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Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 04 Mar 2014, 09:17
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About Critical Square


From everyone at Critical Square, I’d like to share how excited we are to be joining the GMAT Club community. From answering your questions here to providing the services and results to get you where you’re going, our firm is dedicated to your success.

Behind every success story at Critical Square is a friendship between an applicant and one of our dedicated, full-time consultants. No contractors. No part-timers. We provide more than just admissions advice because we’re more than just admissions consultants - we're friends and mentors. At Critical Square, we’re proud of what drives us and the impact we have. Our admissions expertise, commitment to our clients, and uncompromising ethics work together to deliver exceptional results. Extensive experience and unique insights translate into a truly differentiated application.

There are a lot of things that set us apart from the other admissions consulting firms out there. We’re pretty unique! We don’t compromise when it comes to your best interests – even if that means we don’t get to work together. So what does it come down to? Expertise, passion, and integrity in everything we do.

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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2014, 07:26
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Entrepreneurship | Picking the Right MBA Program



It seems nowadays “entrepreneurship” and “MBA” are synonymous. After all, an MBA can be the perfect environment to explore the entrepreneurial scene, gain access to the support and resources you need, and get your idea off the ground!

However, given the recent “entrepreneurial” craze at the top programs, how do you figure out which ones are right for you? Where you’ll not only get the opportunities you’re looking for, but the environment and support you’ll need? Entrepreneurship isn’t as cut and dry as most other fields. There are a lot of factors at play and considering them all is part art and part science. So what should you look for? In this blog post, we list out a few of the main factors and what they mean in the real world.

Before you read the rest of this post, ask yourself this: what do YOU want out of the entrepreneurial scene? Are you looking to work for a start up or are you looking to start your own? If the former, what stage start up? Are you after 5 people around a table in a garage or something with Series B or C funding? If it’s your own venture you’re interested in, do you have an idea? Do you need access to specific resources? Funding? Be honest with yourself here. And, if you don’t know, that’s ok too!

Reputation

Let’s go after the 800lb gorilla first. Reputation matters, but not as much or as evenly as you might think. At the end of the day, going to a top tier school opens doors. There’s a reason why such a large percentage of executive teams in the start up world have Harvard and Stanford alum. However, that doesn’t mean you HAVE to go to a top 3 school. Many of the top 20 programs out there have amazing entrepreneurship programs and strong reputations to boot. So yes, rankings and prestige matter. But once you’re in the top 20, or 15, or 10, or 5, the incremental benefit of another notch or two is insignificant. That’s when the rest of the factors come into play!

Personal Enablement

You’re going to get your MBA for a lot of reasons. You want to learn, meet people, and explore new things. So pick a program that, above all else, enables those core personal goals. If you find yourself lacking knowledge of some core business functions then you probably need a strong general management program. If you’re targeting consumer products starts up, then try to find programs that have a strong brand in that space. And don’t forget about fit! The entrepreneurial community starts out big and narrows quickly. You’re going to be in a core group of a few dozen (depending on the size of the program). These are going to be your future core network. The rest of your class is equally important and will have the contacts and networks you’ll need as an entrepreneur. Make sure you like the people and culture!

Location

This is one of the more important factors but it is NOT the end all, be all. It really isn’t. If you’re interested in tech start ups, you’re probably gravitating to the west coast. And you should! Being next door to Silicon Valley and in the heart of the global entrepreneurial community is probably going to be great! But have you considered Austin? Or Boston? Or New York? Or Chicago? Each of these locations has a lot to offer. Austin, for example, is one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial communities ANYWHERE. There are start up opportunities everywhere so don’t just go out west because that’s what you think you should be doing. Be self aware and find out what’s right for you and your life. And just because you go to school somewhere other than the west coast doesn’t mean you can’t wind up out there. Almost every top program organizes treks out west to get their students plugged into those communities. Will it require a little more work on your part? Yes, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’re starting your own company, make sure there is money to be had!

Also, what kind of a person are you? Do you do better in smaller networks or larger ones? Do you want your school to be a center of gravity in the local ecosystem so that it can open doors for you or do you like a bustling scene where you’re mostly on your own? Chicago and New York City, for example, are two very different ecosystems!

