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Profile review for engineer changing career and industry

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Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2009, 13:35
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Hey everyone. I'm a relatively new member applying to bschool next fall for 2010. I'm still early in the process and I really like all the info I've found here so far. I think I'm gonna be around this forum a good bit so consider this my introduction as well.

Basics:
Asian male, US citizen, Will be 27 when I enroll

Education:
-Graduated from top large state school in 2005 with an Electrical Engineering degree
-3.15 undergrad GPA, did have two D's during school but finished strong and did well in math and business elective classes.

Extracurricular:
-not too much during school, was involved as a volunteer for a few friends student governement campaigns, did mentoring and math/science tutoring to middle school students for 2 years, played a lot of IM sports and captained several teams
-After graduation I've played a lot of rec league sports and been coach/captain, recently got involved with the Boys and Girls club as a mentor and hopefully eventually as a youth basketball coach, member of Tzu Chi foundation

GMAT:
740 (97%), Q47 (79%), V44 (97%)

WE:
-Will have 5 years at time of enrollment.
-Work in engineering services
-I work in a niche industry called test and measurement, requires solid technical skills and projects vary across several industries (defense, semiconductor, medical, CPG are a few I've done projects in)
-I do a lot of software and hardware integration
-Projects are often on small teams so I've had some project management experience but no experience managing people. There is a lot of direct responsibility for the project when you are the only person on the project or one of 3 people
-I have a decent amount of experience in direct customer contact as we have to work VERY closely with our customers to ensure we meet their needs. I'm not a typical reserved engineer.
-I hold a few software certifications within my industry that only a hundred or so people have.
-I am going to become a CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) through PMI (Project Management Institute). Don't know if this is well regarded at all but my company places high importance on being certified project managers and going through that training. We try to adhere to a lot of project management principles and processes.

Post MBA goal:
My goal is to do something completely different. What I do right now is not very fulfilling to me and is definitely not where my true interest and passions lie. You're supposed to do what you love right? I want to do strategy and brand management in entertainment, media, and technology. In particular, I'm most interested in the realm where digital media and the sports industry meet. Sports is the dominating interest in my life (besides my fiance =)) and I would love to do something in that industry. I really think that the potential of digital mediums in the sports industry has only scratched the surface. As we enter the web 2.0 era and the target demographics become more and more tech savvy, digital media will serve as a driving force for the proliferation and globalization of both sports related businesses and sports leagues. The end goal (not right out of school) would be to start my own consulting and services firm that specializes in the aforementioned sector.

My Target Schools:
Anderson: good for entertainment and media, strong in globalization with its location on the Pacific rim, Elite cluster
USC: ditto as above except for Elite cluster, Marshall Sports Business Institute
Haas: Bay Area location, small close knit school, tied to digital media boom being in the Bay Area
Kellogg: excellent marketing school, brand name
NYU: good entertainment/media program, league offices are all in New York if I want to go that direction post grad

On top of all this, I have an interesting situation which forces me to apply to all these schools in Round 1. Without getting too detailed, my fiance will be applying for residency programs at the same time. The residency match system matches every candidate to one, and only one program based on the candidates own rankings of programs she interviewed at and the program's rankings of all the candidates they interviewed. If I apply in Round 1 I will find out my fate before she has to submit her rankings for residency programs. For example, if I get into Kellogg, she will rank any and all Chicago programs she interviewed at at the top of her list. Notice that all my programs are in large metropolitan areas, which means more residency programs. If I apply in Round 2 I don't find out until after she has to submit her rankings which is in late February.

