chicago 
    II. Berkeley, Duke, Cornell, Yale, UCLA, Tuck, Michigan, NYU, Virginia 
    III CMU/UNC/Emory/USC/Austin 

    On the bubble: Georgetown/Indiana/Olin 

    Finance Schools (If you want to work in Asia): 1. Wharton 2. Chicago 3.Columbia 4. NYU 5. MIT
 
There is no doubt in my mind that Wharton is the #1 school if you want to do Finance in Asia. It seems to me that half of the people in investment banking in HK are from Wharton.

Based on my observations, finance in Asia is very prestige driven so if your interest is in finance, your best option is to go to the "core" finance schools.

Consulting:
To get into consulting, shoot for groups I & II. I don't think consulting is as picky as investment banks. It seems to me that consulting firms value "raw intelligence" more than past experience. I am not saying that to work in IB you don't need to be smart, but not having prior experience in IB/finance is a definite liability.

Corporate (staying in the US):
I'd say that if your intention is to stay in the US, then almost any of the aforementioned schools would fit your needs. To stay in the US, you'd (most likely) need to accept a middle/back office role.

If the three career paths don't sound appealing to you, you gotta seriously reconsider why you want to spend so much money on an MBA.



Q. International students like us don't have legal authorization to work in the United States. I know many companies that rejects students who don't have an H-B(working visa). Therefore, I am wondering if it is difficult for a company to issue us an H-B to work in the United States the United States. Is it because of the complicated procedures or the expensive cost of the application fee?
A1. Depends on the company:
For small companies, it could be a money issue.

For larger companies, it could be just an administrative hassel.
And for other companies (such as those in the Midwest), it could be that either they are 1) unfamiliar with the process of sponsoring a H-1B 2)don't have a large pool of international professionals to draw from in the first place 3) a values issue--want to just hire Americans, drive American cars, blah, etc.
 
A2. One of the criteria of obtaining an H-1B is demonstrating to the INS (Immigration Naturalization Service) that there's a need that an American cannot fill. One way to prove this is that the company must continuously advertise the vacancy and prove that no qualified US citizen applied. This explains why it is easier for an international with a clear technical skill to gain approval as opposed to a "fuzzier" function, such as marketing or sales.
 
 

Q. Do B schools like Startup people?
 
A1.
I'd say it depends:
If you are an international student (as in undergrad overseas) and you've done start-up only professionally, it's difficult for schools to "benchmark" the quality of your experience.
 
If you are looking to work in a professional/corporate setting post-MBA, having just start-up experience won't help you and could work against you.
 
A2. If you look at companies like Google, Yahoo, eBay, etc, they were not started by MBAs. As an entrepreneur, I think what you need most is guts. You don't need a degree. MBA cannot teach you courage or vision.
 
 

Q. I am currently working on the preparation of R2 (Round 2) application for business school. I have a question regarding the Employment History in my application.

I have been working as a contractor at Adecco Company but they dispatched me to another foreign company for two and a half years as a marketing assistant.  Should I write Adecco as a full-time position or should I write the name of the foreign company that Adecco dispatched me to in the employment history?

In addition, do I need to write that I was a contractor at that company? I am afraid that it might not make a good impression on the school because many public sectors tend to think a contractor is in charge of supporting the important work instead of handling it.

Does the school require a formal job certification? As a contractor, I can only get a certificate from Adecco which states that I was dispatched to a foreign company. However, I will not be able to get any official documents which prove my work in the foreign company.

Many schools mention that “we’re more interested on the impact and good capabilities you have had in your work place than the name or status of your organization”. I am not comfortable with it. What can be happen if the documents I submitted are not consistent with the form I have filled out?  Does anyone have any advice/suggestions?

 
A1. I think you can say that you work for the IT company and not Adecco, then explain your situation.
 
A2. I don't think you need to indicate Adecco contractor on your resume. You should have a 1 sentence explanation on your employment history.
 
 

Q. Why male admissions are only less than 1/3 of female admissions?
 
A.
In all top business schools there is a huge imbalance of men vs. women. So, a qualified woman spplicant has an advantage in the sense that she adds diversity to a class. Taiwanese women have an additional advantage being international students so in a way she scores two "points," one for being a woman and another for being international.
 
I'd say to the Taiwanese men out there, this is just the reality of the situation so don't be upset at something you can't change.
 
Are Tw women more qualified than Tw men? Obviously, this is difficult to answer. Let me frame my answer this way, in the context of MBA applications I'd answer "yes." Let me identify a few reasons why I think this way. 
 
