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Taking year off to volunteer?

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Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 08 May 2012, 11:37
Hey everybody,

I just joined this site. It looks like it will be a fantastic resource while I start thinking about an MBA.

Here is a brief overview of my profile:
Undergrad: Wharton
GPA: 3.75
GMAT: Haven't taken yet (hopefully 700+)
WE: 2 years BB IB, 2 years PE at a large middle market fund

I am strongly considering doing Americorps for a year. I have always wanted to do a volunteer program, and I think I would really enjoy it. Plus it would give me the time to take the GMAT and get my applications in order.

However, I am worried that it might hurt my MBA application because I do not want to pursue NP/NGO/social entrepreneurship after my MBA. I would rather go back into finance.

I was talking to my friends, and they said that schools would just look at this as an application booster since I am doing it right before I apply for admission.

How would adcoms view this?
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 08 May 2012, 11:59
"However, I am worried that it might hurt my MBA application because I do not want to pursue NP/NGO/social entrepreneurship after my MBA. I would rather go back into finance."

Given the above, I think it would just confuse the adcom. If you were planning to go into nonprofit, it would make perfect sense. Out of curiosity, what's holding you back from applying now? Wharton + high GPA + 2 years IB + 2 years PE = M7 MBA (assuming you get a ~700+ on the GMAT).
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 05:45
Expert's post
quaker wrote:
Hey everybody,

I just joined this site. It looks like it will be a fantastic resource while I start thinking about an MBA.

Here is a brief overview of my profile:
Undergrad: Wharton
GPA: 3.75
GMAT: Haven't taken yet (hopefully 700+)
WE: 2 years BB IB, 2 years PE at a large middle market fund

I am strongly considering doing Americorps for a year. I have always wanted to do a volunteer program, and I think I would really enjoy it. Plus it would give me the time to take the GMAT and get my applications in order.

However, I am worried that it might hurt my MBA application because I do not want to pursue NP/NGO/social entrepreneurship after my MBA. I would rather go back into finance.

I was talking to my friends, and they said that schools would just look at this as an application booster since I am doing it right before I apply for admission.

How would adcoms view this?

It all depends on if your story makes sense. If you take out the studying for GMAT part, which I'm sure you won't include anyways, your story does make sense. Your stat does not look like you need an application booster, so I wouldn't worry about that. I would actually encourage you to do this, IF you TRULY do want to volunteer. Who knows, maybe you will surprise yourself after your volunteer experience and do something else. B-school isn't the end all be all choice for everyone.

Here's how I would approach the story.
I love finance because ...... But I saw a lot of inequity around the world and I have always wanted to give back, specifically (tie it to the area you are volunteering in) ..... At that point in my career, I know I had a choice to make, either continue on my path, or take the opportunity while I'm still young (haven't started a family) and the stakes are relatively low to give back. I'm so glad I took that opportunity, because I learned .... (things you learned about yourself and others while volunteering)


Good luck.
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 06:09
asimov wrote:
quaker wrote:
Hey everybody,

I just joined this site. It looks like it will be a fantastic resource while I start thinking about an MBA.

Here is a brief overview of my profile:
Undergrad: Wharton
GPA: 3.75
GMAT: Haven't taken yet (hopefully 700+)
WE: 2 years BB IB, 2 years PE at a large middle market fund

I am strongly considering doing Americorps for a year. I have always wanted to do a volunteer program, and I think I would really enjoy it. Plus it would give me the time to take the GMAT and get my applications in order.

However, I am worried that it might hurt my MBA application because I do not want to pursue NP/NGO/social entrepreneurship after my MBA. I would rather go back into finance.

I was talking to my friends, and they said that schools would just look at this as an application booster since I am doing it right before I apply for admission.

How would adcoms view this?

It all depends on if your story makes sense. If you take out the studying for GMAT part, which I'm sure you won't include anyways, your story does make sense. Your stat does not look like you need an application booster, so I wouldn't worry about that. I would actually encourage you to do this, IF you TRULY do want to volunteer. Who knows, maybe you will surprise yourself after your volunteer experience and do something else. B-school isn't the end all be all choice for everyone.

