Jump-Starting Careers

If you walk into an investment bank or onto a trading floor, you can count on one hand the number of minorities,” says Elton Ndoma-Ogar, a 32-year-old institutional equity sales trader with Morgan Stanley Equities in New York. He and John T. Burt Jr., a 30-year-old consultant based in Indianapolis, hope to address this concern through MBA JumpStart, a pre-M.B.A. program for graduate school candidates accepted to top-tier business schools.

Launched in 2004, the annual intensive two-and-a-half day forum, held at a leading business school each year, brings together minority talent and representatives from consulting and financial firms to engage in interactive workshops, industry seminars, and networking/mentorship opportunities.

“There has never been a question of aptitude,” says Ndoma-Ogar of the students selected. “It has always been a question of how we can expose them to different areas within these industries where they can match their skill set with the job functions.

Ndoma-Ogar and Burt are 2003 graduates of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Their inaugural program, held at their alma mater, hosted 75 students and nine corporate sponsors. This year, the program–held at the University of Chicago–welcomed 105 eager candidates and an additional sponsor.

“Did everyone bite?” asks Burt, rhetorically. “No, but we are happy with the set of sponsors that we currently have.”

After participating in JumpStart, Jared McKinney, 30, landed a position at Banc of America Securities in sales and trading.

“Getting into a top M.B.A. program isn’t enough for getting a job in these industries,” says McKinney, who is completing his second year at the University of Chicago graduate School of Business. “Networking and building relationships are also key components.

Financial services provider Merryl Lynch hired five of its summer employees directly from last year’s group of JumpStart attendees.

Says Ndoma-Ogar: “The true test will be where our participants end up full time.”

For more information, contact them via e-mail at info@mbajumpstart.com
Here are other independent programs that support minority M.B.A. candidates:
The SEO Career Program (www.seo-ny.org)
MBA Diversity Alliance (www.mbada.org)
Management Leadership for Tomorrow (www.ml4t.org)