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New Memeber Looking to Establish a Game Plan [#permalink]
16 Jul 2006, 09:49
Hello Scott and Omari,
I am a new member on this forum. I recently finished the book Your MBA Gameplan and would like to work on my own game plan for earning an MBAâ€”hence, my decision to join this community and the reason for this post.
I'd like to get your advice before posting an in-depth profile of my academic and professional career. Here's a quick snapshot of my profile:
I attended St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida, cumulative GPA a perfect 4.0/4.0, major in finance and minor in economics (I finished my four-year degree in three years).
My work history is sort of choppy as I have worked mostly in sales-oriented jobs.
I have just over three years in the mortgage industry thus far; I worked as a processor, loan originator, and underwriter.
Currently, I am on a team of three individuals who will be building out our secondary marketing division for my current company.
I have very little in terms of extracurricular activities when I was in school.
GMAT still not taken, although I will be studying for it.
Plan on applying to business schools in one to two years from now (I'm 25, turning 26 in December, so I feel I have time)
No involvement in community service; I do plan, however, to volunteer as a tutor at a local community college for a start.
Obviously I have some major holes in my profile, which is why I want to spend at least a year or two fixing up these problems so that I can be a well-rounded candidate.
Why do I want to earn an MBA? Well, to begin with, I would like to build a solid foundation in finance. My goal is to work in a marketplace like New York City or Chicago. Being that I am in the mortgage field and I will be working in secondary marketing, I believe an MBA would serve as a platform for understanding the dynamics of the mortgage-backed securities market, and what the implications are from a global macro-economic perspective. Hedging strategies are integral to managing a portfolio of mortgage loans that will be sold to Wall Street, and therefore I would like expand my knowledge of derivatives. Outside of the quantitative reasons, I would like to immerse myself in a multi-cultured environment (I have hardly any international experience), and would like build my skills in management.
My dream schools would include Columbia, NYU, and Chicago, but I also looked at Rochester, Vanderbilt, and the University of Maryland.
There's more to the story, but please advise on my current situation and if I am able to take the steps necessary to attend a top program. Again, time is no issue, and I'm willing wait as long as necessary before applying.
I can provide a more detailed profile if necessary.
You've definitely identified the steps you need to take in order to have a shot at a top school, which is great. I do think that your lack of extracurriculars/community service will keep you out of those top schools unless you do something about it. So, you're doing the right thing. Get AT LEAST one year of real community service (by "real" I mean making a real impact, like we describe in the book).
Even then, you're still starting from behind, so Columbia & Chicago will be a stretch, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply to them. Just know that the competition will be tough. I like your safety schools... Look like good choices.
Anyway, you know what you need to do... Now do it!
Thank you for your reply. I understand my weaknesses and that's why I will act on them. My first goal is to get studying for the GMAT. I plan to allocate at least 3-4 months for studying before setting foot in a testing center. And as I had mentioned, I will get my community service in gear. I may even read your book a couple more times to stay focused on my game plan.
You mentioned I should have at least one year of "real" community service involvement. Would it be wise, perhaps, to wait at least two years to apply (I would be 27, going on to 28) to rack up a more substantive background in community service?
Last, but not least, with reference to my list of schools, do you think Cornell would be somewhat of a realistic option? I know I never attended a "name brand" school, so to speak, so I realize my limits if I were to apply to an elite school. Also, I forgot to add the University of Florida to my list of safety schools.
Yes, I think waiting a year to gain some good experience is a good idea. Many applicants are too impatient to wait, which gives an even bigger advantage to those who are willing to wait and put in the extra time and effort.
Yes, I do think Cornell is another good option for you. Don't get too hung up on the "name brand" of yoru undergrad... What you've accomplished is far more important than where you've worked or gone to school!
