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Somewhat offbeat work history

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Somewhat offbeat work history [#permalink] New post 01 Jul 2013, 10:03
I have been set on applying to business school for months now but I am now slightly worried about what admissions committees may consider to be a somewhat offbeat work history. I am unsure as to wether my work history will be to my advantage as something that will add to the diversity of the class or just considered as too unusual and not quant-heavy enough. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Background:
I have been employed in the New York City art world for the past 5 years as the assistant director of a prestigious art gallery that is very well-known in our part of the art world. I started off basically as an intern there and have been promoted twice. I am the youngest assistant director that our gallery has ever had (by 15 years) and am one of the youngest in our field. I regularly work with important clients including notable private collectors and institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre, the British Museum etc.). It is an extremely competitive field where a well-rounded, highly professional demeanor is required (we regularly get applications from PhD's for unpaid internships). I have taken post-baccalaureate classes in the art history department at Columbia University to expand my depth of knowledge in the field.

I would like use my experience in the art world and parlay that into a career in luxury retail. I know that my top 2 choices both have clubs for luxury retail and Stern even has a "luxury marketing" concentration.

All other aspects of my application should be in line with other competitive applicants (GPA, GMAT, extras, etc.). What do you guys think? Is my work history not "blue-chip" enough to be considered competitive for top 20 schools? Columbia and Stern are my top 2 choices. Thank you in advance for any insight that you may be able to give me.
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Re: Somewhat offbeat work history [#permalink] New post 01 Jul 2013, 12:46
Hi ae71386ae - welcome to GMAT Club - and you should be reassured. Your background is going to be VERY appealing to the adcoms, provided that:

a) your stats (GMAT quant in particular) show that you can handle the rigorous curriculum of a top bschool
and
b) you have good reasons for wanting an MBA

Stern and Columbia care about the career goals a lot (we assume that Columbia the other school we assume you're targeting - unless maybe it's HBS, in which case what we just said doesn't apply as much). We had a former opera singer apply to these schools several years back and she had a helluva time because she couldn't figure out what she wanted to do with her life. (She ended up in a really good place though!!) By contrast, in this past season we had two different clients from the publishing industry do quite well in the process - publishing is definitely not seen as a typical pre-MBA industry and they had some challenges in nailing down their respective pitches, but they got interviewed all over the places (and they ended up in really good schools too!).

The phrase we use for MBA admissions is, you want to be similar but different. In other words, it should be obvious, without too much explanation, as to why you would want an MBA - someone with your profile should "fit" in bschool. But when you come at it with the different angle - that's how you stand out.

It's like most blockbuster movies: They're mostly stories we've seen before, but with a new twist. Similar, but different. That's what (we assume) you've got - or maybe in your case, "Different, but similar" - which is even better.

Your profile is one that all the schools will be interested in - they will get bragging rights to talk about this awesome student in the Class of 2016 who was at a high-profile art house. If you play your cards right you could be in fine shape.

If we can help further please don't hesitate to ask!

EssaySnark
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Re: Somewhat offbeat work history [#permalink] New post 02 Jul 2013, 08:55
Expert's post
Hey there,

I won't reiterate what Essay Snark said because I think their response hit on some key points and I agree with them all.

One thing I would mention is, as you look to construct your story, make sure you hit on some of the common themes. Just because you have a very unique (and interesting!) background doesn't free you of the requirements to make sure the adcoms know you have the basics. So to use Essay Snark's phrase "similar but different", establish your similarity before showcasing your uniqueness. For example, just because you have some really cool experiences, they should still tie into the base themes and then use the details provide the richness.

Your greatest advantage really is the collection of experiences you have to pull from. The challenge will be making sure you choose the right experiences to showcase! For you, it will all come down to story.

If you have any questions, let me know!

Bhavik
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Re: Somewhat offbeat work history   [#permalink] 02 Jul 2013, 08:55
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