Program Opportunities

Does the program you’re targeting embrace entrepreneurship in all its forms? Has it built its program to support it? More importantly, does it provide you with the opportunities you need? For example, almost every top program has a business plan competition but do a little research to separate the real heavy weights from the more generic competitions. Additionally, some programs offer summer internship funding if you’d like to intern with a start up. Others offer in-year internships with VC firms which can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Some provide curriculum flexibility and deceleration options too!

These are just some of the factors to consider. There are a ton of others! But hopefully you’re beginning to see there’s a lot that goes into picking the right entrepreneurship program and only some of it is based on rankings and prestige.

If you’re interested in start ups and want to chat, sign up for a free consultation with us here. We’d love to speak with you!

For more great content and free resources, visit our website.

As always, if you have questions, let us know!

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2014, 07:12
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Please join me in welcoming Critical Square Admissions Consulting Team to the forum!

The founder of Critical Square, Bhavik, already has a well-established profile on GMAT Club with 400 helpful posts. I encourage you to add Critical Square to your consideration and if you are looking for an admissions consultant, do not hesitate to ask them for a free profile evaluation in this thread - they will be happy to provide you with one.

Critical Square put together an exclusive discount for GMAT Club members - to see the latest offer for GMAT Club members, please visit this here: http://gmatclub.com/blog/courses/critic ... discounts/. In a few months or weeks, you can check out the reviews section to find feedback from past and current clients; to see reviews, please visit here: http://gmatclub.com/reviews/critical-square-345345645
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2014, 07:27
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2014, 08:35
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Thanks for the warm welcome BB and Souvik. We've really enjoyed becoming a part of the community here and are excited to take our involvement to the next level.

As BB mentioned, if you have any questions or are looking for an objective and thorough perspective on your profile, let us know! We're here to help each and every one of you - this is a complex process and we're going to try to make it a little easier.

Can't wait to hear from y'all!

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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 11 Mar 2014, 19:12
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 16 Mar 2014, 03:02
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Welcome on gmatclub!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 25 Mar 2014, 17:26
Hi Critical Square,

I am wondering if you can give me some thoughts on my profile. I will apply in Fall 2014, and plan on matriculating in Fall 2015. Below are my details:

Male, African-American, 26 years old

Education:
GPA: 3.17 at Howard University
Major: Chemical Engineering
GMAT: 730 (Q46 and V44)

Work Experience:
I graduated in 05/2010 and started working in 07/2010 for a top multinational oil company (think Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron). After going through training I became a downstream business analyst in 02/2011. While in this role I have continued to gain responsibility while leading improvements in reporting and analysis for my group. At the moment, I am up for a promotion, and would expect to have this position secured prior to round 1 applications.

Hence, I will have about 4 years of working experience by the time I apply and 5 years when I start the program in Fall 2015

Extra-curricular Activities:
Few Clubs and Intramural Sports in undergrad. Since graduating, I have been an active member of my company's recruiting team for my alma mater. Additionally, I have served as Special Events coordinator for a company affinity group, and am an active member of my company's Toastmasters Club. Outside of work, I am heavily involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, where I currently serve as a board member, focusing primarily on club fundraising as well as programming and events for the children. Lastly, I am now an MLT Fellow after gaining admission to Management Leadership for Tomorrow's most recent MBA Prep class.

Career Goals:
After the MBA, I would like to go into Management Consulting with a speciality in Energy, and gain exposure to the innovation within this sector.(Renewables, Fracking, etc)

I do understand that my GPA is on the low side, and I plan on taking a quantitative course or two to help mitigate that. Additionally, I hope that my GMAT score/work experience/extracurriculars can help offset my GPA. As of now I plan on applying to HBS, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Tuck(consortium), Ross(consortium), and Fuqua. In your opinion, does my GPA put these programs out of reach? Also are there any other programs that you recommend that I consider?

I really appreciate the feedback, and look forward to hearing from you soon!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 26 Mar 2014, 07:09
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Hi chemE42,

Thanks for reaching out! I'm happy to give you my thoughts on your profile. Also, thanks in advance for all the detail - definitely makes this a little easier and a lot more productive! So what I'll do is talk about your profile across four major buckets (which will address some of your questions / concerns) and then I'll wrap it up with a quick discussion about schools. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about what I've written, don't hesitate to ask. If you want to chat in more detail, feel free to sign up for a free consultation [here].

Ok, enough of that - let's get into this!

