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Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background).

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Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background). [#permalink] New post 03 Jun 2013, 14:42
Hi! I really need an advice on what I should do, and what I should expect with these stats (below). Like what schools do I have a shot at, how could I improve my chances et cetera. My ultimate goal is management consulting or strategy, preferably tech corporations. Should I consider some sort of MBA/M.Eng dual degree, like Kellogg's MMM (MBA+M.Eng.Management), or MIT's MBA/MSc.Eng. Or would a regular MBA be better for me?

I do realize I can hardly hope to get admitted to the H/S/W, but should I try anyway, just in case I get wildly lucky? Or would it compromise my future chances of applying there some other time (maybe with a couple more years of experience or something)? Same with the others, if I don't have a shot at top-10 this year, should I apply anyway or wait another year and then apply?

24 y/o (25 in September, thus 26 in the Autumn '14) male, Russian (Moscow), 100% fluent in English though.

760 GMAT (50Q, 42V).

Yet to take the TOEFL, but I'm pretty confident about it.

Education:
* 2009 - 2014 (graduating July '14): A 5-year diploma degree from the Moscow Aviation Institute, no-name worldwide but rather well known in Russia. A double major-like degree in Computer Science and Economics. Top-1 student of my class, honors analogous to magna cum laude (there aren't going to be any summa cum laudes in my year). Approx. 4.85/5 GPA, that's like ~3.9/4.
* 2005 - 2008: studied, but did not graduate, at the Moscow State University, department of Mechanics and Mathematics. GPA not worth mentioning (worth not mentioning actually lol). Was just a young (matriculated at 16) romantic idiot with interests other than study (like sports, adventures etc). Thus I've quit the school and volunteered for the army service.

Work Experience:
* April 2013-August 2014 (as per contract): Strategic Marketing Intern (full-time) at General Electric, kind of a huge deal for Russia. I might be able to convince my HR manager to change the title to a "junior analyst" or something like that after this Summer, it's not a standard practice to have people without a completed degree other than as interns though. Anyway, I'm going to have an almost 1.5 years of full-time experience by the Autumn '14. What I do here is very diverse, ranging from market analytics to B2B relationships to working with financial reports (clients & competitors), tons of experience.
* 2009 - April 2013: freelance and/or part-time as a software developer/architect/designer etc. Nothing really serious to show for it, mostly low-profile database projects and a couple of browser-based MMOGs. Just enough to pay the bills (added with the scholarship).
* 2008 - 2009: a year of army service. Elite paratrooper unit similar to the USMC, completed the service as a "senior combat engineer (sapper)". Received an excellent-grade army recommendation letter, including "leadership and command skills" etc.

International Experience:
* May-September 2012: Work&Travel USA. Explored almost the entirety of the US North-East and South-West, worked as a lifeguard.
* June-July 2011: Travelled across the Central Asia, visited ancient cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand.
* August-September 2010: South Africa, tourism and English practice.
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Re: Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background). [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2013, 10:36
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Hi there,

You've got an interesting profile - it was a refreshing change to read! Also, you've got a killer GMAT so kudos on that!

Let's answer your biggest question first - should you wait. Yes. You're not that old and another year would really take your profile to the next level. At the moment, even though you have some interesting experiences, you are a little light on CONCRETE work experience. Not to mention, you don't have your degree yet.

I'll add some detail below by section and I hope this helps. If you have any questions, comments, disagreements, just let me know!

Academics: Your experience at the Aviation Institute is stellar and you have a GPA to show for it. It might not have world wide name recognition but don't underestimate it - I've heard of it and know it to be an on par institution. One thing you did not mention was your extracurricular involvement. Were you in any clubs or organizations? Did you have any leadership experiences? Also, if you don't graduate until 2014 then your GPA isn't confirmed and it needs to be set.

Profile: As a Russian, ex-military male fluent in English, your chances remain strong. You add diversity to a class and MBA adcoms do value service (even if it's not with the US armed forces!).

Work Experience: Your job with GE is a great starting point but two things. One, what did you actually do for them? What does a strategic marketing intern do? Market analytics and B2B relationships is vague. Essentially, what do YOU do. Do you execute tasks or own initiatives? If you can get them to change your title, that can't hurt. I think it would more closely align with your actual role versus intern and it would be unfortunate if someone gets caught up with nomenclature. However, only one year in a professional setting really isn't enough. Two years is pushing it too but you have a variety of other experience to pull from that could be used to augment it. While your freelancing may not impress you, I feel it has some nuggets in there that can definitely be pulled out and used effectively. Finally, your year in the service is always a source of material and can definitely be leveraged.

