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Need your honest advice on approach

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Need your honest advice on approach [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2009, 10:17
Hi Alex,

I always read your advice, and find them very enlightening. I hope you can help me out a bit.

Just to give you some background on myself -
1) I'm asian :|
2) 6 years of Work Experience in Wall Street Brokerage firms doing IT program management; currently managing a small team. I don't code.
3) Decent record in extracurricular activies, and hobbies (in my opinion :-))
4) GMAT - 670 (Q46, V37), AWA 6.0
5) GPA Undergrad from Big Ten public university - 3.5 overall, my business major was 3.8 I believe.

Throughout my essays, I'm working hard to break the "asian" stereotype. I mean, I don't play the piano, violin, and suck at math. So that's a start right? ;-) I do have leadership activties, such as managing not just at work, but also some outside activities. So my goal is to show that I'm a very well rounded individual.

As I started working on my essays, few things came up:

1) I made the switch from Engineering to Business my 2nd year of Undegrad, primarily because I just hated Engineering. I'm also not the most Quantitative person (V46 on GMAT) either. I can definitely spin this in the positive light, especially in regards to lessons learned through introspections about life and failure (honestly, it was definitely one of the best decisions I've made in my life to date). However, you already know that Engineering is a much more academically demanding field than business, though that is not the reason why I "quit". Will the Adcom's bias on this come back to haunt me? Will they say that I was not able to hang in with engineering, rather than see that it took courage admit a mistake and then turn things all around. I believe my story of WHY I switched is good, but I'm not sure whether it's worth the risk anymore of telling. But I presume they'll look through my transcript anyway and figure it out. Those adcoms are smart :-)

Question: I'm wondering whether mentioning why I switched majors during my undergrad is a good idea, and whether there is a better way of telling the story.

2) I'm applying to HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Chicago, NYU, with aspirations in learning about the front office trading business to one day further develop technology to deliver to clients (you have to understand their needs before you can deliver). I've been with technology a long time, and it fits in my long term goals. I'm looking to remain in the big cities with finance intensive schools, hence my limited choices.

My long shots (no way you're getting in, but rather spend $250/each than wonder what if) are HBS, Wharton, Chicago.
My targets are Columbia, NYU

Question: What are my chances?

3) This is a pretty good summary of where I stand at the moment.

Question: What is your take? What do you think I need to focus and strengthen, knowing the bias that asians face? What else should I do?

Thanks again for insight.
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Re: Need your honest advice on approach [#permalink] New post 16 Jul 2009, 22:26
I can't tell you what to what to emphasize based on what you wrote, since it's something you'll have to discover on your own iteratively through the application process. It's not some plug 'n play recipe. As I've mentioned before, you could put 10 people with very similar resumes/backgrounds in the same room, and ask them to talk about themselves. Five will blend into one another, while the other five will come across as five distinct individuals, even if they talk about similar things. It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Some people are simply better at conveying their individuality than others.

Anyhow, your chances at HBS and Wharton are slim. It's not that there's anything of real concern about your profile (hint: you're way too preoccupied with what happened in undergrad) -- it's that nothing really pops out. To be honest, there's simply enough applicants competing for spots to these schools (who aren't exactly shoe ins) who simply have stronger resumes than you that you'll need a lot of luck to get in.

Focus on Chicago and Columbia as realistic stretches, and NYU, Yale and Cornell as sweet spots.
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Alex Chu
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Re: Need your honest advice on approach   [#permalink] 16 Jul 2009, 22:26
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