by Brian DeChesare Comments (70)

From Investment Banking to Harvard Business School: How to Outshine Every Other Banker and Make the Leap

Investment Banking to Harvard Business School

This is a guest post from Edward Fu (HBS, 2010) and Melinda Hwang (MIT Sloan, 2010). Edward and Melinda are authors of “The HBS Blueprint: A Proprietary Step-by-Step Action Plan,” which teaches you how to get into HBS and or any other top business school.

If you’re an investment banker interested in going to a top business school someday, I’ve got good news and bad news for you.

First, the good news: Most MBA classes at the top programs over-index in students from investment banking. Experience in investment banking shows a strong work ethic, quant skills, and ambition, and Adcoms love that.

But here’s the bad news: The number of investment banking applicants is also disproportionately high (yes, everyone wants that elusive “2-year vacation”), which means that there’s a lot of competition… and that you might just look the same as everyone else – not ideal for winning admission to the top programs.

But there are clear ways to stand out from the crowd of current and former bankers – even if you haven’t climbed mountains in Japan or starred in a reality TV show before.

1. Show Integrity and Authenticity

The stereotype is that investment bankers are very money-driven.

And, let’s be honest: you probably did join the field because you like money and want to make a lot of it. No one works on pitch books until 4 AM because it’s their passion.

But in your application, it’s all about perception rather than reality.

You have to write in a genuine voice and give a thoughtful rationale for why you went into investment banking and, perhaps more importantly, what you plan to do with it.

The most common mistake here is to assume that the reasons why you went into investment banking are self-explanatory – you don’t even need an explanation, right?


Yes, Adcoms are very familiar with banking… but if you don’t define your own reasons for why you went into it, they’ll do that for you.

So you need to re-think your approach here and focus on 3 key points:

  1. Why did you go into it in the first place? Were you interested in M&A deals? Did a family member in real estate or brokerage get you interested? Had you always had a passion for investing?
  2. What did you learn during your time in banking and how did it shape your career goals? For example, did you discover that you really like finance but are interested in making it more accessible to people? Or that you are more passionate about a specific area in the industry?
  3. How will you leverage this experience in the future? We go into more details on this below, but it’s important NOT to come across as a “Yeah, I did my 2-3 years of banking and now I want to forget all about it” type of candidate.

A good rule of thumb is to ask someone you know to read your application, and ask if the voice that comes through is someone you’d respect and trust. If it is, you’ve done your job.

If it isn’t, you need to rethink what you’ve written and make sure that your answers to those 3 questions above are unique to you and NOT generic.

2. It’s Not What You Did, But Who You Are

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your application is assuming that since you came from a top bank, like Goldman Sachs, you have a golden ticket to admission at any of the top programs.

Think again.

Yes, a top-tier firm will give you an edge, all else being equal… but the specific firm you worked at is only a small part of Adcom’s evaluation of you as a candidate.

Going back to the point above: a lot of people applying to the top schools have worked at these top firms.

Sure, you might stand out if you’re applying to 2nd tier programs, but there’s really no point in going to those anyway, at least if your goal is to advance within the finance industry.

Another common mistake is to develop a laundry list of accomplishments and make those the focus of your application. This is not your private equity resume where all they care about is deals and deal experience – the Adcoms want to know who you are as a person.

To be clear, here’s what they DON’T care about:

  • How many deals you completed or what types of deals they were
  • The dollar values of those deals, the relevant EBITDA multiples and what the valuation ranges were
  • The super-advanced revenue model you built that incorporated 100 different business divisions across 2,000 separate worksheets

Adcoms want to see leadership – how did you influence the outcome of a deal or client engagement? What barriers did you overcome? What did you learn from those experiences, and how did you develop as a result?

Examples of what they DO care about:

  • Did you influence a client CEO to avoid taking an unethical action just to make his company look better?
  • Did you come up with an idea that could save employees or create new jobs, despite “cost-cutting” measures post-acquisition?
  • Did you convince the Managing Director of your group to start looking at deals in emerging markets, or to move into other new and unexplored territory?

Look at the experiences you’ve had and use them to build a story about how you’ve grown and who you are.

