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I'm 32, have two Masters Degrees in Computer Science (one was because I quit a Ph.D. program early), and about a 3.4-3.5 undergraduate GPA with a major in Mathematics from a top 15 university (depending on how you calculate it). I have about 6 years experience as a software developer and a year as an adjunct professor. I also have a 770 GMAT (I don't remember the exact breakdown but I scored more highly on the verbal). I currently make six figures as a software engineer, but *hate* it, and don't look forward to working my way up the technical management food chain (in my estimation, if I did that, I would have a job that I liked ... on the day that Charlie Sheen is confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court).
I applied to programs last year, but didn't get in anywhere that I wanted to go (semi-regretting that decision). On the other hand, I have been *promoted* to Product Manager (actually, it's more just added responsibility rather than a strict promotion) that gives me some more things that I can talk about in applying this year.
I realize that I am a fairly unique candidate--some would say too old, but I want to go get an MBA from a good school anyway.
Currently, my plan post MBA is to work for a consultancy doing projects at the intersection of business with technology (often referred to as strategic alignment). I have a contact in a small consultancy that does such work and am fairly sure that I could be that with an MBA they would hire me, although I may prefer to shoot for a larger firm first.
I currently work on the West coast but would really rather move to the East coast if possible.
Any help in evaluating my application would be welcome.
With reapplicants, it’s mostly about what’s new/different from your last application. Your promotion is a good step. Can you point to any accomplishments that led to that step? Since last applying, can you call out specific instances where you have led, driven results, or taken initiative? Has your new role brought new opportunities to manage? Can you speak to new insights or different perspectives that has brought?
Moreover, have you taken on any leadership outside of work since last year?
I’d love to see more detailed post-MBA goals for you. I completely understand about hating your job, but you should make a convincing case to admissions committee that your desire to obtain an MBA is driven by your passion or vision for the future. You should have a short-term goal that leads to a longer-term one.
Your competitiveness will rely on the aforementioned factors. I’m happy to comment more with additional information.
First, let me mention the schools that I applied to last year:
Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, Sloan, Booth, Stern, Tepper, Olin (Wustl), and Boston U.
Of those, I got into, Olin, Tepper, and BU, and an interview at Stern, and outright rejected at the others.
I was probably overly ambitious in my applications, but my GMAT score is great, and my grades are on par.
I'm also a kick ass software engineer, and I have some pretty good accomplishments there.
I feel that one problem with my applications is that in such a technical field, it was pretty hard to write about some of my accomplishments. Even though the accomplishments demonstrated leadership, courage, and not just technical no-how, it was less than trivial to set the scene.
It is also the case that it is harder for software engineer to "advance." A software engineer who knows the code well, is good at design, works hard, and makes smart decisions is incredibly valuable to a company. Companies usually want to keep them doing that. Companies pay them well, treat them well, and try to make them as comfortable as possible, so that they can keep working. A software developer can show leadership by ensuring that his code is testable, well tested, all the right design principals are followed, and helping less talented/more junior developers do the same. Not exactly the stuff of MBA admissions essays is it?
I think you make a good point about the post MBA goals. I will try to make mine a little more detailed: I would like to work as a consultant (probably for a large firm, but maybe a small one) doing analysis of technical/business decisions, buy vs. build analysis, ROI on technical investments, analysis of the effect of outsourcing on time to market, total cost, etc. I did a bit of that work in a previous job, but that company had its own issues (i.e. I don't think it exists anymore, for one thing). I feel that I would be well qualified for that since I have quite a bit of experience in the trenches and an understanding of how those decisions are made.
I have to say that no, I have not taken much leadership outside of work since last year. I have three titles at work where I had one before--that has pretty much taken up all of my time.
I agree that it can be tough coming from such a technical field. My advice is to think of the accomplishments you want to write about in universal business terms, so that even people outside of your field can appreciate your leadership. For instance, developing junior staff resonates regardless of your industry.
As I wrote before, the critical portion of your reapplication will be what the delta/difference is from last year. Emphasize how you’ve developed/evolved as a leader and discuss what you offer now that you did not when you last applied.
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