Thanks in advance to anyone willing to evaluate and respond.
25 year old male, international background (grew up in US and Japan), US Citizen
GMAT: 730 (96th percentile) - V45 (98th percentile), Q45 (74th percentile)
GPA: 3.38 overall from a top 20 Liberal Arts College - Double major in East Asian Studies (Mandarin Chinese, 3.67 GPA) and Economics (3.0 GPA)
Work Experience: 2.5 years in Compliance at two top asset management firms
I am concerned about my chances because of two potential weaknesses. The first is my Economics GPA; although my overall GPA is seemingly average (or slightly below average) for top programs, my economics GPA is a bit low at 3.0, and my performance in the two quantitative courses I took (Statistics and Calculus) was not strong (I got a C+ in Statistics and took Calculus Pass/Fail). How much of a problem will this be? I have a strong GMAT score, but my quantitative percentile is not stellar. I am considering re-taking statistics and calculus at a local college to mitigate the damage.
My second concern is that I have very little in the way of ECs and no volunteer work/community involvement. The only EC I have is from my undergrad senior year, when I joined a program that essentially was a “mini business school experience”; I led a team that evaluated and presented a HBS case-study and performed an equity analysis, leading to a buy/hold/sell recommendation. I have no prior volunteer experience; although I realize it may come off as contrived, I have signed up for a few volunteer events over the next several months. I am hoping that having something is better than nothing.
In terms of WE, I graduated in May, 2007 and first moved to Chicago, where I was unable to find a job; I ended up moving to NYC in Feb, 2008 and began working in March of 2008 as a Compliance Specialist at a large Asset Management Firm (~$300 billion AUM). In my first position, I conducted forensic reviews on a wide range of topics, covering areas such as marketing materials, RFPs and trade allocation. I was also responsible for employee Compliance training (covering topics such as Personal Trading, disclosure of accounts, communication with media, etc). I was laid off in February, 2009 and began my current position in March in Compliance at another large Asset Management Firm (~$ 600+ billion AUM), this time focusing on personal trade surveillance/reconciliation and code of ethics administration (disclosure of outside business activity, political contributions, private investments, etc). I am also responsible for employee training at my current position. My current position is more focused than my previous job and is much more high-pressure, fast-paced and full of short-deadline projects.
I am interested in getting my MBA in order to transition from Compliance to Investment Banking; although I enjoy what I currently do, I would like the opportunity to work on the business side in deals and interact with clients. What I enjoy the most about my current job is meeting new employees through Compliance training as well as acting as a resource for employees throughout the firm by handling Compliance-related questions and requests. I am a strong communicator and I feel that I could be more valuable to an employer and more fulfilled on a personal level by working on deals and (eventually) winning over clients.
Any input on my chances at the schools I listed would be greatly appreciated.
You have evaluated your weaknesses well. I share your concerns about your econ GPA when combined with the so-so quant score. I also feel that taking stats and calc again and earning A's in both will do a lot to ease possible concerns about your quant skills. I also agree that your lack of extra-curriculars is a weakness at these top programs. Something is better than nothing, but it may not be enough at the elite schools you are aiming for. If I were you, rather than a smattering of activities and causes, choose one and make a commitment to spend time or contribute effort -- to make a difference by assuming responsibility over a period of time. That will make more of an impression from an admissions point of view. Choose something that reflects your values and talents.
Here is my assessment of your chances at these schools based on your post:
-- Big stretch
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