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Work Experience: 3 yrs as only Financial Analyst at west coast luxury transportation service provider (motorcoaches for MLB, NFL, NCAA, tour providers, private charters, etc.). There has been heavy employee turn-around at this company for the last three years, but I have primarily supported the CFO. Responsibilities range from implementation of new accounting software and infrastructure; financial reporting (cash flows, P&Ls, balance sheets, various revenue metrics, etc.); tax filing/analysis; cost analysis; significant fixed asset accounting and analysis; and more granular tasks. I also have experience with various other non-financial tasks (IT, travel management,...)--I have worn many hats.
Of note, the company went through a bankruptcy recently (due to the unscrupulous financial practices and securities managing of the owner) where I was point-person for the bankruptcy estate in matters regarding fixed assets and fixed asset financing. The company was subsequently purchased, and I retained my title with more responsibilities at the new company.
Other Experience: I interned at the office of our state's governor for four months in college, during which time I also worked at a Habitat for Humanity construction site for two weeks. During the other downtime between undergrad semesters I worked full time at a bereavement support provider, where we assembled many different lines of products intended for mothers who had lost newborns or young babies.
I also spent four months abroad in Sydney, Australia (Macquarie University) studying political science and international business.
I want to pursue an MBA because I want to improve my knowledge of finances and economics in a more direct way than passively attaining it through job experience, alone. I want to be (and especially, feel) competitive in the job market and have something appreciable/tangible to bring to a firm's table.
With an MBA, I would like to be involved in perhaps the capital markets, or in some industry where my economic and financial analysis can contribute to the wealth of others (be they individuals, institutions, or governments) and help stimulate both domestic and international innovation.
I would like to attend a top 20 school (who doesn't, obviously), but I'm worried about my lack of extracurricular (community) experience, general quantitative exprience, poor gpa (which does show continuous improvement from year 1 thru 4), and sub-700 GMAT. I was planning on applying to schools this fall R1, but I've recently considered postponing for a year to increase extracurriculars. I would say that my dream schools are NYU and Boston University, but I picture myself ending up in the NY or SF area eventually. So what do you think--could I eventually be a potential candidate for these schools? If not, which range of schools? Am I generally too inexperienced for MBA right now? (I have been reading the underdog-success threads and high-score-ding threads and everything in between, so I've done some research already)
Schools I'm considering, in no particular order: Boston University NYU Stern Duke Fuqua UNC: Kenan Flagler Georgetown Emory
Thanks again for reading! Any advice is much appreciated.
Don't postpone a year simply for more extracurriculars.
I think a lot of applicants overvalue the importance of extracurriculars. They are simply the dessert, and not the main course.
Adcoms are ultimately evaluating who you are as a career professional - your aptitude, growth, skills, perspectives and maturity. There are folks who get in with few extracurriculars, and others who don't get in and have an active life outside of work. In short, adcoms in a way are evaluating your employability post-MBA, which means whether you've volunteered for the soup kitchen or not isn't really what matters. Again, it doesn't mean extracurriculars are irrelevant if you have them - but they're not really what will make or break your candidacy. Most of the time, the real value within the b-school admissions process of extracurriculars is to reveal certain skills/experiences (i.e. leadership potential) that may not be as prevalent in your "day job", or to enhance whatever leadership potential/team skills you have in your day job. But again, extracurriculars aren't absolutely essential, otherwise there would be no investment bankers or management consultants in b-school.
In any case, your biggest handicap will be your GPA/GMAT combo for schools within the top 16. Schools like BU, Georgetown, Emory and UNC you should have a pretty reasonable shot of getting in with what you have now. For schools like Duke and NYU, there's still an outside chance you could get in with what you have now, but you will certainly do yourself a big favor by finding a way to boost that GMAT beyond the 700 threshold.
Thanks for the advice, it's made me feel a lot better about my qualifications.
I'm just curious, which list of school rankings do you consider most reliable? I've been sort of going back and forth between a few of the major ones. I want to make sure we're on the same page when we refer to top 16 and top 20 schools.
The rankings just measure different things along different criteria. It's been debated since the dawn of time (or so it seems) which ones are best.
I wrote this a while ago in my blog about what I think are the top programs (and if you look at the rankings publications over many years collectively, it tends to cancel out the white noise of movements from one year to the next), but here's a reprint of it:
Top Three: HBS, Stanford, Wharton (some say Wharton is just a rung below HBS and Stanford but above Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, Columbia or Tuck, which I won’t dispute – opinions vary).
Elite Eight: Top 3 plus Kellogg, MIT, Chicago, Columbia and Tuck. Some say Tuck is just a rung below; again opinions vary.
Sweet Sixteen: Elite 8, plus Michigan, Duke, Darden, NYU, Berkeley, UCLA, Cornell, Yale (some will say that Cornell and Yale are just a rung below, but again opinions vary).
Rest of the Best: These are the top regional schools including (in no particular order) UT-Austin, Georgetown, USC, UNC, Emory, Babson, Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Maryland, Carnegie Mellon.
Big Two International: It’s basically INSEAD and London Business School (LBS), and then everyone else. The caliber of the student body and reputation of both these schools are comparable to the US Elite Eight.
There is no material difference in reputation between schools within the same tier. In other words, don't ask whether Columbia has a better reputation than Chicago or Kellogg, because other than the alums and students, no one cares!
Great, thanks. In the research I've done I felt like Boston University would've ranked higher, at least as a top regional school. The multitude of rankings out there really are deceiving. The list I was most closely referencing placed it 16th, while Princeton Review ranked it as a fairly competitive school with a high average GMAT acceptance threshold.
It's my understanding that the main difference between the top 16 and the regional schools is that more nationally- or internationally-known companies will recruit at the former, while more local firms will recruit at the latter. Is that true?
My thought is that if I go to school in a place that I don't want to stay for more than the time it takes me to graduate, then I need to go to a top 16. So I would have no problem attending a regional school if it was located (ideally) in the NYC or SF area. Does this seem logical?