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Thread: Another profile feedback question - PhD in Finance or Business Economics

  1. #1
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    My Two Cents Another profile feedback question - PhD in Finance or Business Economics

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    Hi,

    I previously asked the question about whether work experience in the real world (as opposed to an RA position for example, and in my case I'm working at a hedge fund) will help. After 3 years of work I'm trying to look back and evaluate my profile and interests to make the final decision - whether to apply this year, and to which schools. This is a very important step for me, so any feedback is greatly appreciated.

    School: Top 25 liberal arts (LAC) (as an intl' student)

    Majors: Math, Econ

    Math: I took pretty high level math courses that were offered like Real Analysis & Lebesgue's Theory (A), Abstract Algebra (A), Differential Equation (A), Math Modeling (A-). All of Statistics courses that were offered (all As).

    Econ: Advanced Econometrics (A-), Finance (A) on top of Intermediate Micro (A), Macro (A).
    I got some B+ in some lower level Econ classes that were more qualitative.

    CS: I almost finished a CS minor, took Scientific Computing (A).

    GPA: 3.8 (Math GPA : 3.95, Econ GPA: 3.7)
    Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude

    GMAT:
    750 with 6 writing (Math: 52, Verbal 40)

    Research: Sophomore summer paid research at a big institution - working on an Applied Math industrial project in a team, and I was the project manager. We finished a paper and presented it at a conference.

    I didn't do research in my third year summer as I did an internship in the industry instead. But the project at that internship led me to finish my honor thesis in the same topic. Part of the thesis was published in a small journal. I might start working again with the same professor on that topic but no hope of any publication from now until year end.

    LORs:
    I'm still debating whether to get my LORs from my Math or Econ professors (I guess it'll be a 2-1 ratio but 2 Math or 2 Econ?). They will be good, but none is from someone "enormously" famous or from any outside institution. Also, the professor I worked with in my thesis is relatively young and with less impact than the other ones. I have about 5 professors who would be willing to help but choosing among them is the problem. There are 2 Harvard PhDs, 1 Chicago, 1 Temple (but good) and 1 UNC. Can I submit more than 3 rec if I can't choose?

    Teaching Experience: I TAed a lot of Math, Econ classes.

    Others: I have been at a decent investment fund, working in fixed income area for the last 3 years. I won't say the nature of my work is "research oriented" but definitely very quantitative. It is actually not easy to think of leaving the job for 5 years of school, but I do want a PhD experience and waiting longer might be too late.

    I'm taking the CFA level 3 this June. It's an all-comprehensive Finance curriculum.

    I had some regional and national awards in CS, Math, Physics in high school and a regional Math award in college.


    What school range should I aim for? Would I have a chance at the top 10?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by bonbon; 04-27-2010 at 06:19 PM.

  2. #2
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    I know finance is super competitive but you seem to have a great chance. Definitely apply to all the top schools but make sure that you put in your safeties. The marginal cost of applying to top schools is nothing compared to the upside.
    Attending: MIT Sloan.

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    Thank you, figuringout for your support!

    It's interesting to see that in the Econ dept, people seem to think that an industry experience like in my case will hurt my application, while the general consensus here is that it might help marginally. Some people in the Econ forum advised me to leave my job and take up an RA position to boost my profile and to prove that "I can leave the high paying job to do research". I didn't mean to discount any suggestion at all. Even though I thought the fact that I'm applying to a PhD means that I'm willing to leave the job to do research already, in fact I still looked more carefully into RA positions. However, in another Econ thread (http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-econo...18-ra-fed.html) it seems like an RA experience can vary a lot and it's hard to predict what you'll really get out of the job. If it's only data skills, then I get that from my job already. Also, I have been out of school for 3 years and a lot of 1-yr RA positions don't sponsor H1-B visa for intl' students.

    The only thing I'm trying to do to make up for that is continuing to work with my thesis prof on another project. It's only starting now so I'm not sure how much weight it'll add at the end of the year when applications are due...

    And again, anyone can help me answer - should I submit more than 3 references? If not, should I ask 1 math prof to be the representative one, but then he can also mention comments from other profs in the department?

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    I personally would not recommend quitting the job (especially if you are relatively happy there). In general, unless you are someone with significant experience my sense is that work experience does not count for much at all. The best things you can do now is target conference/minor journal publications. Also, try and have a refined idea of your research interests (via reading up on current research) and you should be fine.

    As for more than 3 references, I dunno how it works for econ, but I dont think business schools encourage that. Go with the ones who you think are likely to be known and who are likely to write strong letters for you. As for "mention comments from other profs in the department" -- I wouldn't ask the prof to write anything in particular, just trust that they'll do a good job. Quality matters more than quantity, really.
    Attending: MIT Sloan.

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