[Academics]

First off - GREAT job on the GMAT! Also, you have a pretty strong split so that's just the icing on the cake! From an undergrad perspective, you're on ok footing. Howard is a well known university especially within historically black programs. It's not a tier 1 university in terms of prestige but it's a solid tier 2. Also, you pursued a pretty difficult major so that'll work in your favor. ChemE isn't easy and engineering degrees in general get a slight consideration boost for the GPA to factor that in. That said, the raw GPA is still important not only because that is what is reported but because other applicants are also getting that bump and chances are their GPA might be higher to begin with. At the end of the day, your GPA is a yellow flag so let's just call a spade a spade. It's great that you're working on taking courses to build up your quant side but that goes with the assumption that your quant is what is weak. From your GMAT Q score alone, that doesn't SEEM to be the case. However, what drove the 3.17 GPA? If it was quant related courses, then this makes sense.

[Professional Experiences]

Big name on the resume? Check. Progression? Probably a check too. So you have some of the basics ticked off but it's difficult to figure out what exactly you've done. You've yadi yadi yada'd over the best part with, "continued to gain responsibility"! What has your impact been? What is the scope of your activities? Any leadership? If so, is it project leadership or team leadership? Will the promotion include a headcount? I'm going to use the rest of your profile as a proxy and go out on a limb to say you probably have a pretty strong professional profile but a little more detail would be great! Also, do you have any MBA alum in your personal networks to use as recommenders? Not a necessity but good info to have.

[Community Involvement]

This is definitely one of the stronger parts of your profile relative to your peerset. It's a little light in undergrad but that doesn't matter in terms of raw commitment. I'd love to know what the "few clubs" were because that can help establish passions and trajectory. I like your involvement within the company especially the recruiting component. Is the affinity group associated with diversity? In that case, that's a great continuation. Toastmasters, while fine, isn't a differentiator but that's ok. I love your board position for the Boys & Girls club! Your involvement is definitely above average and seems to have a common thread that ties it all together - which is the best part!

[Goals]

Your goals are fairly generic and slightly at odds. For example, if you go into mgmt consulting, you'll probably get exposure to the industry. But will it be exposure to innovation? Who knows? There's no way to ensure that. There's not guarantee you'll even be staffed in energy. Your first project could be CPG or healthcare for all you know. If your goal is innovation, you're better joining an innovation group for an established energy company. Or you could join a boutique consulting firm which might improve your chances but, once again, no guarantees. Or you could join an innovation consulting group that MIGHT have exposure to energy. But to get general management consulting with an innovation focus in energy is going to be really difficult to do. Also, you're not the first applicant who wants to go into consulting which is the generic part. Generic isn't bad, it just means your goals have to be really well thought out (that isn't a synonym for annoyingly specific so keep that in mind). Which is where the "at odds" component comes into play.

[Schools]

What I like about your list is you have a broad range of programs so you're definitely diversifying the risk. And they're all great programs to boot! The question, however, to you is - what are you looking for? So to the comments above about goals, are you looking for management consulting or energy or both? If it's the former, then it's a pedigree game that gives you the options you need. If it's either of the latter two, then you should perhaps consider schools that have strong energy presences. I won't get too much into schools if you're interested in gen mgmt consulting (we can do that later) but I'll provide some insight into energy. There are two options. One, you go for a regular MBA but focus on schools with great energy footprints or you go for dual degrees. You should put Berkeley, Stanfford, and Yale on your list. They have strong programs as well as dual degree options. Ross, Tuck, and a handful of others do too. But as you can see, your goals will drive schools. So what do you WANT out of your MBA?

Whew - that was a bit. Your turn - let me know your thoughts! Like I said, if you want to chat in more detail, feel free to sign up for a free consultation [here].
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2014, 08:33
Hi Critical Square!

Can you take a look at my profile please? I’d love to get your thoughts on it. I’m planning on applying this fall - probably round 1. I’m interested in Wharton, Kellogg, and Columbia.

Asian Male (US citizen)
GMAT: 720
GPA: 3.55
Undergrad: BS Engineering (from a top public engineering school in the US, think top 5 for my degree)
Work Exp: 3 years in management consulting at a tier 2 firm - focused on retail strategy but also have experience in CPG, travel, and transportation
Extracurriculars: very involved in undergrad - dedicated my time leading two separate organizations (investments committee and consulting club); after graduation, volunteered my time for a local pro bono consulting organization as well as local healthcare charity

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 28 Mar 2014, 10:26
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Hi there achanmba17!