So, having said all that my questions are...
-Can I get into the programs I've targeted? I know I've set the bar fairly high
-Are my goals clearly defined? I think I've got somewhat of an interesting and specific career choice and it aligns well with my personal interests but not with my current occupation. The key will be for me to articulate well what my goals are.
-Are there any issues that I'm ignoring with my unique situation that I detailed in my paragraph above? Is this situation worth mentioning to schools as somehow a way to show that I am committed and truly interested in their program?
-Should I be worried that I haven't hit that magical 80/80 split for Q and V?
-I'm visiting all three Cali schools in late Feb and plan to visit the other two at some point. What else can I do to improve my chances at each school?
-Overall thoughts on my profile? Weaknesses? I see my weaknesses as potentially low undergrad GPA, don't have strong extracurricular, limited management exp. and don't work for a well known company (we are known within our field), and I might raise some eyebrows with my radical career switch.

Thanks and love this forum!
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 07 Feb 2009, 18:52
Bueller? Anyone got any advice?
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2009, 07:38
I think that you have a good grasp of what your wanting to do long term, but I didn't read on how your going to transition over from where you currently are to the future industry or how an MBA will help.

I think it will all come down to how you write your essays. If I were you, I would apply to those schools. Not worth it to apply to schools you do not like, and pay $150k just because you want an MBA degree.
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2009, 18:33
89nk wrote:
I think that you have a good grasp of what your wanting to do long term, but I didn't read on how your going to transition over from where you currently are to the future industry or how an MBA will help.

I think it will all come down to how you write your essays. If I were you, I would apply to those schools. Not worth it to apply to schools you do not like, and pay $150k just because you want an MBA degree.

Well theres not much transition I can do since my current job and industry has nothing to do with what I want to do. Thats why I'm pursuing the MBA to gain the necessary background. Is that a sufficient reason to give to adcoms?
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 08 Feb 2009, 21:13
albyman32 wrote:
Well theres not much transition I can do since my current job and industry has nothing to do with what I want to do. Thats why I'm pursuing the MBA to gain the necessary background. Is that a sufficient reason to give to adcoms?


What I meant is that, in your essays, if you show why your wanting to transition by using concrete examples from your experience, you will have a better chance of admission. It doesn't have to be work related, but your essays should express what triggered you to want to make the transition, and how your going to go about transitioning and how the MBA "fits" into the big picture.
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 07:56
It’s nice that you’ve found something you feel strongly about and you should definitely pursue it, MBA or no MBA. However, as far as your b-school applications go, here is some advice I wanted to offer you.

I think that the first thing you need to realize is that schools don’t care about your dreams just as they are. They want to see how your dreams are a part of your life and what have you done till date to suggest that you have a reasonable shot at achieving those dreams. They want to see that you’ve done something real towards achieving that goal and ideally have some sort of entrepreneurial or leadership thing going on in that field as well.

I know that it’s difficult to do this while working full-time but on the plus side, you have another two years to do something about it. I would recommend that you take atleast 2 years doing something to show that your interest in the digital media/sports realm is genuine and not just a passing phase because you’re going through a slump at work. You’re 26 (25?) at the moment and even if you were matriculating at 28 (29 even), that’s not a bad deal at all. Although a lot of schools are going younger, 28/29 is still fine with most schools.

Also, you need to spend a lot of time researching exactly what you want to do. You may have two or three options in mind but still you need to have a clear understanding of the career path each option involves and how each school will help you achieve this. Ideally you want to see who the big companies in this space are and where they recruit. That will probably be a better way to short-list your schools. Sometimes, these companies may not recruit on-campus and this is where your school’s pedigree/network comes into play.

Having said that though, I think you’ve done a good job of short-listing your schools. I would probably cut out USC and replace it with Stanford as a long-shot. Despite the odds, Stanford is probably a lot more likely to take a chance on someone like you if you’ve done something spectacular to show your interest in your field of choice. If you're not going to take the trouble then stick with USC.

The funny thing is, you may realize that you don’t need an MBA at all. It’s all about knowing the right people. Given that you’re in CA, you should talk to people who are doing something similar and see what’s the best way to go about this. For inspirations, you can read a little more about how Mark Cuban made it big. I’m sure he has a biography somewhere :).

The ‘doing something different’ career goals are a double-edged sword. On one hand they help you differentiate yourself from people with the usual MC/IB/PE/VC/HF career goals but on the other hand, schools will question your chances at landing that kind of job in the first place. This is where you need to showcase your network within your industry of choice.

