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To echo Ntang's questions from last year: do people view their non-trad backgrounds as an asset or a liability? Schools are paying a lot of lip service to people like us, but I wonder if they aren't just doing what they always do: highlighting outliers in order to seem different / better than their competitors.
I'm thinking it goes like this: if you take a banker and a non-trad side-by-side and otherwise their stats are very, very similar -- that's where the non-trad gets the edge. But I doubt coming from an atypical background automatically qualifies you as an URM or a "wow" or whatever.
Aenigma, some thoughts: I've had the opportunity to work with individuals from IB/MC (top 3). These same remarkable people were actually more "impressed" by my work experience/accomplishments, something I truly came to appreciate. While these folks may have the title/brand name employer, they don't necessarily have REAL impactful positions...
I think when adcom members go over applications, they seek diversity in the classroom. In fact, my visit to HBS confirmed this. While I did see your typical McKinsey/GS student, I met a lot from "no-name" companies (Pharma, Family Business, etc.). Ironically enough, one guy had a very similar background to me (Westerner who worked extensively in China, spoke Mandarin...)
I too I have had experiences where friends or acquaintances in more traditional lines of work have been like, "Oh, you work at [Foundation]? COOL! I would love to do that!" But of course even in interesting jobs it's rare to feel really gung-ho about the unglamorous day-to-day tasks, so I'm usually thinking that what THEY do seems much more impressive. (Probably 'cause they ballin'.)
I definitely share some of the same thoughts. I do admit that I often worry that adcom will automatically discard an application on such premises. It speaks immensely of a school's culture when it is open to interview/admit non-traditional applicants. I know S is extremely open to individuals who are diverse in background and have led meaningful life experiences (hence "What matters to you most"), whereas typical applications are solely about goals/accomplishments.
Ah, Stanford. If only there were more seats in that class...
Your comment reminds me, actually, that my recommenders (all non-trad) have totally hated on the business school admission process. They think most of the applications, as you note, focus too much on goals and accomplishments -- especially quantifiable accomplishments concerning money and management, which are almost impossible to ascertain in the work I do -- and not enough on potential and richness of experience. In this respect, they think law school recommendations are much more representative of a person's potential contribution to the field (not to mention they're much less onerous). This is, of course, debatable, but I think they make an interesting point.
I wonder how thoughtful AdComs are about perspectives like this.
I may be completely off here, but I would hypothesize that most non-traditional applicants don't need an MBA in the same way than traditional applicants do. For example, your typical IB/MC requires the degree to move up the ranks (if he/she so chose to stay in the same industry) whereas many non-traditional applicants either require it for career swtiching (just an example). This is highly debatable - however, in industries such as retail, CPG, etc. the MBA won't make much of a difference (as opposed to experience).
Ultimately, the MBA won't guarantee anything (for a traditional or non-traditional applicant). I honestly believe that most of the applicants on this board would do just fine without the degree...
I kind of worry about how my "non-tradional" background will affect me, because i don't come from the usual industries but also don't do anything that exotic. I work in property management and lease luxury apartments. I would like to make a move into brand management and even though I have 5 years experience in real estate, 3 years working for myself and another 2 working for a national re development and management company, i don't see a future in real estate for me.
Tghis is very much a high pressured sales position -- I make as much in commissions as I do in salary, and i'm good at what I do. I work with a really diverse and very international group of clients.
I also work in the fitness industry on the side, teaching group exercise.
I guess i'll find out soon enough...
Re: Nontraditional Applicant Thread
06 Mar 2010, 12:34