1) Brief description of your full-time work experience.
I have been working for one of the Big Four accounting firms since I graduate college four years ago. I started off in audit where I specialized in audits of mutual funds and hedge funds. I received one promotion to senior associate after two years as a staff associate; however this is the standard promotion. As a senior associate in audit you get a decent amount of leadership experience as you are responsible for managing the audit, delegating the work, supervising the staff, and ultimately making sure things are completed on time.
After about three years in audit I applied to transfer to the Transaction Advisory Services practice and was accepted. In this practice we perform M&A due diligence services mostly representing buyers looking to acquire another company. Getting into the group is competitive and the work is better experience for a b-school, so I think this could help me.
2) Your GMAT: 730
3) College info: graduated May 2007 from a state-school in Wisconsin (how concerning is it that I didn’t go to top undergraduate school?). I doubled majored in accounting and finance. GPA 3.73.
4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
During college I was vice president of Beta Alpha Psi, the accounting-business group. I was President of a small investment group. I was also an analyst in the very time intensive Student Investment Management Program where we managed a balanced-portfolio worth $250k. I also did quite a bit of free tutoring and volunteer service such as giving tax-return advice and preparation services for those who could not afford to pay someone and also working at the humane society.
Since college I have not been very involved in extracurriculars. Between working long hours and studying for the four CPA exams and three CFA exams I haven’t had a lot of free-time to commit else-where. This area is my biggest concern in applying.
5) Important certifications:
I am a CPA and a CFA charterholder.
6) Your target programs.
Harvard, Stanford, Booth, Wharton
7) Your post-MBA goal.
The main reason I want to get an MBA is to try and get into the front office of a PE firm. With my background, I know it may still be a long-shot but I’m willing to do whatever it takes and I’m hoping that a top MBA might give me a shot (any comments on this topic are very much appreciate!). If I can’t get into a PE firm, I’d still enjoy working for a top consulting firm. In the long-run, I would like to have the MBA as a qualifier for an executive level position at a large company.
I see a couple of challenges you'll need to overcome: 1) the accounting background is not seen as dynamic enough. To overcome that, focus any professional essays on the transaction advisory and risk taking you guide your clients into. 2) The extracurricular activities you've been involved in do not demonstrate exceptional people leadership to me yet. If it exists, highlight it. If it doesn't, I do believe you need to fit more of that into your life (and essays). While auditing puts you in charge of people, those are people that have to follow you since you are their designated team leader. The type of leadership that the top b-schools that you are targeting seek requires leading people that disagree with you and do not answer to you.
The good news is that you have a good GMAT and GPA. If you focus your essays on demonstrating the interpersonal skills to lead an organization, then the schools will have no reason to doubt your abilities to succeed in their programs. I encourage you to widen the range of schools you apply to: many programs are feeders to consulting careers (VC is a longer shot from any program).
Jennifer Bloom, CPRW
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