If you’re going to be lazy about it and not do much to prove you have a genuine interest in your field, then I suggest a more traditional MBA goal with a slight niche. For example MC within the company’s media practice. Once you're in, you can do anything you want but it's unlikely that you'll get in otherwise.


To answer some of your other questions:

Don’t mention anything about your unique situations. It’s just a distraction and takes the attention away from your application.

Your GPA is low but your GMAT helps offset it to some extent. Your split is fine. 47Q is exactly what people think of when they want the 80-80 split. Besides, your engineering background shows that you have a strong quant background. I would have been more concerned if your V was below the 80th percentile.

Most top schools are brand whores but the lower ones (schools not named Stanford and Harvard) are lesser brand whores because they know what it’s like to not be the top brand. Besides, you can’t do anything about where you work unless you could go back in time or something.

Lastly, you definitely need to show a lot of interaction with clients. Try to spin your project management experience into some leadership experience. You could even talk about how you worked on a project in which you interacted with people in your desired field and learnt more about it and realized that you had found your calling :wink: . Also, make sure that you have one essay that shows you’ve done something outside of work. This will help you appear more balanced.

Well, that’s about all the advice I have right now. Hope this helps.
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 09 Feb 2009, 14:40
Appreciate the thoughts. 89nk I think I see what you're saying and it goes with what Legend is trying to tell me. Its not enough to say that I want to go into this. There has to be a why.

Legend, I'm not in Cali, I'm in TX. I'm flying out there to visit schools so hopefully the effort I'm making there will help to show the schools that I'm serious.

I'd really like to apply this fall so that doesn't really give me two years. It gives me till the fall to show that I'm making an effort to position myself towards achieving my goal. All I can really say right now is that I've maintained a blog about Dallas sports team for over a year and a half. I plan on hooking my site onto a large blog network of other sports blogs soon. Its nothing extraordinary but it was through this that I started realizing the growing market there is for blog networks or any other information source that gives fans access to as much info as possible as quickly as possible. One of the largest blog networks called SBNation which is run by a former AOL exec, just received a large amount of backing from venture capital. Seeing all this helped me realize theres a business behind all of this. Combine that with the role digital media has played in globalization of sports due to increased ability to reach larger markets as well as the likelihood that in the not too distant future we'll be seeing widespread capability to view any sporting event over the internet. Theres a lot of potential in this realm but I have no business background that allows me to enter into it or understand it from this angle.

So does the above explanation sound convincing in any manner as an explanation for what triggered my interest? Does it suffice as "something real" that I've done towards achieving my goal? I'm not sure, yet at the same time, I'm having trouble thinking of what I can do to position myself to show that I've made an effort towards pursuing this goal. I'll have to ruminate on this but would appreciate any more thoughts.
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2009, 03:51
There doesn’t have to be a ‘why’. Admissions is more of a ‘show but don’t tell’ game.
You have to show them that your interest /passion is a part of your life. The ‘why’ will fall into place.

I’m sorry to break this to you but just because you’re aware of an opportunity doesn’t mean that you can convince ad com to give you a spot at a top MBA program. Your goals essay has to be a statement of purpose, not a statement of dreams. No one is questioning your interest in this field. I’m questioning your ability to break into or to succeed in this field, given your background. Let me give you a slightly extreme example to make my point:

My post MBA goal is to save the world because I don’t like the direction the world is heading in. There is way too much blood shed and I want to use my MBA to do something about it. I qualify for this MBA spot because I am aware of this problem, feel strongly about it, and give $2/month to some charity that helps children in Africa :) .

I hope you see why this candidate doesn’t stand a chance despite his rather noble dream. Now if the same candidate had spent 2 years in the Peace Corps then maybe this goal is a little more realistic?

