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1) Brief background: Nationality: Chinese American Age: 29 at matriculating Bachelor of Science - GPA: 3.63 from a small private college. Master of Science - GPA: 3.80 from a second tier private university. GMAT: 680 - Q47, V35, AWA 5.
Total 5 years of work history in user experience design. 2 years with a tech start up company, key member of product launching. 3 years with a mid sized energy management firm, promoted once, to creative lead.
Community services: In college: president of international student club, school marching band lead, student senate board member, residence assistant. After college: alumni career mentor, involved with an architecture preservation group and an animal rights group. Helped push passing state law on restrictions on puppy mill breading.
2) Interests and goals Short term: Product manager in tech industry. I've always enjoyed designing and building products, particularly technology and software. I'd like to stay in the high tech industry but with a change in job function. From a hands-on role to more of a leadership position.
Long term: My own design/innovation consultancy Eventually I'd like to run my own consultancy and help companies improve the process of product development, as well as product research, viability, pricing, marketing. (IDEO kind of stuff).
I've always focused on the aspect of designing and improving product user experience, and I feel that lacking core business knowledge is preventing me from moving ahead.
3) Interested schools Georgetown, Emory, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, UConn
So, here goes my questions: 1. I think my GMAT score is not as good as those of my fellow Chinese applicants, is the above list reasonable? (I really studied very hard for a long time, 680 was actually the highest out of all practice tests.) 2. I don't have any brand name companies on my resume. Will that put me in a disadvantage against other applicants? 3. How do schools value applicants with focus on design thinking and innovation? 4. Are there other schools you would recommend looking into?
Again, thank you very much for your time and inputs.
Thank you for the thought, well organized questions. I'll answer them in order:
Don't worry about your GMAT score compared to those of other Chinese Americans. You should indeed worry if your GMAT score is low compared to a school's average score (not the case for the schools you're considering), but don't obsess over what scores other Chinese Americans get. I think you have a realistic set of schools here
Schools really do care more about what you've done than where you've worked. All things being equal, it's nice to have a "brand name" company on your resume because admissions officers will readily recognize it, understand what the company does, etc. But they're most interested in what you've achieved and what experiences you've gained.
As long as your design focus isn't inconsistent with what the school's focus is, I have to think that this ability to look at things in new ways and "think outside of the box" can only help you.
Given your "stats," it's going to definitely be a reach, but Stanford GSB's "d.school" joint program would be very intriguing for you. Maybe it's your ultimate reach school, among a list of safer choices.