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-Fall 2009 candidate -Male, Caucasian, 25 at time of application -3.5 GPA in architecture from University of Michigan -730 GMAT (taken last August), 44 V (97%) 47 Q (81%) 6.0 AWA
Work Experience: 3.5 years (at time of application) as project designer at small Manhattan architecture firm (I'll go into more detail below).
Volunteer Experience: Ongoing working relationship (6+ months) with Manhattan nonprofit firm promoting urban agriculture and sustainable urban development. My role is to provide design expertise for architecture that would support agriculture or other environmentally responsible practices, then provide artwork to be used by the firm in its marketing materials. I currently devote about 10 hrs/week to this pursuit.
Extracurriculars: In college I worked a number of jobs, including a facilities job at the UM Law School (was promoted to student manager after about a year) and refereeing intramural sports. Not much resume-worthy since college, however.
Goals: I am looking to divert my career path from architecture to real estate development. I am particularly interested in driving development that is environmentally and socially responsible, and hope to own my own real estate firm in the future.
Schools: Northwestern (extreme reach!), Berkeley (reach), UT-Austin, UNC, Arizona State, maybe one or two others that aren't too farfetched.
Right, about the work and leadership experience: I know that my lack of leadership experience will be my greatest weakness in the application review process. I have been the point man on a number of projects and my recommenders will attest to my work, but I haven't held a formal position of leadership. I recently spoke to my bosses about increasing my role as a leader and they were very accommodating. Also, I'm planning to take on more volunteer work in the very near future. Based on what I've read, though, I'm skeptical that my leadership profile will stand out significantly from other applicants at the top programs on my list. I'm primarily marketing myself as an individual with strong academics, an unconventional professional background and focused career goals.
My question is, where does my profile currently put me for the schools on my list? And how can I best present my background and goals to set me apart?
You have five plus months to address the only real weakness in your profile and that's the leadership question. It sounds like you are doing what you can do about this at work, but outside of work you need to be selective and find a leadership role you can sink your teeth into. It's not a question of outdoing other applicants in community leadership; it's a question of rectifying your own relative weakness in that area. That you can do in the time you have left. You are right about your profile's strengths. You should have no trouble at UT-Austin, UNC, Arizona State. Haas is a reach but not an impossible one. Kellogg will be tough unless you ramp up the extracurricular leadership. You might also want to take a shot at NYU and Cornell, schools with real estate programs that you have a shot at.