Hope you see what I’m getting at. This is what I recommend though. You need to make a list of companies you wish to work for and more specifically, the kind of post-MBA job you want to do. Ideally you want to chat with a few people who are doing something similar. Look at the career path five years in this job and see how an MBA fits into the whole picture, if at all. Would you be better off taking your money and creating your own start-up? Start with a business plan then as a lot of schools have competitions that fund such enterprises. Make a list of skills that are needed to succeed at this job. Then make a list of skills that you’ve acquired at your current job or outside that you think are transferable to your dream job. Any remaining skills are the ones you want to tell the b-school you hope to acquire through their program :). The key is ‘transferable skills’ though. Given your background, you have to dig deep to bridge this gap.

If I were you, I would take 2 years to do something about it. Join your fiancée while she’d doing her residency program and simultaneously get actively involved in this stuff. It won’t be easy but hey….. If this is not an option then I would pick a more conventional goal that fits well with what you’ve done career-wise. Pick something ambitious and realistic, nothing too dreamy. Your stats, combined with your age are reasonable enough that some elite school may take a chance on you. However, keep in mind that most elite schools will not have the kind of network it takes to break into your field. You definitely need to do more research to find out how your target schools will help you with your final goal.

You could also play it both ways. Try a creative essay with UCAL in Round 1 and see how that works. Otherwise you can try a more conventional essay with Hass in Round 2. A lot of people may disagree with this strategy but I would hedge my bets if I were really keen on attending b-school.

I’d be curious to know what you end up doing. Do IM me if you’re accepted to b-school. Good luck with your applications.
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Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry [#permalink] New post 10 Feb 2009, 23:38
I second what the above poster has said. I also want to add that you'd really need to talk to people in those fields to have an idea what it is really like working in that industry. Entertainment and Sports industry works differently from the typical businesses, meaning they may not care for an MBA as much as other companies do. So you need to do some research and find out if an MBA would really give you an edge in terms of salary/career adv. in the work that you want to do. If so, what types of job title require an MBA and what types of specific responsibility would each job title have.

I have worked in the entertainment industry, not sports though, and I've worked in digital media, also not in the sports arena. So everything I've said in this post pertains only to the entertainment industry. So take it with a grain of salt as your specific industry may or may not be similar to the entertainment industry as a whole.

As a fellow career switcher, I understand your frustrating with your current job. But I also want to caution you to do your research beforehand, otherwise you'd spend time and $ on a MBA only to be disappointed later. Ideally, you should get a part time internship if you can in a company to get a feel of what the industry is like. Most of the internships are unpaid in this industry. Even though you'll be asked to do really sh*tty tasks on your internship, at least it'll give you a good idea what the actual day-to-day jobs are like. Plus, if you still want to go for a MBA, it shows your determination and gives you relevant experience to talk about in your app. Esp. helpful if you make friends w/top ppl at your company who can then attest to your ability to succeed in the business, etc.

Digital media in the sports industry may be different from the entertainment industry. So you'll really need to do your homework to find out what's it really like. I applaud your enthusiasm for a new direction in your career, and I don't want to sound like someone who is discouraging you from pursuing your dream. But I do want you to be realistic b/c I know too many people who got into the entertainment industry lulled by the excitement, fame, $, creative work only to be let down later. The day to day work for the majority of people isn't what it seems like from the outside. And if you are looking to switch b/c it's a line of more creative work, it's also not as creative as it looks from the initial glance.

If you are interested in get an internship, you should get one soon. Internships in the entertainment industry at least, are geared towards fresh college grads. So you may already at a disadvantage in terms of your age. Also beware that being an excellent intern doesn't mean you'll get a good job offer afterwards or even give you much of an edge in an actual job application (unlike in other industries). There're just too many fish chasing after the same pie. You need personal charm, a ballsy attitude, excellent interpersonal and communication skills, patience, an outgoing personality and loads of energy to succeed in the entertainment business. If you want to try it out, I'd say go for it! I wish you the best luck. Hope you succeed!
Re: Profile review for engineer changing career and industry   [#permalink] 10 Feb 2009, 23:38
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