    1. Military. Most Tw men must fulfill their compulsory military service. This impacts the men in many ways. One example is that many men do a graduate degree to avoid immediate military service. The additional 2-3 years of graduate school hurt their career progress immensely because it pushes back when a Tw man can get meaningful full-time employment and because (in my opinion) a graduate degree obtained in Tw does not add to an applicant's credentials and CAN in fact hurt an applicant. (Blame this on the stupid Taiwanese universities that call every degree that the business school grants an "MBA." ) Add to this fact that many in Tw perceive "30" to be a ticking time bomb so rather than work a bit longer, many men feel that they have to leave the country before they turn 3-0 and rush into the MBA. 
 
    2. English. I have met many Tw women who can speak English at near-native fluency. I have not met many men who can do this. Based on my own data, I think the % of female applicants who get interviews and the % of male applicants who get interviews are actually similar. However, when we look at male applicants the number of admissions as a percentage of applicants who interviewed is significantlly lower than the percentage found in the female pool. This leads me to believe that the difference in English abilities is also a differentiating factor. I believe the degree of spoken English has a strong correlation with other attributes that are associated with admission success, such as the number of women vs. men who work at a multinational (MNC) and also degree of open-mindedness. 
 
    3. Degree of Westernization: This is often an overlooked part of the application especially among applicants to top schools. For a program outside of the top 15-20, an applicant can usually hide behind a phone interview, but for a top program where an alumni interview or worse yet, an adcom interview is required, there is no hiding. Not only is your English closely scrutinized, but your whole presence, including the way you dress, your hair style and how you carry yourself, is under a microscope.
 
Now for the last part of the question: what can Tw men do to better their chances?
 
I actually think it's not so bad to be a Tw man and let me explain why.
 
Don't think it's the boys vs the girls. It's not. After knowing some of the Tw girls that were admitted to top 15 programs, I would hate to be in the women's pool. In the women's pool, getting a 280 on the TOEFL would only be considered fair. Instead, focus on being the best male applicant in Taiwan.
 
Develop your own BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY.
 
Do less GMAT, more TOEFL
Instead of spending 12 months cramming for the GMAT and trying to push your score to 760, I'd instead focus on English.
 
Just think to yourself how many times you have seen someone asking "Is my TOEFL 243 enough?" on this board. You don't think the adcom knows that something fishy is happening in China and Taiwan? My point is how believable is a GMAT 700+ if the applicant can't get a good TOEFL score?
 
Imagine, if you are a male applicant and have a 280 on the TOEFL, you can essentially "cross your legs and twirl your mustache" (this has to be in Taiwanese for it to be funny) because you would stand out instantly from your peers.
 
So in a word, I'd say "English."
 
 

Q. Are you going to say that if i want to get in finance/consulting company, top 15 to top 20 may not be a good platform? The chance for students from top 15 to top 20 to get in is extremely hard? I do not understand the nature of finance/consulting, but shouldn't past working experience and industry specific take into consideration?
 
A.
Before I answer this, let me explain the consulting we are talking about. Consulting is of course a broad term. Among MBAs, consulting usually refers to Management/Strategy Consulting, which takes a "big picture" view of business, such as offering advice to "C-level" managers. The big global firms are McKinsey, BCG, Bain, AT Kearney, etc. But, there are also very respectable boutique firms that no one in Taiwan has heard about and who have a thriving practice. Even within this industry, there is an heirarchy.
 
The difference between these strategy firms vs. Big-4 firms (DTT, EY, KPMG, PwC) is that the big-4 firms offer more business process advice, how to streamline/improve operations. Some people from the big-4 firms may disagree, but for the most part that's how the industry is viewed.
 
There is also IT consulting. Some names that come to mind: IBM, EDS, JD Power, SAP, Oracle, etc., but for the most part they are very technical consulting and don't involve big-picture strategy.
 
So having this understanding in mind, let's address the initial questions.
 
Why is it difficult for graduates from non-top MBAs to enter strategy consulting? 
1) The business is about people. Clients pay a lot of money to get advice from these top firms. Most projects start at a minimum US$500,000, which will buy you at most just a few months worth of advice only. 
 
2) When the clients pay that kind of people, they want to see top people. One way to gauge "quality" is school. For the consulting firms, it is safe to hire HBS/MIT/Stanford/Wharton grads. After all if they **** up, what can you say? They are after all the best the world has to offer. (I am not saying this is right or fair, but that's how corporates think.) 
 
3) From the corporate view, I am paying ~US$150,000/year in salary alone. If I add in taxes, overhead, travel, the cost can easily double or more likely triple. So each newly graduated associate is costing me ~400,000-500,000. For that I better get the "best." 
 
4) Even though it may seem like there are a lot of consultants running around, the fact is that the openings are limited. For Asian students, the market is even tougher because consulting has had a limited history in Asia. So as a Taiwanese/international student, you realistically have few options. It wouldn't make any sense to have a Taiwanese student even if he/she went to Harvard to work out of the Boston or LA office. As a Taiwanese, your comparative advantage is Greater China.
 
