How Stanford GSB’s Latest Fellowship is Reshaping Applicants’ Career Goals

“Stanford will pay you to attend its business school-but only if you agree to work in the Midwest.”(Business Insider, September 27, 2016)

This is likely the most intriguing statement we have heard in years. As MBA admissions consultants we talk to our clients consistently about post MBA plans: including industry, job function and location. With the MBA diploma in hand and new MBA knowledge in mind, finding therightjob involves examining these three legs of the stool. The latter point of location, however, is usually not the focus of the conversation as the student 1) already has a preference of where to live post-MBA or 2) will stay put in the city/town where the MBA program is located due to the connections made or internship had or 3) is open to moving to anywhere!
However, Stanford GSB is turning heads as it has a different option for some of its applicants. TheStanford USA MBA Fellowshipprovides financial assistance to students who wish to attend Stanford and are committed to economic development in regions of the United States that are underrepresented in the MBA program. In its first year, the Fellowship will focus on the Midwest and will pay three students $160,000 (tuition and associated fees) over the two years.Click here for the full criteria.
Would you be willing to commit to a location before committing to a job? Would you be willing to say no to a particular part of the country, i.e. the very hot Silicon Valley or the banking capital of New York City, even before you start your MBA? These are great questions to ponder as you write your essays and really think through your short-term and long-term goals. Admissions Directors often read about an MBA student pursuing an investment banking role at x firm or a strategy consulting role at y firm—very industry and job function focused. We spoke with several former adcom who were very clear about how refreshing it would be to hear in an essay or during an interview about post-MBA plans involving location preferences, especially serving those areas of our country that need help growing and embedding more MBA minds in the professional culture. Stanford is not assigning the Fellow to a particular industry or organization, yet is instead allowing a great deal of white space and creativity for the MBA graduate to show how he/she can bring about effective change. What a noble task!
Let’s turn the focus from the East Coast and West Coast to the Midwest, which is what some call the underserved area. How can you help these states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin? The trifecta effect in this area of 1) the rise of entrepreneurs, 2) great companies such as General Motors, Eli Lily and Boeing and 3) lower housing costs makes the Midwest an attractive place to move to for a few years. We think that Stanford is on to something and we are curious to see which region of the country is the next focus of the Fellowship if it continues to grow in the coming years.
The article also raised another point for MBA applicants: what other schools are offering such interesting fellowships, scholarships and ideas? Do your research. Dig deep. Remember top-tier MBA programs want qualified and interesting students just as much as you want to be a part of their MBA community. Find that match. It is out there for you.
Curious about what this could mean for your MBA applications? You’re in luck! We offer a free 30-minute consultation so you can ask those questions and get the conversation started. We look forward to hearing from you!

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