Extracurriculars: This is one thing you haven't mentioned too much about. Either through your university or within the community. If you look to apply next year, this is a part of your profile you definitely need to address. I don't know your hobbies and passions but you should find impactful activities where you can hold leadership positions. It will help round out your application while giving MBA programs peace of mind that you will also be involved on campus (that's a big part of it).

At the moment, it's hard to recommend schools because I simply don't know the ins and outs of your application that really make that conversation worth having. However, I will agree with you that someone in your position should at least try one or two at the H/S/W level. You really never know and it could turn out really well for you! As for your chances, I feel they're on the light side right now given your work experience and lack of degree. In another year, those chances should firm up nicely if you continue along your established trajectory. I would not apply this year just for the sake of applying. One, it can reduce your chances down the road (somewhat and this varies by candidate), and two, it's a lot of time to put forward a great application. You should apply when everything about your profile is ready and in my honest opinion that isn't just yet.

So I would suggest you continue what you're doing (it seems to be a good path) and shore up things like extracurricular activities. Really round out your story.

I hope this helps and if you have any questions - please don't hesitate to reach out!

Bhavik
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Re: Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background). [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2013, 10:50
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Qayin,
You have a distinctive and promising profile. Given your goals, an MBA is probably the way to go. Given your GMAT score and relatively unusual profile, you could probably get into top MC-feeder programs like Michigan Ross, Duke, Darden right now. Although there is no significant penalty in being a reapplicant should you decide to aim higher and apply now, you probably don't have a good chance at places like Tuck, Kellogg or INSEAD now. You would undoubtedly be an even stronger applicant if you waited a year (you would still be in the prime age range), so unless you have an urgent need to apply this year I would probably advise waiting if you have your sights set on the top schools.

--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School, www.paulsbodine.com/testimonials

Qayin wrote:
Hi! I really need an advice on what I should do, and what I should expect with these stats (below). Like what schools do I have a shot at, how could I improve my chances et cetera. My ultimate goal is management consulting or strategy, preferably tech corporations. Should I consider some sort of MBA/M.Eng dual degree, like Kellogg's MMM (MBA+M.Eng.Management), or MIT's MBA/MSc.Eng. Or would a regular MBA be better for me?

I do realize I can hardly hope to get admitted to the H/S/W, but should I try anyway, just in case I get wildly lucky? Or would it compromise my future chances of applying there some other time (maybe with a couple more years of experience or something)? Same with the others, if I don't have a shot at top-10 this year, should I apply anyway or wait another year and then apply?

24 y/o (25 in September, thus 26 in the Autumn '14) male, Russian (Moscow), 100% fluent in English though.

760 GMAT (50Q, 42V).

Yet to take the TOEFL, but I'm pretty confident about it.

Education:
* 2009 - 2014 (graduating July '14): A 5-year diploma degree from the Moscow Aviation Institute, no-name worldwide but rather well known in Russia. A double major-like degree in Computer Science and Economics. Top-1 student of my class, honors analogous to magna cum laude (there aren't going to be any summa cum laudes in my year). Approx. 4.85/5 GPA, that's like ~3.9/4.
* 2005 - 2008: studied, but did not graduate, at the Moscow State University, department of Mechanics and Mathematics. GPA not worth mentioning (worth not mentioning actually lol). Was just a young (matriculated at 16) romantic idiot with interests other than study (like sports, adventures etc). Thus I've quit the school and volunteered for the army service.

Work Experience:
* April 2013-August 2014 (as per contract): Strategic Marketing Intern (full-time) at General Electric, kind of a huge deal for Russia. I might be able to convince my HR manager to change the title to a "junior analyst" or something like that after this Summer, it's not a standard practice to have people without a completed degree other than as interns though. Anyway, I'm going to have an almost 1.5 years of full-time experience by the Autumn '14. What I do here is very diverse, ranging from market analytics to B2B relationships to working with financial reports (clients & competitors), tons of experience.
* 2009 - April 2013: freelance and/or part-time as a software developer/architect/designer etc. Nothing really serious to show for it, mostly low-profile database projects and a couple of browser-based MMOGs. Just enough to pay the bills (added with the scholarship).
* 2008 - 2009: a year of army service. Elite paratrooper unit similar to the USMC, completed the service as a "senior combat engineer (sapper)". Received an excellent-grade army recommendation letter, including "leadership and command skills" etc.

