Goodbye Yale

Please describe your short and long term goals and how your previous experience and an MBA will help you to achieve these goals. (500 words maximum.) In 2004, sixty-five percent of Yale MBA graduates accepted full-time offers in finance, manufacturing, or consulting. Seven percent accepted jobs in a category labeled "non-profit/public". My long-term career plan is to be part of this public interest category. Unlike most of my peers with an investment banking background, upon completing an MBA I intend to exit the finance field completely. Two years of investment banking experience has provided me with a foundation in finance, modeling, and valuation. Now I feel ready to pursue an MBA with a particular emphasis on my true interests - nonprofit management and corporate social responsibility. - (Written in September, 2005) These were the opening paragraphs of my Yale SOM application essays. I started writing my essays shortly after taking the GMAT in the summer of 2005, nearly 3 years ago. I didn't really know what I was talking about when I tackled the classic "Why an MBA, Why Yale, why Now?" kind of question, but I remember very clearly that Yale SOM stood out as a rather unconventional business school. I remember reading about the school's mission - educating leaders for business and society - and noting Yale's career statistics in more traditional MBA fields (banking, consulting), while also reading about alumni that have done some neat work with organizations in community development, microfinance, and other nonprofit ventures. I remember reading about GSE, an international probono consulting experience run entirely by students. I remember discovering the school's small class size, and being excited about the opportunity to get to know my classmates, instead of being just another number. And I remember that day in January 2006, when I received an email from SOM's admissions committee informing me that I had indeed been accepted to the Yale School of Management, class of 2008. Its certainly been a long journey - secretly prepping for the GMATs in the summer of 2005, to working on my application essays at home after a late night at the office, to finally leaving the investment banking industry after letting my bosses know that I had decided to matriculate at Yale SOM. But as everybody says, the experience went by way too quickly.

The highlights of my 2 years at Yale are undoubtedly the friendships that I've formed here. Of particular note is my study group, a weird, eclectic, group of people. On the career front we have little in common - after graduating from Yale we will be working across sectors - marketing, technology, corporate finance, sales and trading, and nonprofit consulting. I'm not entirely sure what it was that brought us together, but for better or worse we managed to grow very close throughout the 2 years. Not too many study groups last the entire MBA experience but I've been blessed with a group of people that really have been my 2nd family here in New Haven. Of course, outside of the study group are also a group of people whom I've formed what I suspect will be lifelong friendships. They are, what I like to call my "sticky friends", and truly an unexpected feature of coming back to grad school. Indeed, without these wonderful and fantastic people, I believe my MBA experience would have been a little less fulfilling, a little less interesting, and a lot less fun. On the career side, Yale SOM has been everything that I needed it to be. As a relative newbie in the nonprofit world I was fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded people who took the school's mission seriously, weaving the nonprofit world into the everyday fabric of my MBA experience. From my trip to Brazil last year for GSE, to working on the internship fund and spending the summer in Washington DC with the United Way of America, to ultimately landing a full time position in nonprofit consulting with CCS Fundraising, Yale is a community that encouraged me to pursue my interests and take on a relatively unusual career path for a former investment banker. To those thinking about an MBA or about to enroll in an MBA program, my advice to you is simple - do not make the experience merely about obtaining the "letters". The MBA experience is truly enriching, a chance to explore your passions, meet interesting people, see the world, and have a lot of fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I'm so sad that its over. As for this blog, I have a feeling that this may well be my final entry. If it is, I truly hope that you've been entertained by my account of time at Yale SOM. I've enjoyed keeping a log of my shenanigans, and I'm sure years from now when I re-read these entries and review the pictures I'll have a good laugh. As always, pictures from the graduation ceremony are in collage form below. Goodbye Yale. It was fun.

About the author

Patrick Ma