I am a hopeful Round 2 applicant to the 2+2 program at HBS with a very strong GMAT and average-ish GPA from a top non-Ivy undergrad business program (Ross, Stern, McIntire, Haas, etc.). I would love insight from people here on how I could best highlight on my resume a nonprofit organization that I have not yet incorporated. It's been over six months since I started drafting the business plan, assembling a Board of Directors, and going through all the incorporation paperwork, but I have not yet legally incorporated or started the filing for 501(c)(3) status. Its mission revolves around a very personal topic for me and essentially boils down to mentorship for at-risk youth in bad neighborhoods (i.e. my hometown).
After reading a number of discussions on this forum as well as other similar MBA-oriented sites, my eyes have been opened to the sad reality that:
- applicants from standard finance/consulting backgrounds are a dime a dozen and need badly to differentiate themselves
- the 2+2 is designed for and heavily favors STEM and (to a smaller extent) liberal arts applicants while penalizing business students; successful finance applicants need a real 'hook'
- adcoms eat up personal stories like this and believe they tie heavily into the "change the world" mantra that schools have begun to adopt
- very often these personal essays translate to financial aid dollars as well
It kind of turns my stomach to be so Machiavellian and try to game the system, but if everyone else is doing it and this is how the game is played, it's gotta be wisest to emulate and adapt. For one, I want to be admitted, and two, after getting royally screwed on undergrad financial aid, I want to minimize the debt load from a graduate program.
Any tips on how to reference my heavy involvement with this organization (have already run a handful of programs) on a resume? Thank you in advance.
You can add this to your resume just the way you've described it here. If you launched the program then say so. You can even add a bullet saying that you're going through the process to incorporate the organization and form a board.
The reason why schools like this type of activity isn't just for "change the world" mantras. It's because activities like this demonstrate leadership and interests outside of yourself. Not every applicant wants to "save the world" nor should they pretend to. Schools simply want to see that you care about something, anything. Most times when people care about something they don't keep it to themselves. They share it with others through volunteering or forming a group around the idea. That's the type of energy adcoms like to see on their campuses. Someone needs to run the million and one student organizations and they want to see evidence that you'd be one of those people.
I wouldn't be so pessimistic in your outlook. You started this organization because it's something you care about. It seems as though you would have done it with or without b-school. There's nothing wrong with communicating this activity in your apps. It's not Machiavellian. It's what the school is asking for.
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