3. Extracurriculars Matter – Even If You Have No Time for Them

Getting involved in extracurricular activities – whether inside or outside your firm – is a great way to show awareness, involvement, and concern beyond what directly impacts you.

No, you won’t have much free time as a banker… which is why activities inside your firm can also be an excellent way to “do work” and also appear more interesting at the same time.

Coming from an investment banking background, it’s especially critical to show empathy – and the examples you provide of how you did this are JUST AS important as what you did in your investment banking role.

Here are a few examples of things you can do within the firm to demonstrate leadership and involvement:

If you’d prefer to be involved outside of work, choose activities that you can link to your career vision and that support the greater aspirations you’ve shared in your application.

Don’t simply join as a passive member to check off a box.

As with university admissions, it’s far better to be deeply involved with 1-2 activities where you actually made real contributions as opposed to creating a laundry list of 10-15 activities where you did almost nothing.

4. Communicate a Clear Career Vision

When crafting your vision, aim big, be specific, and tie it back to how XYZ MBA program is critical to helping you get there.

If you worked with companies in a particular industry, talk about how that experience shaped your aspiration to make an impact in that vertical.

For example, let’s say you worked in healthcare investment banking – you want to write about a “big career vision” such as:

  • You want to change the way that healthcare is administered
  • You believe the healthcare insurance industry is broken (actually, I think everyone believes that it’s broken…) and that it needs to be disrupted – and you have the plan to do it
  • You want to use mobile phones to assist in tracking and improving healthcare by focusing more on preventative care and flipping the current paradigm on its head

None of these goals is “easy,” and that’s the point. Each one is big, scary and exceptionally difficult to achieve – but that’s what top business schools want to see.

They want visionaries that will become world-renowned and famous – and they’d rather admit an “Icarus” who flies too close to the sun and falls rather than someone who never dares to fly.

If you wanted to stay in the world of finance instead of focusing on a new industry, you can tell a number of stories about your career vision:

  • Make consumer personal finance education more accessible by starting a new video content network on personal finance topics
  • Create a tech startup that brings the insights of hedge funds to the general retail investor to democratize investing
  • Create a better business model for retail banking that doesn’t rely on gouging consumers with fees
  • Develop a better model for peer-to-peer lending that allows both institutional investors and individuals to participate
  • Develop financial products to serve the “under-banked”
  • Change the way small businesses gain access to capital
  • Create an online membership site where anyone can learn about deals and financial modeling and get answers to their questions from the community and the instructors… whoops, Brian already did this one – pick a new vision!

Talk about a career vision that is both ambitious and a logical extension of the experiences you’ve already had, and don’t worry if you’re not sure if that’s what you REALLY want to do.

The key is to develop a logical story that will inspire them to believe in you and help you achieve your vision.

5. Build Senior Advocates

Developing close relationships with senior-level people in your firm is one of the most important things you can do to stand out from the crowd.

Getting a recommendation from someone at a high level demonstrates that you have the confidence to reach out to and engage with senior people; it also says a lot about your performance and results, since senior-level people tend to only notice and endorse people they perceive to be stars.

You’ll get big bonus points if they are able to talk about you and your accomplishments at a detailed level in their recommendation.

Senior-level people also often graduated from the top MBA programs, and frequently maintain connections to influential people at these programs. An informal word-of-mouth endorsement could be just enough to tip you into the “accept” pile.

Here are a few tips based on personal experience of how best to develop these relationships:

  • Find out what projects they are working on, and ask to join the team (do your homework first so that it’s obvious that you bring value to the table).
  • Proactively run an analysis and or put together a model that could benefit a project they are working on.
  • Start a task force for something you believe in, and ask if they would be willing to sponsor it.
  • Send out an invite for lunch, and ask about their career path and any advice that they might have for you. Senior-level people love talking about themselves and distilling advice to anyone who will listen.

More Tips?

All the tips above assume that you’re starting well in advance and have plenty of time to plan out your application – which is how it should be.

Knowing these tips ahead of time will help you stand out over all the other financiers applying and make sure you come out ahead – not only in the minds of the Adcoms, but also when acceptance letters are issued.