Great to hear from you and I’m happy to give you our thoughts on your profile. First off – solid GMAT score! Congrats! It looks like you have the table set for some great experiences and you’ve done well from an academic standpoint. A 3.55 from a well known college in a tough degree is a good place to start! However, before we can really dig into the details, I’m going to need a LITTLE more info. If you wouldn’t mind answering the questions below, we’ll get you the answers you’re looking for!

1. Why do you want an MBA? What will you be focusing on in the program? Anything you’re really trying to accomplish?
2. What do you want to do afterwards? Short term? Long term?
3. What exactly have you DONE at work? Leadership? Impact? Scope?
4. How do you rank against your peer set? Consulting firms give out rankings – where do you fall?
5. It seems you were pretty involved in undergrad but what about since then? Most consulting firms require “firm involvement” of some variety or another – have you done any of that? Anything outside of the firm?

The more you share, the better!

Cheers,

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2014, 16:49
Thanks for the quick response Bhavik!

I want to get an MBA to focus on marketing strategy but also get a strong general management foundation. I’ve had a lot of great experiences in consulting but it’d be nice to just be back in school to learn the things I don’t know. Ultimately, I want to manage a portfolio of products in a retail company or maybe lead the innovation process of researching and developing new products. In the short term, I could see myself operating as a product manager as my first role out of business school. It would be great to get an internship as an associate product manager over the summer.

As far as my professional experience, I was an analyst for a year and was promoted to an associate. I’ve been in an associate role for two years now where I have led major workstreams on my client projects. The size of my team has ranged from 3-5. In this role I’m responsible for deliverables that are oftentimes delivered through a presentation to the executive team, so I have heavy experience interacting with the c-suite. As far as the scope of work, my main experience has been in developing omnichannel strategies for retail organizations. In recommending these strategies, my team typically finds opportunities to grow sales by 10-15%. I have also developed business cases and implemented a value realization plan for several of these strategies. My most recent project was to recommend an analytics strategy on how my retail client could leverage advanced analytics to improve sales and margin where my team identified a potential growth of up to 25% in revenue. From a rankings perspective, I’ve been in the top quartile throughout and the top 10% this past review cycle.

Internally, I have contributed a significant amount of intellectual capital. I was a co-contributor and directly responsible for developing accelerators for omnichannel engagements. These materials were leveraged on at least five other engagements and helped deliver over $10M in revenue. As far as pro-bono work, I have not had the chance to participate in any pro-bono engagements through my firm, however I have taken advantage of the opportunity to volunteer for a local organization that facilitates pro bono consulting engagements for non profit organizations in the local community. I dedicated an average of 4-5 hours a week for a total of 8 months (over the course of 2 years). I led a team of four other volunteers that redesigned the patient intake process at a nearby hospital. This new process reduced the outpatient stay by 35%. This, in turn, enabled the hospital staff to see a moderate boost in the number of patients per day.

Hope this paints a clearer picture of my experiences both inside and outside my firm.

Andrew
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 29 Mar 2014, 18:59
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Hi Andrew!

Thanks for the details on your professional experience! Very interesting – it also seems your resume is in pretty good shape (lots of numbers!). So let’s talk about your profile in 4 major buckets. Hopefully that’ll give you a better understanding of how you stack up:

Academics: You’re pretty good here. You went to a well-known institution, got a relatively difficult degree, did well, and have a pretty solid GMAT. For your applicant pool your academic profile is probably a little above average. Your GMAT is right at average but unless you absolutely crush it, it’ll never be a differentiator and, even then, the argument could be made it won’t help you THAT much. So you’re set there. What makes your academic profile a little above average, however, is where you went and how you did. Engineering’s also considered a more difficult field of study so they’ll factor that in. Your GPA gets a little consideration bump because of that.

Professionally: Once again, you’re on pretty solid ground here. You’re not exactly differentiated in terms of career or industries – there are other consultants out there. But you seem to have both leadership and impact that’ll help set you apart. Also, your performance seems great relative to your peer set. So you’re clearly one of the top quartile performers at a tier two firm which is above average. Also, I really like your focus on a particular offering / set of industries. You seem pretty deep there especially when it comes to your thought leadership.

Extracurriculars: You’re a little light here in a structured sense but I think there’s more here that you probably aren’t considering. For example, white papers are community involvement but just within the firm – that counts! I like your work with the hospital and the fact that you led teams. You clearly had an impact there and that’s great. However, from a pure involvement standpoint you seem a little below average. That isn’t the end of the world, however. Also, you have some great experiences in undergrad! We can play those up.

