Really appreciate what you're doing here. Would love to get your insight on my chances and any recommendations you can provide me.
Here are my statistics:
-American born, 1st gen college student from an underrepresented SE Asian minority (Malaysian/Indonesian... or is that a stretch to use for differentiation?). Speak two foreign languages, albeit not fluently: Spanish and Malay.
-GPA: 3.3 Overall / 3.8 Finance at a top 15 UG business school
-GMAT: 740 (50Q/41V)
-Age: 25 (26 at matriculation)
-W/E: 2 yrs 10 mo. (~3 yrs) as an analyst at a middle market M&A I-bank / part of a Big 4 accounting firm (counts for major name recognition). No real honors or progression to speak about, but I was known as a consummate team player and I had a project toward the latter part of my tenure in which I was given the responsibility to manage a strategic advisory engagement on my own. Laid off as part of a large restructuring back in June. In college I had a three month internship as an intern at a private equity shop.
-E/C: Leadership role in a socially beneficial nonprofit startup since Oct. 2008 -- I held the title of VP of Corporate Relations, in which I led fundraising efforts for a volunteer run event production company that would raise over $15k for different charities including organizations like Kiva (which inspired me to want to get involved in microfinance). I also held an executive leadership position as VP of Alumni Relations for my business fraternity in college. Other things: avid independent traveler and scuba diver.
-What I've done since layoff: Traveled for two months in Central America, taking Spanish courses and gaining valuable life experience in third world countries/emerging markets (I've been to over 20 countries in my life now, many of them emerging market nations in Asia and Central America). Now a friend and I are managing/working on pro-bono consulting projects for different social enterprises based in Africa (one does microfinance, the other does sustainable farming). I am also volunteering for a local well-established microfinance networking organization in the SF Bay Area. I will also apply to and hope to get a four month fellowship program with a microfinance organization to work in the field in Africa, interviewing microentrepreneurs.
-MBA goal: Want to diverge from finance/banking. I want the MBA to provide me with the knowledge and network to become part of leadership in a microfinance organization or to be able to work for the World Bank (short and long term), or to move into strategy consulting (short term) which would ultimately allow me to gain the knowledge, experience and network to start a social enterprise consulting practice (long term). Another goal is to become an entrepreneur doing sustainable eco-tourism or other social enterprise.
-Recommendations: One from my former direct supervisor at my former job, and one from the president of the non-profit in which I held a leadership position.
Here's the deal: I'm applying to several schools to increase my chances of acceptance, six of which are going to be in R1. I am pretty set on the following schools:
1. Kellogg (far reach)
2. Wharton (far reach)
3. Haas (reach)
4. Fuqua (sweet spot)
5. Anderson (sweet spot)
6. Cornell Hotel Management (sweet spot)
For R2 I am thinking of applying to Ross (reach), and also to USC Marshall (safety) and UT McCombs (safety).
Questions for you:
1) My concerns are with my unemployment and my less than average length of work experience. However, I know that many would-be applicants are unemployed now and I think that the use of my time since then will be a positive reflection given my MBA pursuits. But what do you think? And do you think that focusing on social enterprise for my goals and MBA motivation will make me stand out or at least help my chances?
2) How would you candidly assess the strength of my profile and application at the schools I mentioned? If you were to add or remove any schools, what would they be?
3) Any concerns with using one former supervisor recommendation and one nonprofit management recommendation? I know work is typically preferred but I am sure I can get a stellar rec from my nonprofit president and that it also speaks to my goals.
4) Any other concerns with my profile or general recommendations for improvement?
Your response is eagerly awaited and appreciated!