And to Learn Even More…

Sign up for the full HBS Blueprint at

Note from Brian: I have read A LOT of business school admissions guides because I actually thought about applying to business school at one point back in ancient times.

If you’ve read my emails and newsletters for some time, you know that I rarely promote 3rd party products and services, because most of them suck and don’t deliver what you’re looking for.

This business school admissions guide is the complete opposite of the other junk out there on the market because it tells it like it is.

There is no politically correct BS or generic fluff about “coming across as a well-rounded applicant” and other such nonsense here.

Instead, the authors explain clearly, starting from the first few pages, what the ONLY goal of your applications should be:

“The one and only goal of your application should be to convince the admissions committee that you could potentially become the next Jack Welch.”

That’s the truth.

Top schools don’t give a crap how “interesting” you are or how much community service you’ve done… they care about whether by “investing” in you, they’ll improve their own image and prestige and produce an industry titan in the future.

In essence, they’re just venture capital firms that invest in people: they expect most of their investments to be “failures” or at least produce “mediocre” outcomes (regional director of a biotech company)…

But they’re looking for the next Google or Facebook to offset all those “under-performing portfolio companies” (alumni who get “normal” jobs).

Here’s my favorite quote from this guide:

“If your end goal is just to become an Associate Director at a CPG company or a Managing Director at an Investment Bank, why would any school take a chance and invest in you? It’s like buying a $4 stock that you know only has the potential to increase to $5 per share.”

And it’s absolutely true.

I love his approach because it’s the same approach I’ve always used here: if you have no chance at getting into finance, I tell you that and recommend alternatives… if your interview skills suck, I tell you that and explain what to do.

If I were a doctor (shudder), I’d have horrible “bedside manner”… but you read this site because I tell you what you don’t want to hear.

After this introductory section, the rest of the guide is a detailed blueprint for how to create a vision that excites the Adcoms and then tell your story in a way that convinces them that you can actually achieve it.

This is why the guide kicks ass: it acknowledges that business school admissions, like finance interviews, are all about your story and how well you tell it more than anything else.

And that’s why you need to sign up for it right away and follow the blueprint it gives you for winning admission to all the top schools.

Unless, of course, you have no interest in getting into the top MBA programs worldwide – in that case, roll the dice and good luck to you!

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your article.

    I used to believe that MBA would be good for anyone outside of banking to break into banking. However, with top-tier banking experience, why would someone consider doing an MBA?

    To be more specific, if I, an analyst working in BB IBD, want to either stay in banking or jump to megafunds, is an MBA worth it at all?

    Thank you again for your time.

    1. An MBA is generally only worth it if you’re using it to get a much higher-paying job, such as the classic switches into consulting or banking. But sometimes people with top IB experience do get an MBA anyway, often to “take a break” or explore other options.

      But an MBA is not worth it if you want to stay in banking or move into PE (unless, of course, the firm offers to pay you for it and re-hire you when you’re done).

  2. I’m doing a BA degree in international business and social science right now and I hope to do a masters that will lead me in the right direction for investment banking.
    I’m interested in Economics and Finance so I was wondering which masters you recommend for my possible career path?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      In this case, such courses/degree maybe interesting to you:

      I’d say a Masters in Finance / Management.

  3. Brian/Nicole,

    Would top business schools (HBS, Wharton, Booth etc) ever consider an applicant that already has an MBA? Just a quick bio:
    – International student from Europe
    – Currently finishing up an MBA at a extreme non-target school in Chicago area right after undergrad. Did it because of the money – got a grad assistantship position and I could not get my H1B sponsorship earlier.
    – Will have a few years of investment banking experience working at a no-name boutique investment bank after finishing my MBA

    I really appreciate your feedback.

    Best regards,

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think they may, but they may question why you want to do an MBA again, and why that particular school. You may want to focus on honing your pitch on why you want to do your MBA again and perhaps speak to an admissions counsellor and understand what their policies are.

  4. Good Day

    My name is Andrew, son of late Mr.Vincent a retired Government worker, who died after being treated for a spinal cord injury cause by accident. Being the young surviving son of him, I am burdened in securing my late father Investment funds for a lucrative business ventures in abroad that will yield reasonable return on an Investments.