I want to post a little follow up since we last spoke. I recently signed up to volunteer as a tutor for a local community college. The subjects on which I will be tutoring include algebra, accounting, and computer applications. I start August 27, and will be tutoring every Sunday from 12:00-4:00. I also decide how long I will be tutoring for the school--which, in my case, will probably be for at least year, if not longer.
Additionally, I have been promoted to a supervisory position at my company and have been entrusted with training new account executives for our banking division.
Overall, I think these are positive steps in strengthening two aspects of my application: community service and leadership. With reference to the former, I have many more volunteering opportunities available in the community college. However, would you suggest "diversifying," so to speak, by performing additional community service activities outside the academic world, or is there hardly any difference in the eyes of an admissions officer? And in terms of the latter, what are some of the qualities I should keep in mind, so that I continue on building up my leadership strengths to an admissions committee? I don't want to fall into the trap of being a leader in name only.
Lastly, I've worked for 6 companies within the past 4 1/2 years--5 if you count only the ones in the mortgage banking field. I've approached one year with my current company so far. If in 3-6 months I were to come across a better opportunity, with better pay, benefits (I have no health insurance now), and more responsibility in terms of leadership, will a 7th company on my resume hurt my profile? In other words, will it seem like I've been job hopping?
In terms of what other community service opportunities to pursue, I don't think that you need to diversify. If other things truly interest you, then go and do them, but overall I'd actually recommend focusing and showing a passion for one thing -- in this case, teaching. Adcomms are more interested in people who make a real impact in one area than people who do a little bit here and a little bit there.
RE: types of experiences, remember what we say in the book... You want to show how you made a real impact, went beyond the norm, made things happen that wouldn't have happened without you, etc. Teaching is good, but designing a new courseor launching a new program at the school is even better, to offer to examples.
RE: job hopping... Yeah, at first brush I probably would think of you as a job hopper. I don't know what the norm is in your industry, but preferably you can show some permanence, rather than immediately bailing at the first chance you get. (Why does this matter? Remember... Adcomms want to see you make an IMPACT, and it's hard to do that when you keep switching jobs!) Stepping up in terms of a leadership opportunity would be a good move, but moving to make a few extra thousand dollars a year probably wouldn't be.
Thanks for the reply. I concur with your opinion. In fact, I will remain with my company as it is experiencing strong growth in business and I am involved in many important day-to-day projects. By the time I apply for admission, I will have about 3 years notched in my belt with my current employer--4 years if you count up to actually beginning attendance or matriculation.
On a side note, the reason why I have been through so many companies in the past is because I spent most of my time in sales-related work--something that I never expected when I was in college. My first job was in life insurance, which I hated. For the second job, I worked with a homebuilder as a processor and loan officer for one year, then got burned out from constant 7-day work weeks. My next stop was retail banking, followed by mortgage brokering, mortgage underwriting, and, currently, secondary marketing. Obviously, I'm giving a somewhat crude description of my work history; I'm sure you see my point, nonetheless.
Teaching is definitely a passion, which is why I have offered to design a formal training program for new hires at my company--outside of my current job responsibility.
At any rate, I appreciate your thoughts and will keep this information in mind on my journey.
I've got some recent bad news. Unfortunately, due to a reshuffling of management structure, I lost my job with my recent employer. I'm looking for a new job right now in the same industry.
My question is, how much does this hurt my chances in the eyes of a business school? I had just completed over a year with this company before being let go. It's kind of frustrating dealing with this matter as I had hoped for some stability to strengthen my resume.
Very sorry to hear it. I can't sa yfor certain how much it will hurt you, but obvisouly it won't help. The best thing you can do is focus on what you accomplished on the job, briefly explain why you lost the job, tell them what you're doing NOW (whether it's starting your own thing, seeking a new job, or volunteering), and emphasize your reasons for wanting an MBA (i.e., that you don't want to go to school just because you're out of work).
Definitely don't dwell on the negatives or make excuses. Your overall, ten- to twenty-year plan shouldn't really have changed based this one small setback, so neither should your overall game plan.