International Experience:
* May-September 2012: Work&Travel USA. Explored almost the entirety of the US North-East and South-West, worked as a lifeguard.
* June-July 2011: Travelled across the Central Asia, visited ancient cities such as Bukhara and Samarkand.
* August-September 2010: South Africa, tourism and English practice.

_________________

Paul Bodine /
Author, Great Applications for Business School and Perfect Phrases for Business School Acceptance

Follow Paul Bodine on Twitter

Intern
Intern
avatar
Joined: 03 Jun 2013
Posts: 11
Followers: 0

Kudos [?]: 0 [0], given: 4

Re: Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background). [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2013, 12:28
CriticalSquareMBA wrote:
At the moment, it's hard to recommend schools because I simply don't know the ins and outs of your application that really make that conversation worth having. However, I will agree with you that someone in your position should at least try one or two at the H/S/W level. You really never know and it could turn out really well for you! As for your chances, I feel they're on the light side right now given your work experience and lack of degree. In another year, those chances should firm up nicely if you continue along your established trajectory. I would not apply this year just for the sake of applying. One, it can reduce your chances down the road (somewhat and this varies by candidate), and two, it's a lot of time to put forward a great application. You should apply when everything about your profile is ready and in my honest opinion that isn't just yet.

Bhavik


pbodine wrote:
Qayin,
You have a distinctive and promising profile. Given your goals, an MBA is probably the way to go. Given your GMAT score and relatively unusual profile, you could probably get into top MC-feeder programs like Michigan Ross, Duke, Darden right now. Although there is no significant penalty in being a reapplicant should you decide to aim higher and apply now, you probably don't have a good chance at places like Tuck, Kellogg or INSEAD now. You would undoubtedly be an even stronger applicant if you waited a year (you would still be in the prime age range), so unless you have an urgent need to apply this year I would probably advise waiting if you have your sights set on the top schools.

--Paul Bodine, Great Applications for Business School



Thanks a lot for the input guys! I really appreciate it!

So to sum it all up - I'm obviously going to have a better shot in a year or two from now.

However, I really don't mind putting effort in sending out some applications this year, it would be a worthwhile experience organizing it all if nothing else. The question is, which schools should I try applying to without hurting my chances with them in case I don't get in this time? Meaning basically which of them are reapplicant-friendly. For example I've heard that Harvard/MIT/INSEAD are not, while Wharton is (afaik the Wharton admission rate in the reapplicant group is even higher than in general). What about other schools, like Kellogg, Booth, Tuck, Darden, Duke, LBS, IESE, Berkeley?

By the way, I've also read that Wharton is comparatively unexperienced-friendly, and that they assign an above average weight to the GMAT and GPA. Would this all make applying to Wharton a good idea for me?


CriticalSquareMBA wrote:
One thing you did not mention was your extracurricular involvement. Were you in any clubs or organizations? Did you have any leadership experiences?

Extracurriculars: This is one thing you haven't mentioned too much about. Either through your university or within the community. If you look to apply next year, this is a part of your profile you definitely need to address. I don't know your hobbies and passions but you should find impactful activities where you can hold leadership positions. It will help round out your application while giving MBA programs peace of mind that you will also be involved on campus (that's a big part of it).


With all the school and freelancing I didn't really have much time to spare. I'm an amateur athlete (running, biking, weightlifting, crossfit etc), even was my University's powerlifting champion in my sophomore year. No club participation or volunteering per se, it's somewhat less popular in Russia than in the West. Though there are definitely some opportunities here that I could pursue to fill the gap, that's really a great advice! Thanks! Any good ideas for a meaningful extracurricular that I could reasonably manage while working full time and studying?

My main hobby(-ies) is anthropology, history and sociology (verging on political science), I've even considered pursuing that for a major. Hence my penchant for travelling (US, Africa, Central Asia, Siberia). I'm seriously thinking of writing a book somewhere down the road.

CriticalSquareMBA wrote:
Also, if you don't graduate until 2014 then your GPA isn't confirmed and it needs to be set.

There's just one semester of actual study left, the last one is going to be spent on a thesis. Should I include a transcript for the first 4 years with an application, or just self-report an expected GPA?

CriticalSquareMBA wrote:
Work Experience: Your job with GE is a great starting point but two things. One, what did you actually do for them? What does a strategic marketing intern do? Market analytics and B2B relationships is vague. Essentially, what do YOU do. Do you execute tasks or own initiatives?