    I am looking for a reliable person to help in securing my late father investment funds and placing the investment funds into a lucrative investment abroad that will yield a reasonable/profitable returns to secure my future. I have contacted you to see if I can get all the advice for investment placement and suggestions guidance as a young individual who want to succeed in investment.

    I am looking into partnership with someone reliable that can manage the investment funds for me in an investment that will be profitable enough to secure future for me. Would you be interested in handling my late father investment funds for me? Please if yes, do me well by provide an Executive summary of any Project(s) or Investment opportunities that you know it can yield a profitable returns.
    I look forward to reading from you soon.

    Kind regards.


  5. Hi Brian / Nicole,

    Just wanted to check.. would you have any idea if Roger and Jennifer are still updating their site and/or selling the HBS Blueprint? I signed up for their site and asked them a question about shipping, but have not got a response.

    You had told one of the commenters before me that they had rebranded, but I could not find the other version online either.

    Alternatively, would you know of any similar program that would give me this kind of content?

    Would appreciate your help!

  6. The applications to HBS from Australia seem to be fewer. Why is this? And does it increase chance for getting an offer for an applicant from this country.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Not sure, and no I don’t think so but I may be wrong

  7. Hi Brian,

    I am from India, i am currently doing my super speciality in MD Radiology from one of the best institutes and would be done by April 2015. After a lot of thinking and studying about it online, i think i would be more suited and passionate to do MBA (mainly in Hospital management or Investment banking) programmes and then plan to work as a hospital administrator CEO or open up a chain of hospitals or diagnostic centres.

    I am looking forward for a guidance and suggestion if moving from a non-business (medical) to business would be a good decision for me. I am ambitious on getting my MBA from a top B-schools in the US especially HBS and Wharton. Which exams and scores cut off are pre-requisite for getting into one of them??
    Is there any scope for me to get selected and how should i go about for it ??

    Thank you.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      We are focused on investment banking on this site, so we can’t really give you detailed suggestions on your case. Yes, going to a top business school can help you. And you may want to contact for questions on admissions etc.

  8. Not sure if this is really the right place to ask this, but I’ll try anyway. Are there any up to date lists of companies that top schools currently like? Mostly I seem to get the answer “Look at how many applicants who works at XYZ got into HBS to get an idea” …but history is not necessarily a good indicator, as many things (politics, culture, trends) shift the focus of a University over time and in rare cases even end up blackballing certain companies they no longer wish to associate with (for sometimes esoteric or superficial reasons). An example: even with admirable goals, is it taboo to have come from 3 years experience in DOD contracting with Lockheed Martin? Have any blue chip’s seen bad enough publicity to no longer be drool worthy?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I don’t believe there’s a list that pools in all info. However, you can go to the top universties’ career resource site (career center) and compile the list of companies that recruit in those places.

  9. Brian,

    I loved this article and am seeking advice. I am eager on HBS / Wharton / Columbia.

    I am from Pak, and graduated from a top 25 liberal arts college in the US. I am currently working in IBD in a Mid Tier BB (think Citi / BAML )based out of London. I do not aspire to enter PE, but I am ambitious on getting my MBA from a top 3 B-school in the US. Given my current visa situation, I aim to work for 5 years, and like I said, I am ok with sticking to IB for the whole time. Maybe I might switch firms, but that is about it. I had a few questions and was hoping to get your view on them:

    – In terms of work experience, would 5 years of IBD experience be suffice for me to carve a strong B-school profile? I graduated with a 3.4 from college and I think 5 years of work experience along with a 700+ GMAT will help compensate.

    – I plan on sticking to finance. If I do go to B-school after 5 years of IBD experience, post- MBA, it makes little sense for me to come back to IBD as a 1st year associate. I have also crossed our consulting due to lower compensation compared to banking, which leaves me with PE / Corp Dev. / HF / VC. I understand that given my current plans, I probably would not have prior buyside experience. In your view, can I be considered a strong candidate for buyside? Of course I understand that this all is mere speculation and anything can happen, but I just want to get a ball park view of how things might shape up.