Goals: I like your goals – they’re realistic and ambitious. They’re a clear extension of the work you’ve been doing and you have a logical A > B > C path laid out. Also, they aren’t up in the clouds in that you haven’t said, “I want to be the CEO of a leading consumer products company.” They’re not exactly crazy imaginative or ground breaking either but that’s ok. They’re logical, show clear thought, and make sense. So they’re definitely something we can work with!

So based on the above, you’re a pretty good fit for some of the schools you’ve listed. Some make more sense than others, however. Also, you’ve taken on a lot of risk – you should consider diversifying it a smidge. Applying to a top 3, top 5, and a top 10 isn’t exactly spreading out your chances. Also, there are other programs out there that could be much better fits for your goals. Not to mention, one of the most critical parts of your application is to develop a story throughout your application - resume, essays, LORs, interviews, and, last but certainly not least, the app itself!

Hopefully this information was useful for you. I’d love to take a deeper dive into your candidacy. When you’re ready, visit us here and sign up for a free consultation. We can schedule a call for us to chat and it will give me a chance to get to know you better so I can give you a more accurate assessment. I can walk you through my thoughts and answer any questions you might have. Best of luck and hopefully chat soon!

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 30 Mar 2014, 08:36
Thanks again Bhavik! I couldn’t agree more that story is key. It would be great to talk to you about school selection. I also have a few follow up questions about the sections above! I’ll sign up for a consultation today. Looking forward to it!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2014, 08:07
Hi Critical Square,

Thanks in advance for looking at my profile – I’m wondering if you can let me know your thoughts on where I stand? I’m thinking about applying this fall and I’m pretty sure now’s the right time for me to go back. I’m kind of starting to plateau where I am currently and I think an MBA would be a great way to see what’s out there. I’ll be honest – I’m not quite sure what I want to do so I’m mostly looking at schools that are more general. I know a lot of the app comes down to story so I’m probably going to have do some work on that. That all said, here’s a little about me:

I’m African American, male, 27 – I grew up in Virginia and went to the University of Maryland. Studied accounting. Did pretty decently – 3.75. Took my GMAT a couple of weeks ago and got a 690 (should I retake it?). After graduating I went to one of the Big 4 with a focus on consumer products companies. I’ve been ranked pretty highly when it comes to annual reviews. It’s not really high burn so I’ve gotten involved outside of work. I’m on the board of a local Habitat chapter – it’s not a huge one which is kind of how I got on the board in the first place but we put up a decent number of homes ever year. I’m also a co-founder of a small start-up. We started it last year and it’s focused on local eating and fresh food. We haven’t had too much time to dedicate to it so while it’s growing it’s still kind of small.

Like I said, I’m not really sure what I want to do but some of the schools on my radar are Ross, Haas, Anderson, Stanford, and Kellogg. The list looks a little random because it is. I want to head west but I’m not too picky on if I end up in the midwest or the west coast.

So I guess my questions are:

1) How does my profile look? Anything I should work on over the next few months?
2) Should I retake my GMAT?
3) Any other schools I should be considering?

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2014, 11:02
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Hey mate,

Seems you’re new around these parts so welcome to GMAT Club! I definitely understand your reasoning for going back for your MBA and why you think now’s the right time. That’s a pretty common reason, actually, when it comes to professional services. I also appreciate the fact that you’re upfront with yourself about not knowing where you want to go or what you want to do. Obviously, you can’t structure a story around that but it’d be more helpful to get to the bottom of what you WANT before we worry about what to tell an adcom. The best stories are, after all, based on truth!

You have a pretty good profile. Your academics are pretty solid. 3.75 is a great GPA. You went to a pretty well regarded institution. Your GMAT isn’t exactly stellar but, given your status as underrepresented, it cuts you a little slack. If you have the time and you want to retake it, go for it. What was your split? If your verbal was what was keeping your score down, then a little improvement could make a big difference. A score that starts with a “7” would be great and I think you probably have a 20 – 30 point improvement in you.

