Customer Persona of a MBA Student: What does a typical business school student looks like?

4 mins read

We have spoken about building customer persona’s before on this site.

Last week we ran another detailed customer persona exercise for the Starting up class I teach at SP Jain. Here is the output from the class session.

The primary question posed to the group was:

What does a typical North American MBA student look like at a top 10, top 20 business school? How would you start building a customer profile for business school students with this profile? How would you sell 3 different knowledge products to them?

We started off with a day in the life of my customer technique.

A day in the life of a business school student?

Up between 5 and 8 am: Goes to sleep around midnight.

First and last things done during the day: Prep, review, exercise, connect, catch up

Head to the first class that starts at 8:20.

May have 3 – 4 classes on a given day. Upto 18 hours of instructions in a given week.

Has about 6 planned work, networking or recruitment related sessions in a given day.

Review case, answer questions, print out submissions. Stop in the Library or Career Office. Head out to the break out room. Grab a drink (Water, Juice, Gatorade, Ice Tea or Coffee) between classes.

Decide where to grab a bite, attend a lunch networking session, sit with classmates, group mates or friends. Catch up on the world during the bite break, head back to classes.

Review cases due for analysis and discussion. Sit down with group to review submission or assignment

Look up jobs, speakers list for this week or next. Find out what is happening on campus.

Go for a break, jog, run, bite, drink after school or depending on the case load just drop.

Head back to room to do work, chill, relax or catch up and connect.

We then moved on to Sources of Stress at Business School?

Assignments, submissions, networking sessions, interviews, shortlists, career related stuff, second and third term tuition bills?

Single biggest source of stress? By Term

First Term: Grades

Second Term: Internship

Third Term: Full Time Offer

Fourth Term: Full Time Offer followed by risk of not performing and getting laid off.

Post Graduation: Student Loan

Then we used the demographic bucket

Business School Student: Age group

Between 25 and 35. With the higher ages spreading out over 5% or so. Most students are in the younger bracket with the most common age being 27 – 28 years old.

25 – 28 Age Bracket for MBA students

2- 4 years of professional work experience – in most cases a single function job with a one or two employers. Most likely banking or consulting. More likely to be single than married, US resident versus international. Focus on recruitment and placement. Very competitive but also concerned about social circles, standing and network. Using the business school to upgrade compensation and prospects.

28- 32 Age Bracket for MBA students

Married, sometime with kids. More likely to be international with a broader professional exposure.

More likely to use business school to switch careers and professions. Concerned about placement but have a few back up options. More concerned about acquiring the right skill set. If international most likely to head back home.

32 – 37 Age Bracket for MBA students

Not at business school to switch career or look for placement. Most focused on education & acquiring skill sets.

Short Profile by Age group for Business School students

Profiles/Segments MBA – Younger MBA – Middle MBA – Elders
Age 25-28 28-32 32-37
Experience 2 years 4 – 8 years 10+
Background Banking or Consulting International / Independent Independent
Marital Status Single Single/Married Married
MBA Motivation Career Progression Career Switch Learning & Skill Acquisition
Net Worth Still paying off Student Loans from undergrad degree Negative Significantly Positive
Spending Power (in USD) Upto 200+ a term Upto 400+ a term Upto 1,000+ a term
Rationale for using a supplementary resource Do well in an interview,Do well at job Do well at interview. Learn something new Learn and Master a new skill
Interest Finance. Excel Models Finance. Background dependent
Ambition / Aspiration / Choice between offers Compensation and bonuses since it helps pay down loan balances. Career prospects 2 – 3 years down the road. Nature of work, relocation requirements. Compensation followed by what works best for the family followed by nature and type of role and responsibilities at the new job. Nature of work. Last chance at a career switch.
Evaluating an online Learning product – Pain Points & Factors – One Grades and Class Assignments. Great grades are one part of the selection process.
Pain Points & Factors – Two Career & Placements.
Can you help in:Picking up the language, Stay in touch with what’s happening in the world of finance, conversational topics.
Pain Points & Factors – Three Knowledge. Industry trends, compensation levels, economic outlook, investment guidance, opinions and views


So the final questions posed to the class and their assignment during this session were:

a) Designing three separate knowledge products for this group and selling them?

b) Identifying as many possible practical & addressable segments

How many segments can you really make from the above profiles? Which segment would you chose for your knowledge products? How do you know a segment is large enough or even profitable enough for you to begin work with it?

Here is some raw data as well as content and reading materials to help you along. More than 200,000 students take the GMAT exam every year. Business school students in North America produce over 120,000 Master in business graduates every year and about 300,000 undergraduates.


1 thought on “Customer Persona of a MBA Student: What does a typical business school student looks like?”

  1. Is An MBA Relevant for Starting BAs?Absolutely yes, an MBA is relevant for sanritg a BA career. But so are other / post-graduate degrees including: Business Administration, Accounting, Finance, Business Information Systems, Management Information Systems, Compuyer Science etc.Is Business Analysis Only for Information Technology (IT) Students?Absolutely NO, the Business Analysis profession has domain business analysts and Information Technology Business Analysis.Domain Business Analysts are not hired primarily for their IT Skills but for their domain / industry experience. Examples of these are Finance Business Analysts, Telco Business Analysts, CRM Business Analysts, Insurance Business Analysts, etc. What Courses Should A Business Analyst Take?A Business Analyst should pay attention to courses on Requirements Elicitation, Requirements Validation, Requirements Management, Use Cases, UML, etc. +17Was this answer helpful?

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