Location: Should you attend a B-school near a specific employer?
I have a question regarding the importance of geography in choosing your business school. I have found a better “fit” at Tuck and Duke than UCLA. However, the job I want post grad is an auto manufacturer located in LA and recruits primarily from UCLA/USC/UC Irvine. If I go to Tuck or Duke, how common or feasible would it be to obtain a job on the opposite coast with limited alumni in the area and no alums in the company?
To answer your question, I think I’d be careful about basing your business school decision on interest in a single employer, though, if it’s the case that your ideal position is with that single auto manufacturer, I think you should be able to reach out and engage with folks at that company (and pursue relevant positions), regardless of where you undertake your business degree.
I think the broader question — the level of influence your MBA program has in a particular industry or the broad alumni network base you would enjoy in a specific region — is of relevance, and in that instance (thinking about a whole ecosystem of companies rather than a single employer), you may want to privilege the business school that has the greatest number of ties to that sector and place … but I would use that merely as one factor in your choice of school, rather than as the deciding factor.
My universal answer is to go where your instincts tell you (the school where you will learn the most, where you will experience the most enriching interactions with classmates, faculty, administrators, etc.). With a dose of hard work (and strategic job search-related travel during holidays and school-sponsored job treks), you can bridge any gaps in industry presence and geography, and you’ll likely feel better not banking all of your hopes in attending a business school based on a single employment outcome at a single point in time of your much longer career.