MBA Guides: Business school first year, first term: Dear Mom and Dad or the MBA contract market

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I wrote these six pieces in my first few months at Columbia Business School as a fresh of the boat first year student in New York. While they are all a little dated (it has been 10 years) they provide a nostalgic look back at days when post the sanctioning of your student loan you could sit at peace for a few hours each evening and write a page for your business school student magazine. Away from the din of the traffic, the rush of the finance case due the next morning and the maddening competitiveness of some of your classmates. I wrote under the pen-name Roach.

This piece was written a decade before Kill Bill I and Kill Bill II was released.


Dear Mom & Dad

Hi. I am studying in the wrong school.  Took me a while to figure this out but I would have been better off as a lawyer.  It hit me tonight during one of my many fruitless group discussions (GD) around a meaningless HBS case.  I would have specialized in case law dealing with justifiable homicide under extenuating circumstances. Given the way things are right now I would have been my first client. Followed by a long list of cluster-mates and first year business school students from all over the globe.

I would never go to bed hungry and my cell phone would never stop ringing.  I would be hotter than Viagra (or Cigars – take your pick), the Phantom Menace and Gwyneth Paltrow combined. All across the universe B-School students would feel comfortable issuing contracts on their group partners (GP), knowing that they could always turn to me if (and when) they got into trouble. Group members (GM) would think twice before debating (for hours) the relative merits/demerits of printing portrait or landscape.  Student would be more productive now since one phone call would take care of the twenty idiots (for lack of a stronger printable word) pulling them down in their five courses.  Not to mention the beneficial effect the phone call will have on the class curve, the class size, space at happy hour and registration for Economics of Strategic Behavior.

As for professors – they would spend more time researching the fit between group partners than esoteric concepts within their subjects.  This would result in dramatic improvements in student mortality and comprehension.  Orientation would be replaced by week-long intense therapy sessions focusing on violence within the class room.  Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers and Pulp fiction will become part of the core curriculum.  Study tours will now visit Columbia, Chechnya and Kosovo rather than China, Brazil and Japan.  Capital Markets will be replaced by a new course on ‘The Contracts Market’.  Quentin Tarantino will be named as the new Dean of the Business School. The Rankings will have another column in 2000; student mortality, right next to the selection rates.

I will be hailed as the hero responsible for eradicating the nuisance of random group assignments.  The average time required for an MBA will fall from two years to less than a year (time saved by the elimination of group interaction.)  B-School students would worship me everywhere. I will be exempted from working within groups for the rest of my life. I will ace all my midterms and finals since I would forever be free from the trauma of discussing ‘Toy world’ till three am in the morning on the eve of my first finance case submission.

Within a year we will integrate vertically and become the market maker for contracts on top ten B-School students. We will be the only full service brokerage firm on the international scene.  ‘Name the group, name the student, name the price’ will be our motto. Our specialization would be

1. Providing counseling in the initial stages of team work trauma.
2. The single phone call solution for irritating group members.
3. Legal services if the FBI comes knocking on your door.
4. Protection services if a targeted group member reverses the contract on himself.

Within a few years being a business school student would be the most dangerous occupation in the whole world.  Twenty something would now dream about working with the reactor core at Chernobyl rather than sitting through the first course in finance. Forced with falling demand, tuition would fall across the board.  Better yet, schools would now be forced to pay MBA students hazardous pay.  They would also be forced to recruit more than a 100% of the applicants to overcome the 90% first year mortality.

Can you imagine nobody would need to take the GMAT or write the application essays anymore (ETS will file for chapter eleven.)  Just send in your name and your war and health records and the school will let you know if they think you can make it through the next one year. The only criteria for success would be survival.   The Navy SEALs, NSA and the State department would replace Consulting and Investment Banking as the main recruiters.

Let me know what you think of my future plans. I have to finish my law school application and subcontract a contract on my group members

Love yours

The Roach

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