From a professional stand point, you work at a well-known firm and if I use your performance evals as a proxy, you’ve done well and probably had projects that stretched your role. I also like how you’re focused on CPG – even if you don’t want to stay in that industry, you’ve probably had exposure across it. Which is good experience to have, right? Extracurricularly, you have some interesting involvement. It’s impressive you’re on a board with Habitat – that’s hard to do. Is it a junior board position? I also like the start up. What do you for it? Is there a possibility that what you’ve started there is indicative of some passion you might have for your career?

So I’ve answered (as it were) #1 and #2 in a broad sense. As for #3 (which schools) – well that’s harder to do. I like how you’re keeping the pool focused on general programs and how you’re looking across the rankings which keeps things balanced and realistic. But you’re also right in that you’ve kept it seemingly arbitrary. Location plays a big role in decisions so I don’t want to marginalize it. But there’s a lot more that goes into picking the programs than just where it is.

Here’s what I would suggest – we have a page on our website under Free Resources called [Choosing Programs]. It’s not an exhaustive list of what to look for in programs but it’s a great place to start. Look through it and think about what’s most important to you. We also have school profiles you can look through to learn more about the programs out there and what they’re known for.

The big thing here is you have a pretty strong profile and you’re thinking about the next steps in the right way. Like I said, if you can, retake the GMAT. Other than that, keep kickin’ butt both at and outside of work. Your trajectory is set so spend the next few weeks doing a little research and soul searching. Think about where you want to go and what you want to do. Then, if you want to chat about specific programs or the path ahead, let us know! We’re happy to talk things out with you!

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2014, 13:02
Hi Bhavik - thanks for the super detailed response! Yeah, I think I'm going to retake the GMAT. I've gotten that advice before. I didn't really study the first time around so I think with a little work I could bump it over the 700 mark. My split was pretty even actually. I'm glad you think the rest of my profile is in good shape though. I was kind of nervous about it - it doesn't really seem all that...unique.

As for schools, you're right when you said my list was pretty arbitrary. I've been reading through these forums and those schools get mentioned a lot. And heading out to the Bay Area sounds like fun! I checked out the link in your post - that is going to be REALLY helpful I think. I'm going to have to go through it over the weekend when I have a little more time. I think it'd be a good idea to figure out what schools I'm targeting in the next month or two so I can get started on apps with plenty of time. Thanks again and I'll be in touch soon!
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2014, 08:25
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Image

Let’s start with the important things – we’re huge fans of Game of Thrones at Critical Square. So please forgive us our corny title – it is nothing more than a poorly executed homage to R. R. Martin and in response to the premier last night!

All joking aside, it is the season of the Admit Weekends. With R2 applications complete and decisions rendered, it’s now your turn to be the choosey one. If you’re lucky enough to have been admitted to more than one program, the difficult decision of where you’re going to spend the next two years of your life is all too real. Well, we like to help. Here are three main things you should be looking to get a good feel for while you’re visiting!

The Folks Around You

Fit is CRITICAL. It’s the MOST important thing you should be assessing. Hopefully you did a little bit of this before you applied (cough cough, school visits) but now you’re about to put $180K on the line. LIKE THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. It’s easy to get swept away in the general excitement. And it IS exciting. You’re all accepted to this amazing school and they’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you to try and get you to commit. Socials and happy hours and amazing stats, oh my! But keep your head level and make a concerted effort to meet as many of your potential future classmates as possible. Do you like them? Are they interesting? Are they driven? This is the network you are buying. Does it seem like a great investment?

Career Enablement

You’re going to get your MBA for a reason. Whatever that reason might be, it’s the light at the end of your tunnel. Are you trying to get into consulting or investment banking? Or are you trying to start up your own company or work out in the bay area. Regardless of what your goals are, talk to students who are doing that right now. Learn about the process and figure out what support they had. What did they wish could have been improved? What were their lessons learned? What have they heard from their friends at other programs? When you hit the ground in the fall, you won’t have time to figure this out then. Make sure you’re making the right decision now!

The City

This might seem silly but it’s a really important component of the admit weekend. What do you think of the city itself? Is it a place you’d like to spend two years of your life? Does it match your personality? If you’re a big city kind of animal and you’re looking at a school in a small mid-Atlantic city, make sure you will enjoy it. The last thing you want is to get a few months into your MBA experience and realize you hate it there. So maybe extend your trip a day or two (if you can) and go exploring like Dora. Meet the locals. Check out the areas students live in.

Admit weekends are an amazing opportunity to explore the program and the city before you make a significant but exciting investment. Make the most of them. Go prepared. Good luck to you all and, as always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Want more great information? Check out Our Blog and our Free Resources.

