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Should I post-pone?

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New post 12 Dec 2004, 21:19
Hi guys,

I would greatly appreciate your advice on the following matter. I am 27 years old, and I have five years of experience as a software engineer, four of which I lived in a different country (France) than my birth one (Romania). GMAT 720 (51Q, 35V, 3.5 AWA), Toefl 283 with 5.0 on the essay. I want to change my career, and I would like to earn an MBA from a top US school in order to have more career options. I have recently moved to Canada to improve my conversational English, and I’m planning to take a writing course to address my weak verbal GMAT score, too. The problem is that I’m still not sure what I would want to do with the MBA, and I’m afraid this will be very visible in my essays and during the interview. Plus, I didn’t have the chance to visit any of my target schools…
I’m thinking about waiting for another year, but instead of taking another programming job I would like to spend this time volunteering.
Do you think this will weaken my chances of being accepted to a top school next year? Will this be seen as a gap in my professional experience that I will have to explain?

Thanks a lot in advance!
Lucas
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New post 13 Dec 2004, 13:54
In general, we usually advise applicants to wait a year rather than rushing and putting together a less-than-perfect application. I think the same advice applies to you.

But, I wonder what exactly a year's worth of volunteering will do to help your application. It would help in that it would show your community involvement, but does it tie to your longer-term story about why you want an MBA? Don't get me wrong... I don't mean to make it sound like you should only volunteer if it would help you get into school. I think it's great that you want to do this! But you will need to be careful to aviod looking like someone who doesn't have a clear goal in mind.

You mentioned that the "Why an MBA?' question is a weakness in your app. I would therefore focus on trying to bolster this part of your application over the next year. I'm not sure if volunteering would help. Maybe it would, but I don't know. Maybe a better option would be for you to stay in your job and to try and take on new projects and bigger leadership roles.

BTW, your GMAT is fine. The verbal score is kind of low, like you said, but strong essays and good a pefrormance in your interviews should help to answer questions about your English skills.

Scott
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New post 13 Dec 2004, 22:07
Lucas,

When I look at the AWA of 3.5, that raises a lot of concerns for me. I know if your essays are really good, you didnt' write them. You need to get atleast a 4.5 in the writing in my opinion.

Otherwise, you have VERY strong profile....better than mine :-D
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New post 15 Dec 2004, 16:01
Hi Scott, and thanks a lot for your answer!

I see your point. In fact, as I am considering changing my career, I would like to step aside a little from my programming job and try something else for a while. Eventually, I will continue to work part-time as a software consultant to support myself, and use the rest of the time to volunteer. Non-profit management is one of the areas that interest me the most, maybe this will help me decide. I really want to do this, and I was thinking that volunteering for a longer period of time will show that I’m not only a “techieâ€
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New post 16 Dec 2004, 06:22
If you're looking to transition into non-profit management after you get you MBA, then your full-time volunteering now is a perfect fit! That makes a lot of sense. And I doubt that adcomms see a community service-oriented techie very often, which will help your application stand out.

Scott
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