    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      – Yes 5 years of experience in IB will be more than enough to get in b-school, and your IB experience & GMAT scores will compensate for your GPA, which isn’t too bad in the first place
      – Yes if you’ve had solid IB experience, you maybe considered a strong candidate for the roles you mentioned – check out for more info on PE roles

  10. Hi,

    I really would like to use B-School as a way to move to the States (Im German) and get work over there (think PE/VC), however, I never really understood the logic behind “THE PATH”;) 2 years banking + 2 years PE= B-School and then going back to PE.
    Why would I wanna go thru the all the BS to get into a PE firm and then leave go to B-School just go into PE/HF/VC again. Is it that “weird” just to stay in banking for 3/4 years go to B-School and then go into PE?


    1. It’s possible to do that, but most of the time for post-MBA recruiting in PE they want to see people who have done PE previously. So that is why that “path” is so common.

  11. I really like the analogy of business schools essentially investing in people just like a VC fund would invest in a startup.

    So after spending a few hours learning about MBA applications (including reading this manual), and noticing that it seems that the “big vision” is what counts the most / a lot, I made the connection with VC investors:

    Paul Graham at YC has this to say: “If you have some big visionary plan you’re probably Webvan”. Also when choosing startups (i.e. looking for winners), what he looks for is the cofounders: “Don’t tell me about your idea, tell me about your cofounders, how long have you guys known each other, how good are they, what have you worked on together, it’s all about the people.”

    It seems therefore that the strategies employed by MBA and VC “adcoms” are polar opposites, even though they are essentially doing the same thing.

    source: (Webvan quote is at 04:20, what looks for quote around 06:50)

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Thanks for your input!

  12. Hi, I am an engineering student in India at one of the premier institutes of the country – IIT. I am interested in working as an investment banking analyst in New York in any of the bulge bracket banks. Currently I’m in my 3rd year(junior year). Is there any chance of me getting selected as a full-time analyst at such banks? I’d be applying in the next year. I’ve been selected at DB, Bombay in Trading Division for summer internship.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Congrats on your internship. Without a visa, it may be more challenging if you aren’t a US citizen. Perhaps you can ask for an internal transfer once you get a full time offer. Good luck!

  13. Hi Brian,

    The content in this article has some very similar ideas/suggestions to a mba guide I bought on Bschool Admissions Formula about a year ago, so I checked out their free excerpt and found that the methodology is very similar and the 3 high level points under methodology are exactly the same. So I just want to make sure that I’m not buying a product that I already have. Please can you verify?

    1. Hi Brian,

      I just checked out a bit more of their website and the table of content is actually the same as the one I bought as well, So I’m just curious that could this version be an upgrade to what I have bought previously (mine was third edition, version 2.0)? Also the authors of the guide that I bought did not have Roger nor Jennifer. Different owner or sales technique?

    2. It’s the same I believe – they changed the name and re-branded the site, but the book itself is similar or the same. So you do not need to buy this version.

  14. Just how competitive is HBS, I am studying my masters in the UK at a top business school. At this moment I am very borderline distinction, which is the top grade but I worried I might not cut it. The grades are distinction, merit, pass and fail.

    1. Competitive in terms of getting in? Extremely since it’s perceived as the top business school worldwide. Once you’re there, still tough but “grades” don’t really matter in business school so it’s more about balancing your time properly and landing the best job offer possible.

  15. Hi,
    I’m a new reader here and over the last week I’ve read almost all of your posts. Brilliant stuff, extremely informative.

    My only request is that you add a date and time to your posts and comments, ’cause right now I have no idea how old these posts are and how relevant they are with regards to recent years.

    Thanks. Looking forward to more of your posts!

    1. Thanks! We do not list dates for the most part for the reasons described here:

  16. Hey Brian,

    Great Article!

    Getting into HBS is great, but do you think doing your MBA from Rotman or Richard Ivey at Canada can help you get into iBanking or PE/VC? As I have heard they are THE best b-schools in Canada. Have you ever met someone from these schools who is currently doing IB/PE/VC?

    Thanks mate!