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 09 Apr 2014, 11:57
Hi Bhavik,

I'm very impressed by the detail and quality of responses that you've given to others. Here's where I stand:

I matriculated from college a year ago and plan on applying in 2 more (for a total of 3 years of experience at time of application)

Academic:
BA Quantitative Economics, minor in Math from a top 50 US Undergrad Bschool
3.74 GPA, 3.9 in-major, 3.9 in-minor
Econ medal winner (highest avg in economics)
740 GMAT (With some studying and retake, I could bring this to a 770+... but I'm not sold on the value of doing so)

Work:
Middle-office financial control (credit risk management) role at a top-2 Bulge Bracket bank (MS/Goldman)
Doing a great job so far. Natural leader so I'm always taking initiative w/ more responsibility, projects, etc. I'll just continue to work hard and should have very strong letters of rec

Extracurricular:
On a charity committee at work to increase participation in our office. It's quickly becoming a passion. I also regularly volunteer with 4 charities.

My greatest weakness:
Nothing "gold-plated" on my resume. Great academic track record at a non-target school. Great employer in a non-target role.

Fun facts:
I am an avid guitarist and also very involved with health and fitness. Perhaps there is a way to work some of this in as a plus.

Synopsis:
I am very interested in moving into a corporate strategy (read: think tank) or corporate development role. I am hoping for Columbia early decision and will also be applying to Wharton and Tuck as reach schools. More in my "range" (I hope) are Duke and UVA.

What are my odds? What can I improve? I am all ears and am open to ideas.
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Re: Ask Critical Square [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2014, 11:17
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Hi there,

Thanks so much for the kind words and I'm glad you reached out! I'd be happy to give you my perspective on your profile and some pointers for the years ahead.

FIRSTLY - pour yourself a drink of choice and toast your awesome GMAT score! You're done - don't even think about retaking it. You're good to go here! :)

Ok - so to your profile:

Academics: You've done really well here. You've got as strong an academic component as it's realistic to imagine. The only way this would be any better is if you went to an ivy league school. That'd be an incremental improvement. You did really well here - great GPA, great GMAT, top of the heap when it comes to your peers, and brand name university (if not tier 1).

Professionally: You have a great name on your resume and that's to be expected given how your undergrad turned out. It's difficult to figure out what "natural leader" and "taking more initiative" actually translate to but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you're kickin' butt and taking names. From a role / function perspective, it's solid but average. Credit risk management is important, sure, but not sexy. So when it comes to professional experiences (well, any experience, actually) you either need to be different or the best. In your case you'll want to go for the best. You aren't doing some crazy finance stuff so you'll never be different. But plan to blow the rest of the middle office financial folks out of the water.

Involvement: Hmm, this is difficult to figure out with the detail you've provided. It's good you're involved within your company but the description seems vague and it doesn't seem to be a leadership position yet. Also, what do you do for these 4 other charities? There's volunteering and then there's making an impact. So what are you up to in detail outside of your 9 - 5 job?

Goals: Let's not worry too much about this right now in specifics. However, if your goal IS to go into the strategy side then you need to make sure your experiences in your job lend itself to that goal. Not only does the school need to buy your goals, but future recruiters do too. So if I'm in corporate strategy and I see your resume, will I think to myself, "now here's a guy we should interview!"

So some general thoughts:

1) While you might not have anything gold plated, some of it is definitely silver plated. Don't sell yourself short!
2) I don't really know what you're up to in terms of community involvement - feel free to fill me in there
3) When it comes to your job, you really need to get the experiences and leadership a recruiter would want to see - what have you been up to in your 1st year? What do you see coming up for the next year?
4) If you are an avid guitarist and a health nut, then see if you can tie those into your community involvement - e.g. helping children with music, etc. - use your passions to do good and a story will follow!
5) From a school perspective, you have a good range which is good. In terms of which specific programs or what your chances are - well, it's a little too early to have that conversation. A lot of that will come down to the meat of your experiences which won't be set for another year or two. But I like how you're thinking about "range" - shows maturity!

Ok - so those are my thoughts at first pass. I have some questions above as well as some general comments. Let me know your thoughts and any follow up questions! I'm here to help!

Bhavik
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Re: Ask Critical Square   [#permalink] 10 Apr 2014, 11:17
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