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by Vault Consulting Editors | January 11, 2008

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In the most recent issue of Consulting Magazine, Patricia Hubbell draws up a New Year's resolution for consultants with MBA dreams (or considerations, even). She claims that it's never too early (or late) to start planning ahead for the arduous business school application process, and attempts to offer up a rousing checklist for how to go about doing so. Hubbell makes the case that consultants should plan ahead for the MBA application process by establishing "solid experiences and relationships that help you to grow and mature professionally and personally," and in that way will help ensure entrance into a top business school. Among her suggestions for attaining this goal are finding an informal mentor, turning every opportunity into a learning experience, challenging yourself by strengthening your weaknesses and diversifying your experiences--all of which will demonstrate to admissions committees that you are "dedicated to growth."

That's all well and good for those who have already settled on an MBA as the appropriate next step in their career. But the degree has been getting some negative publicity recently, as young, ambitious quants have begun questioning its worth. The trajectory of most young business-oriented college graduates has traditionally consisted of a two-year analyst program, followed by two years at a top MBA program and then a return to the business world. However, those making big bucks in the finance world, for example at hedge funds and private equity shops, don't see the point of going back to school for two years and missing out on millions, while incurring debt from tuition. And, in fact, many analysts are now able to advance their careers without getting an MBA. A September article in the New York Times highlights this trend. The article explains, however, that "business school has not fallen out of favor among the student population at large," but rather just among those young whippersnappers making millions in their early 20s.

For those who don't fall into that category, a business degree is still a valuable piece of paper, especially for those who are looking to change career tracks; it provides a network of contacts and demonstrates to employers that graduates are committed and productive. In that light, an MBA still holds sway in the consulting profession and, as Hubbell urges, it's never too early or too late to make that push. So while your New Year's resolutions to work out twice a day and swear off chocolate for life may wane after a week or two, this may be a good time to take some important next steps in advancing your career.

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Filed Under: Consulting

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