    1. They can help, but more so in Canada than the US since they are not as well known here. If you look at some of the finance in Canada articles on the site I think there are references to all of those schools, so they work well, but less so in the US vs. HBS / Stanford / Wharton.

      1. How competitive is the market in Canada for IB/VC jobs? Do grads from these schools find jobs in these fields easier than their counterparts in the US?

        1. Canada tends to be quite competitive if you look at past articles / interviews here on the topic – there are very few positions and the industry is much smaller, so in many cases it will be tougher.

  17. Hahaha, I followed your IBD guides to the letter, and was successful. I’ve been pretty lost after that though, as I didn’t have a guide to life anymore telling me what to do. I guess I’ll use this next. Awesome!

    1. Congrats! Yes, life coaching and life guides are coming up next… it’s a growth area.

  18. Ok, I don’t know if I should say I went through recruiting or recruiting went through me because I networked my ass off got my resume out there for FT but most places had already filled up with previous SA or so my networks said. I am looking to reposition myself with a masters in some related crap from a target and take it from there. My main question is, I made some good people on my networking ventures. How do I inform them of this and try to keep them as networks a year after I am done with my masters and could leverage that further. BTW most of them are senior management. Think MD, Dir and VP. Also, I am an international student and going small is almost out of the question. Any ideas?

    1. I would just tell them you decided to change your plan and stay in school / do the Master’s program because [You wanted to learn more about X / Get a better background in Y / insert other reason here] and position it as more of a “Want to improve myself” type of thing rather than “I didn’t get an offer, so I’m back in school.”

      For keeping up the relationships, just ping them occasionally with anything relevant or follow news at their banks and ask them about recent deals the bank has advised on… or just periodically ask them for referrals or advice about courses, internships, etc.

  19. Brian – What’s your take on GS Salt Lake City’s entry-level ER role? It’s a 2-year program and people are moved to NYC / other BRICs location. Analysts works on model a lot and have lots of exposures to folks in NYC.

    1. Not directly familiar with it but if you get good exposure it’s probably a good bet… the main issue is that networking opportunities will be very limited because hardly any banks are based in Salt Lake City. So if you’re confident you can get around that by making trips elsewhere / relying more on calls then it could work well.

  20. Avatar
    Taraz Dearmont

    How much do MBA programs care about your undergraduate coursework and course load. For example, I am doing part-time senior year (10 credits each semester) because I did not want to graduate early (December), will that look very bad or shouldn’t be a big deal to the top tier MBA programs?


    1. I don’t think they care that much… it is a factor but overall GPA probably matters more than that. Overall they will factor in work experience, activities, your essays and recommendations a lot more than specific undergraduate courses. I don’t think a lower course load one year matters.

  21. Does having only an investment banking internship qualify for an entry-level analyst position at a boutique PE firm?

    1. Probably not, but you never know… worth a shot to apply.

  22. How much would presenting yourself as a Leader with extracurriculars help with PE recruiting? Obviously PE firms care more about deal experience and your role on the team but would having 1 strong experience with a non-profit similar to the ones you were throwing out there help you stand out at all?

    1. It wouldn’t help quite as much with PE because they care more about your work experience and deals / clients and less about how well-rounded you are. But yes, in general having 1 strong experience would help more than a laundry list of lesser ones. It doesn’t even need to be an activity, can just be a study abroad program or something similar (in one PE interview I had, the Partner spent 30 minutes asking me about living in Japan rather than asking real interview questions).

      1. Gotcha. Thanks Brian, great article btw as always.

  23. Does your comment regarding bschools acting like VCs apply to undergrad admissions too?

    1. To some extent, yes, but less so because they know that not everyone there is driven to succeed in business and become a famous alum. But yes, the top undergrad schools still want rock stars in specific fields most of the time.

  24. Hi, I am Ali from Pakistan. I just wanted to know that if I am doing my BSC in accounting finance or BBA from a very renowned Business school in Pakistan ie Institute of Business Administration and later if I chose to do my MBA from a top business school in US or Canada so will it matter much if I want to break in to investment banking field ?? or is it necessary that I ll also have to do my BBA from a top business school from states ? I am confused on which should I spend more on ?