There's a lot of breadth in the job, some examples would be
[*] Working in a team on a large analytics project, doing a full cycle for my assigned area - from gathering the data, to structuring & analysing it, to doing presentations and pitchbooks. Or, focusing on a functional area instead.
[*] Being responsible for one of the industries GE operates in, doing continuous analytics, looking for important trends etc, identifying strategic opportunities/threats and pitching them in regular reports.
[*] On a more commercial side I assist GE's overseas businesses in connecting and dealing with local (Russia/CIS) clients, participate in client meetings, sometimes act as a point of contact in general (both for the local clients and the businesses in need of support).

CriticalSquareMBA wrote:
If you can get them to change your title, that can't hurt. I think it would more closely align with your actual role versus intern and it would be unfortunate if someone gets caught up with nomenclature.

Yep, the intern title is definitely not doing me a favor. I hope to explain this issue in one of the essays potentially. It's not the "the guy who operated the copy machine for three months" kind of internship that people often think of.
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Re: Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background). [#permalink] New post 04 Jun 2013, 17:07
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Hey there,

You're quite welcome - we're happy to help!

I'm going to structure my response in the same order you've posted your questions. Let me know your thoughts!

1) From a "practice" perspective, I would recommend against it with some level of conviction. Simply because any practice you get can easily be offset by a consultant if you choose to apply in later years and there are some significant risks. You'll have to find recommenders, manage the process, and "use up" your current experiences. It takes a lot for recommenders to complete thorough recommendations and prepping them is no easy task either. It is possible you could use up their goodwill this round and leave yourself in a less than ideal situation next year. Even if you don't tell them why you're applying this year (e.g. for practice) it is still likely to annoy them. By using up your current experiences I mean when you reapply, you have to talk much more about what you've done SINCE you applied. At that point, you can't rephrase your story. You can't revisit and talk about experiences in another light. Effectively, you're limiting your next year's applications to what you do between this round and the next. If you apply R1 or R2 of this year and R1 or R2 of next year, that's only 6-9 months.

Yes, Wharton does like their reapplicants, as do Booth, Darden, Duke, etc. (not all, for example, Tuck isn't a huge fan). However, you can't really bank on this. Keep in mind, they look positively at reapplicants who were already a stone's throw the previous year(s). Therefore, while statistics say one thing, your experience may, and probably will, be different.

In a nutshell, reapplication should be viewed as a last resort for those who didn't get in a previous year, not as an opportunity for practice, does that make sense?

2) I love CrossFit! Personally, one of my favorite workouts is "Cindy" - after the first 15 minutes you really start feeling it, eh? Half an hour and simple but brutal. Let me ask you this - what do you WANT to get involved in. When it comes to extracurriculars, there isn't a "right" answer. For example, a lot of people lately have been doing activities that are socially beneficial. But if there is nothing in your story to support it then doing it in the year before applying will seem like a blatant play. It'll be seen right through. So my suggestion would be find something you could get involved in that's athletic or anthropology/history/sociology related. If you wanted to start your book now, that may be fun and unique too! It really comes down to a) what makes sense b) what are you passionate about and c) how can we play it into your story!

(By the way - if you don't have time because you're freelancing, that's a solid reason and wouldn't impact your candidacy - a lot of people have to work to make ends meet or pay for school, etc. It's definitely fine.)

3) If you look at my point 1, the natural answer here from me is "neither" because I think you should apply when you're ready. However, if you do choose to apply this year, we'd have to get in touch with each admissions office to see what they'd prefer. Some have policies, some have preferences. This really isn't a huge deal because your GPA is great!

4) Your work experiences are on the right track and definitely speak to ambiguity, quantitative rigor, working with other cultures, etc. What would help your story is to get some definitely leadership experiences under your belt. Be it an initiative, workstream, or team. There are a lot of ways to show leadership and ability to manage and you could take the ones you have to spin them that way but it'd be a stretch. Getting some concrete examples makes your candidacy interesting to an adcom. Not to mention, this is one of the key things they're looking for!

5) If you can't get it changed, we can explain it in the optional essay. There's a slight culture component here that can be explained.

I hope this helps - so what do you think?

Bhavik
_________________

Bhavik
Managing Partner

Critical Square | MBA Admissions Services

Web | Blog | Free Resources | Facebook | Twitter

Sign up for a free consultation today!

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Re: Profile review/Advice needed (760, non-standard background).   [#permalink] 04 Jun 2013, 17:07
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