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Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance

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Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance [#permalink] New post 20 Feb 2010, 17:27
Hello Alex,
I have really enjoyed reading your posts and would appreciate your feedback on my candidacy.

I have been working in consumer lending and microfinance in Asia for the past 4.5 years. I would only consider to pursue an MBA - potentially with a dual MPP degree - if I could get into a top 10 school.

Nationality: American (Chinese ethnicity)

Age: 28 now, will be 29 if I matriculate in Fall 2011

Undergrad: Top 10 liberal arts with a degree in History and a particular interest in China. After junior year, I took a year off to do intensive Chinese language study at a top program in Beijing.

GPA: 3.47, mediocre and quite worried about how schools with view this. I started out college as a slacker, having even failed a course for simply not turning in any of the work, and this is reflected in my GPA, which was 3.12 after 2 years. But I made a strong rebound after I began developing a passion around History and China, and my GPA during the last 2 years was 3.79.

GRE: Verbal 730 (98% percentile), Math 800 (94% percentile).

Work experience:
Since graduating, my work experience has been entirely in Asia, in particular, China.
Travel agency in Beijing (1 year) – One of the leading sustainable, eco-friendly travel agencies in China. I worked in the marketing department during its early start-up phase and was able to travel widely around the country.
Consumer lending Division of a Multinational Financial Services Group (3.5 years) – Started out in Thailand for 2.5 years, beginning as a management trainee rotating through the various departments of a retail bank, after which I managed a year-long bank integration project. I then asked for a transfer to China, where I was an Assistant Manager working on business development and start up initiatives in the consumer lending and microfinance space, initiatives that were cut short by the financial crisis...
Microfinance & SME Lending Consulting Firm (10 months) – Currently a consultant with a firm that advises Chinese banks and microfinance companies. We are embedded in client institutions, helping to manage their microfinance operations on a day to day basis, accompanying loan officers on analysis of micro-businesses (factories, wholesalers, restaurants, petty traders, the whole gamut…), approving loans, training staff, and interfacing with management. Very interested in furthering my career in this development finance after MBA, in a role with even larger and global impact.

Extracurricular Activities – Very involved in Habitat for Humanity in college, also volunteered for Habitat internationally in rural Mexico and rural China after graduation.

Schools I am considering applying to: Harvard, MIT, Yale, NYU, Virginia, Dartmouth

Weaknesses Summary:
- Solid top 10 liberal arts school, but not the very best
- 3.47 GPA is mediocre
- My resume is somewhat non-traditional. Liberal arts - Travel agency - Consumer Lending - Microfinance. Although my career goals have nicely coalesced around Asia and development finance, I am wondering whether my resume will be perceived as not having enough "focus".
- Laid off during financial crisis because my division was closed down (my firm was one of the major newsmakers during the financial crisis, although my division was not at all involved in the losses). That being said, I also bounced back quickly with a position in microfinance, the field I was planning to move towards
- Do not plan to study and take the GMAT, as work is very busy
- 29 years old upon entering

I would appreciate your candid feedback you have on whether it would be realistic for me to apply to the top tier schools I listed, particularly in light of the weaknesses I mention. I would also appreciate any thoughts you have on strengths of my resume that I should emphasize in my applications. Thank you!
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Re: Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2010, 10:59
I think you have an interesting background that will translate well in the essays. You should be competitive for all the schools you listed except for HBS.

HBS tends to be more risk averse -- they get tons of standard issue Ivy types applying, and they fill a large chunk of the class with them (the Ivy undergrad to McKinsey/Bain/BCG group is very prevalent there).

If you're looking for a stretch or long-shot school, interestingly enough Stanford may be a better match for you - they do like odd ducks (and I do mean that in a good way!) like yourself a bit more than HBS would even though on the whole HBS seems to have a higher admission rate.

You may also want to look at Kellogg as well.
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Re: Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance [#permalink] New post 21 Feb 2010, 13:52
Dear Alex,

Many thanks for your valuable feedback. If I could trouble you to ask a quick follow-up question.

In your opinion , for my undergrad GPA situation (including my failing grade), do you believe it would be helpful to include a separate "explanation" in my admissions application explaining in more detail how I turned around the situation. Or is my undergrad years sufficiently in the past that they will focus more on post-undergrad accomplishments and GRE scores?

Thank you, again.
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Re: Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2010, 16:32
Your GPA isn't poor enough to warrant an explanation.
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Re: Profile Evaluation - International Experience / Microfinance   [#permalink] 25 Feb 2010, 16:32
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