    1. If you have 3-5 years of full-time experience do the MBA. If you’re still in undergrad, do the BSC or BBA degree and don’t even think about the MBA until you have more experience. Where you complete the degree depends on where you want to work, if you want to work in the US it will be much easier for you if you complete the degree there.

      1. Thanks a lot. One more question, Since I am an international student if I go to states to complete my degree so definitely I ll have to pay 2-3 times more as compared to the citizens. So I want to know that is it too much worth spending on studying BBA from states at the price of $1.2 lac where I can do the BBA from my country as well from a well recognized business school at the price of $8000 OR should I complete my undergrad degree with no financial burden in my home country, save the money and spend on my MBA or Masters from an ivy league or a top business school in US or Canada ?

        1. Ali,
          You don’t necessarily have to pay 2 or 3 times. If you go to state university, you probably need to pay more compare to in state student. If you choose private university, everyone will be paying the same amount.

          There are plenty of scholarships out there. you may need to try little harder to find those.

          And one more point, you can still get into HBS even if you have degree from Pakistan.

          1. you meant I can get into HBS for Masters even if I do my bachelors from Pakistan?
            And one more thing is confusing me that do I need to have Bachelors in Mathematics degree in order to break in to this field? or is it fine even if I do BSC Accounting Finance or BBA (Finance) ? Thank you

          2. Yes, you can still get in even if you do the undergrad degree in Pakistan. Any of the degrees you mentioned should be fine, business schools don’t have a strong preference for certain undergrad majors.

          3. Ali, take my advice with a grain of salt, but if you read Investment banking guides on Brian’s website, you can major in Philosophy in an Ivy League and still go into IBanking with good grades/ec. You can get into HBS MBA from Pakistan, but you need to be a great candidate (obviously).

  25. Brian, would you say this guide (HBS Blueprint) also applies to European business schools, or is mostly focussing on the way to break into US BS?? Thanks in advance!

    1. I think it applies to both, but it’s probably a little more slanted toward US schools since the authors both attended US-based schools. But pretty much any of the top 10-15 schools worldwide will look for similar qualities because they want to make the same types of “investments.”

  26. Do you think this method of presenting yourself as overly ambitious (i.e. the next creator of Facebook or Google of some sort) still applies to top tier second-entry (transfer) programs such as Wharton or Ivey (Canada)? These are undergrad level programs from target schools.

    1. For undergrad programs (if I understand your question correctly), probably not as much since you won’t have as well-defined a career / career vision at that stage. But it still helps to stand out by telling them something they haven’t heard before, ex:

      1. Thank you for this link Brian!

    2. Just to clarify, I am currently a senior student from a non-business program trying to transfer to one of the target schools next year as a third-year to best position myself for recruitment. How should I go about selling myself in the application at the undergraduate level without sounding unrealistic?

      1. I don’t think it will sound unrealistic as long as you have a demonstrated interest in whatever you’re pitching… generally to make a non-business to business move you want to tell a story such as: “I was interested in Topic X, but then I ran into Person Y / Went to Event Z, which sparked my interest in the business side of Topic X. Now I want to combine my knowledge of the field with business and eventually… become an investor / advise companies / start a company / work in sales or business development in the field.” The list goes on since business schools offer such road topics.

        1. Thanks as always. So when are YOU planning to do your mba? ;)

          1. Never! It’s not really useful for someone like me / I am already too old to get into top programs.

          2. Too old? You sound like young in most of your products I’ve purchased. I suppose you’ve made them while ago. I feel like you won’t tell me your age so I won’ ask. But what age group do you consider too old for top tier business schools (not to break into banking but for executive managerial positions in the future).

          3. Past 30 and it’s difficult to get into top schools – the trend is to move younger and younger (e.g. Harvard 2 + 2 program). I don’t talk about myself or tell people much about who I am because I don’t want stalkers / crazy people showing up / people trying to hack my accounts (all true stories).

          4. omit “like” ^

          5. It never hurts to be famous. You and Andrew Krammer from sound alike. He teaches visual effects tutorials. I’m sure you know him since you seem like you’re interested in short film productions.

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