I can give you some stats. In Taiwan, only McKinsey has a real presence. McK has hired between 6 to 8 new associates a year. I'd say roughly half of the hires are ABCs and half of the hires are native Taiwanese. So basically, that's about 3 to 4 spaces who for people who did their undergrads in Taiwan. By my estimates, there are about 60-75 Taiwan who attend a "top 15" MBA program per class. So from just a statistical point of view, it just gets harder and harder as you move away from the top 15.
 
5) This is not saying that somewhat attending Georgetown or any other school is not as smart as someone who attends a so-called top school. But the MBA offers a "signaling" effect. Perhaps McK will automatically invite someone who attends Stanford to a Rd 1 interview, whereas it may take a lot of effort from someone who is not at a core recruiting school to get McK's attention and secure even an invitation.
 
Re: Past working experience for consulting
 
This is not that important for consulting. Sure it's important to have professional experience, but it's not a critical factor. What is more important is pure brain power for consulting. Again, it's a people business.
1) Summer internships for Consulting is very rare. Spaces are very limited.
 
2) You can be from almost any background to enter consulting, so long as you can crack the case interview.
 
3) Previous professional experience can be helpful only if there is a specific need for it. If you have say an energy background, you might prove particularly helpful in Singapore/Middle East where there is a large energy industry. Same with tech manufacturing for Taiwan/China.
I hope this helps.


Q. What are top 15 schools? (preferably in order)

A. I don't think there's any order, but I would divide them into tiers.

General grouping:

Tier 1: Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Columbia, Chicago, MIT (Yes, I know there are others who will also dice up this section into even finer groups.)

Tier 2: Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, Cornell, Duke, Yale, Tuck, Darden, NYU

Tier 3: CMU, Austin, Emory, UNC, USC

Other for Consideration: Georgetown, Indiana

By top 15, I mean Tier 1 & Tier 2.

But, I think it depends on what you want to do and your career interest. My general rule is get into the best school possible and then if you are fortunate enough to get into multiple schools within the same tier, find the best fit.
 

Q. Summer Internships in Consulting: Why there are fewer positions in consulting

A.
I think this has a lot to do with the nature of a consultant's work. Most engagements are on-going projects that usually last beyond 8 -10 weeks, the length of a typical MBA internship. Whereas, in banking, an intern can make an immediate contribution, such as evaluate a company (equty research), put together a pitch (investment banking) or build a financial model.


Q. The way recruiting works differ with each consulting firm.

A.
Short answer is for McK, BCG & Bain, they rarely go outside of the top 15 and almost never go outside of top 20 (again, there are more than 20 schools for my "top 20"--refer to earlier post.)

Based on consultants I have met from these 3 firms over the past 11 years that I have been in Asia, I have yet to meet anyone who is not from a top 20 school from these three consulting firms.

I have met people who do not have MBAs who are consultants, but they usually worked their way up from a BA level and have a Master's degree in a non-business discipline from an elite university.
 

Q. I received a notification from Rice University. It stated that I am on the wait-list. Then I replied to the e-mail and asked them if there is something I can provide in order to improve my chances on admission to Rice University. They wrote me back and said that I could write an essay on “Why do I choose Rice University?”. However, I’ve mentioned that in the SOP and the interview. I am wondering how I can write a good essay. Are there any other options for me to get a better grade?A. Here's a simple checklist I have developed:

How to evaluate what may have gone wrong.

--Did you get an interview?

If you were WL, after you interviewed
a) you probably screwed up
b) you didn't screw up, but you weren't passionate enough about the school

If WL w/o interview, maybe you should ask for one. Offer to fly to the school if your budget permits. But before you fly over there, hire an English tutor.

--Did you meet the GMAT avg?
If yes, move to the next step.
If no, consider re-taking it. If 2 applicants are equal in EVERY respect, the school will take the one with the higher score.

--Re-read your goals essay
Was it convincing, logical and coherent?

If yes, pray and hope some one doesn't pay the deposit.
If no, re-write it and show stronger focus and clearer understanding of what an MBA can do for you.

--Salesmanship
Find a way to talk to the adcom. Don't waste your time on alumni or current students unless they can open a door to the admission office.



Q. About “diversity.”
 
A. I think the "Diversity" issue is worth further discussion.
 
The info that knob hill posted is most likely from an American alum and he's saying the "politically correct" thing.
 
From my experience, if you are a male, Asian, international applicant, there is nothing diverse about you. If you don't believe this, just check Chase Dream. Tell me that to an avg. American, he/she is able to distinguish between Asians. I don't think so.
 
For an Asian, international, male applicant, I'd say that you have to fight ingrained stereotypes.
 
A few that I have identified:
--Lack of soft skills
--Lack of cultural awareness
--Boring/nerdy/talks about work, work, work
--Not articulate
--Close-minded
--Doesn't know how to have fun
--One dimensional
The successful male applicants at top schools are usually more Westernized than their Taiwanese peers.