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URGENT: Need some advice regarding my profile

Hi guys,

First time poster here. I am an international candidate, and I am considering applying to a MFE/MFin program in the US. I wanted some advice about my profile before I apply. This is urgent because I am planning to apply for Fall 2016, and a couple of the programs that I am targeting have a deadline of March 15.

I am a mechanical engineer. I graduated in 2013. I started developing an interest in the finance industry during my undergrad, but I had no idea how to get into the industry. I wasn't aware that courses like MFE exist. So after graduation, I joined my family business as a Sales Executive, and currently I am employed as an Accounts Manager with my firm.

I came to know about the MFE program only recently through a friend, who is also planning to pursue it this year. I researched the program, its curriculum and job prospects after graduation thoroughly. Everything about the program interests and intrigues me. My research has convinced me that MFE is what I really want to do. It suits my skillset perfectly, and I'll also get to enter the finance industry through the program - something that I have wanted for quite some time now.

I fulfil all the requirements of the program. I have taken 4 semesters of Math courses, and 3 semesters of Programming courses as part of my undergrad curriculum. The Math courses included an in depth study of calculus and linear algebra, and the Programming courses included one semester of coursework in each of C, C++ and MATLAB. I have always been a top ranked student all my life when it comes to Math and Programming. My grades in my undergrad courses in these 2 subjects are all B and above (except once, when I got a C in one of the Math courses). Also, I took the GMAT in October 2015 for the first time, and scored 770 (Q51, V44) on the first try itself (I was planning to pursue an MBA with a specialization in Finance, as I thought that an MBA would be my best bet to get into the finance industry - like I said, I wasn't aware of the existence of courses like MFE then). In short, what I am trying to say is that I am confident that I will be easily able to handle the rigour of the MFE program.

So my questions are these:

1. Is my work experience of 2.5+ years in a non-finance background going to hamper my chances of getting admitted to a great university? I consulted a career counselor, and he told me that the university would want to know why I want to pursue an MFE now (i.e. after more than 2 years of work ex in a non-finance field) and why I didn't pursue it earlier. This would reduce my chances, according to him. Is this true?

2. My overall undergrad GPA is low (~ 2.8/2.9 when converted to the US 4.0 GPA scale), though my GPA for the last 60 semester credits is above 3.0. Can my overall GPA hurt my chances, despite the fact that I have good grades in the pre-requisite courses? And if so, to what extent?

Any and all advice will be highly appreciated.

Work experience having nothing to do with finance + bad undergraduate GPA + B's and C's in math courses = you'll probably end up in one of the bottom-tier MFE programs, and the result will be $80k in tuition down the drain and no job offers. Be careful
1) No

2) A bad GPA will get you rejected at most of the top schools. They have plenty of applicants with 3.7+, even 3.9+ GPAs to pick from.
Plenty of people with engineering undergrad degrees get into these programs. So from that perspective you've got a chance. Still in the running.

Having no finance experience, no problem, plenty of people make a successful transition to.

Average/low GPA? then you need to take a non-traditional approach to get in.

What you need to do is convince MFE program admission committe members that they would be making a mistake if they don't take you and you will be ending up at a rival program anyway.

How to do that? A possible suggestion (among many), let's take an investment banking research paper (any one that deals with topics of current interest) and dig into it. These papers usually try to prove a point with some numbers. These numbers are usually derived from a combination of data sources. If you are resourceful enough (and hungry enough), you will find a way to get your hands on those very same data being used in the paper (find a Bloomberg, or Reuters terminal somewhere, perhaps in the local science library? or sneak into a local college with such terminals). You will also need to figure out the financial model that they used (derivative model, statistical model, whatever). Implement the model (Excel VBA, Matlab or even better in Java or C++ taking advantage of open source libraries) and reproduce the results. Write a detailed report and put it in a nice binder. Do not email it in but instead try to find a way meet (in person) the MFE director of your dream and show it to him/her.