"So you just finished up the year at Harvard/Wharton/Stanford/NYU, etc. and since your lifelong dream of being a banker doesn’t seem like a viable route anymore, you’re thinking that a startup might be the place for you…Well, let me break the news to you bluntly—most of you are going about this startup thing completely ass backwards and no early stage startup that I know of is really dying to hire an MBA."
The excerpt above does not describe me, but unfortunately it does describe someone who I look frighteningly similar to on paper. Therein lies my challenge. One that I am reminded of every day as I roam the halls at Wharton, where “recruiting” season is in full, disturbing swing.
I suppose I should tackle these clichés one at a time:
1) “So you just finished up the year at Harvard/Wharton/Stanford/NYU, etc.”
Guilty - I am a first-year student at Wharton
Innocent - I do not feel entitled by being a student here. Quite the opposite. I understand what many people, particularly successful entrepreneurs, think of those of us who choose to purse an MBA. I studied History as an undergrad and genuinely felt the need to go back and equip myself with the decision-making tools that I feel will help over the long term.
2) “…your lifelong dream of being a banker doesn’t seem like a viable route anymore, you’re thinking that a start-up might be the place for you.”
Guilty - On both counts…I spent 5+ years as an investment banker and I would love the opportunity to work at a start-up who’s product I believe in and do my best to help them grow.
Innocent - Banking was a means to an end. I was a very typical product of our liberal arts undergraduate system here in the U.S with little practical training. I felt that the banking industry would provide me with a practical crash course in business, which it certainly did. Through the course of my banking career I learned the language of business, how to think analytically and quantitatively, and, most importantly, I learned how to sell.
3) “most of you are going about this startup thing completely ass backwards and no early stage startup that I know of is really dying to hire an MBA.”
Guilty - I thought this at one point before I got to Wharton.
Innocent - I was the beneficiary of some great advice early on that enlightened me to this fact. I understand that I need to approach any entrepreneur with specific ideas and actionable items that let him/her know how I can add value immediately without wasting time and/or money. So that’s what I am going to do.