On a five-hour drive from Atlanta, Georgia, to Boone, North Carolina, my partner and I were finalizing my business school shortlist. I had spent nearly a year chasing my target GMAT score, and I had decided to focus on business schools that had successful Investment Banking (IB) programs. As we debated the list, my partner mentioned the Yale School of Management.
My initial reaction: “Isn’t SOM a nonprofit school?”
Well, yes and no. Since its founding in 1976, Yale SOM has been known for its strength in the nonprofit sector. What I didn’t realize until I did the research was that consulting and finance have risen to become the top two industries that SOM MBAs enter after graduation. That’s one of the reasons I kept SOM on my shortlist.
A HIDDEN GEM
Another strong rationale stemmed from being an international student who grew up in four different countries—India, Oman, UAE, and the United States. I knew that Yale was a name that meant something around the world. Even more important, when I reached out to SOM alumni, they were quick to make time for me and were strikingly humble despite their many accomplishments. They were genuine about the pros and cons of SOM, and spoke respectfully about the other schools I was considering.
I was thrilled to get into Yale SOM. However, it wasn’t until Welcome Weekend, when I talked to fellow students pursuing IB, that I realized that the Yale SOM Finance Club was running a successful IB recruiting process through its Wall Street network. It was a hidden jewel within a larger infrastructure of steady support for finance-driven students and alumni.
On average each year, about 40 Yale SOM students recruit for IB, of which 80%+ are successful at receiving internship offers. Yale’s differentiators are multifold:
The Yale SOM Finance Club: The club provides structured guidance throughout the IB recruiting process, almost like a course of its own. It covers every conceivable angle: résumé and story development, interview preparation, feedback through a designated mentorship program, weekly meetings and technical sessions. What sets SOM apart is the easy access to these resources, and the focused attention you can get from being in a small class of about 350 students.
If you have a difficult interview experience, you are encouraged to share what to look out for, so no two SOM students make the same mistake. For example, during the recruiting process, one of my classmates received some unexpected technical questions from one of the big banks where he interviewed. He sent out a message to all of us doing IB recruiting, giving us a heads up so we could all go in better prepared. This was not an outlier, but the norm. The Finance Club stresses carrying forward this “grow the pie” mentality year over year.
Student and Alumni Ties: While I was a student, I personally spoke with every one of the investment banking students in the classes of 2020 and 2021. Before that, by the end of the recruiting process, I had spoken to most of the SOM alumni in IB, going back to the Class of 2017. These kinds of close connections are typical at Yale SOM. In the first months of the school year, first-years spend hundreds of hours a week speaking with second-years about everything under the sun.
SOM alumni also prepare first-years for recruitment through formal interview preparation and a constant feedback loop that provides a competitive advantage in final-round interviews. I remember speaking with my friends at other schools about what we were currently working on in our interview preparation, and several responded with amazement, saying that they didn’t have that on their training calendar for at least another month!
A Broad-minded MBA: Yale SOM offers a non-traditional approach to business school teaching. The mission is to educate leaders for business and society, which is baked into everything from the core curriculum to clubs to conferences and speaker events.
For example, the core class State & Society takes you through cases including Bristol Myers Squibb’s decision to leverage a Yale patent to manufacture and price an AIDS drug. In the process, we examined how big pharma should juggle the decision of investing in R&D while simultaneously enabling access by pricing it lower in developing countries.
The course Modeling Managerial Decisions seamlessly switches between a quantitative perspective on optimizing techniques for problems with multiple constraints, while also learning to look at behavioral biases that go into building the very same models that are treated as the source of truth.
While there are professional clubs like Finance Club, non-professional clubs like Voices create a welcoming place for SOM students to share vulnerability and personal experiences, including how they have weathered prejudice and difficult life events.
Students more evenly split across the spectrum in terms of pre-SOM industry, function, and background. At the same time, the core mission — “Educating leaders for business and society” — is instilled in every aspect of MBA program. SOM offers a diverse experience that compels you to think about doing good along with the bottom line, regardless of your post-MBA destination. I hoped this would set me apart as I headed into a for-profit industry, and I’m glad I was right about Yale SOM.
OK—my partner was right!
Adhi Murali is an Investment Banking Associate at Citi in New York. He graduated from the Yale School of Management in 2021 and received an M.S. (2014) and B.S. (2013) from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to SOM, Murali worked for the technology company VMware, helping Fortune 500 clients solve challenging technology problems using VMware solutions. Murali is originally from India but grew up in the Middle East before moving to the United States for his undergraduate degree in 2009. He was profiled in Poets & Quants’ “2021 MBAs to Watch.”