Here's how I would approach the story.
I love finance because ...... But I saw a lot of inequity around the world and I have always wanted to give back, specifically (tie it to the area you are volunteering in) ..... At that point in my career, I know I had a choice to make, either continue on my path, or take the opportunity while I'm still young (haven't started a family) and the stakes are relatively low to give back. I'm so glad I took that opportunity, because I learned .... (things you learned about yourself and others while volunteering)


Good luck.

I agree with asimov. You already have the work experience you'll need to be a competitive candidate. Actually the majority of people with Peace Corps, Americorps, etc experience also have had traditional roles in finance/marketing/consulting/etc. You don't need to have a "social impact" post MBA goal to justify your choice to volunteer for a year.

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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 07:27
Follow your dreams instead of worrying about the imaginary reactions of MBA admissions committees. :wink:

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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 07:43
I think you have a great profile as is. If you want to volunteer for a year because you want to give back/get fufillment/ live in an exotic location while doing good and can afford it after 4 years of great work experience, but all means do it.

If you are looking to boost your ECs I don't think you need to take a full year off the dedicate yourself.

I would say the only risk you would have (and this may be more in job interviews post B-school) is that if you are looking to go back to finance, you may get asked "It looks like you got burned out or disillusioned with banking/PE, what makes you think that won't happen again? I think if you have an important story about wanting to give back (or even better having a specific reason for volunteering, rather than just wanting to do something different of a year) you have nothing to worry about.

GMAT pending, the rest of your profile looks very good for a top 10 school, with a realistic shot at H/S/W. Set your sights high.
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 08:45
quaker wrote:
Hey everybody,

I just joined this site. It looks like it will be a fantastic resource while I start thinking about an MBA.

Here is a brief overview of my profile:
Undergrad: Wharton
GPA: 3.75
GMAT: Haven't taken yet (hopefully 700+)
WE: 2 years BB IB, 2 years PE at a large middle market fund

I am strongly considering doing Americorps for a year. I have always wanted to do a volunteer program, and I think I would really enjoy it. Plus it would give me the time to take the GMAT and get my applications in order.

However, I am worried that it might hurt my MBA application because I do not want to pursue NP/NGO/social entrepreneurship after my MBA. I would rather go back into finance.

I was talking to my friends, and they said that schools would just look at this as an application booster since I am doing it right before I apply for admission.

How would adcoms view this?

If you want to do it and can make it happen then my vote is to go for it. I can't imagine that a school would hold a year of volunteering against you, and if they did I would seriously reconsider whether that's the kind of institution you want to associate with.
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 09 May 2012, 09:41
Do it if you truly want to do it. I'm currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer working in East Africa. For me, it was something I always thought about doing, and after working two years following graduation, realized if I didn't do it now, it would never happen. Although the work is definitely challenging, and it's tough to be away from all the comforts of home, it's something that I'll look back on and never regret. You said you are looking to go back into finance? Although I doubt I will (I was an undergrad finance major), it's always a possibility. Chances are, your volunteer experience will change your outlook, and possibly your post-MBA goals. I know for me it certainly has.

In conclusion, I'd say go for it. If you have nothing holding you back now (marriage, kids, mortgage, etc.), there may never be another chance for this in your life.
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Re: Taking year off to volunteer? [#permalink] New post 14 May 2012, 18:36
Agree completely with this post. You may never have an opportunity again to go volunteer for a year.

With that said, you don't necessarily have to commit to a full year of volunteering. There are plenty of short-term volunteering opportunities available. Either way, your profile is strong enough where I doubt adcoms will think you're just volunteering to beef up your application.

jazzman wrote:
Do it if you truly want to do it. I'm currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer working in East Africa. For me, it was something I always thought about doing, and after working two years following graduation, realized if I didn't do it now, it would never happen. Although the work is definitely challenging, and it's tough to be away from all the comforts of home, it's something that I'll look back on and never regret. You said you are looking to go back into finance? Although I doubt I will (I was an undergrad finance major), it's always a possibility. Chances are, your volunteer experience will change your outlook, and possibly your post-MBA goals. I know for me it certainly has.

In conclusion, I'd say go for it. If you have nothing holding you back now (marriage, kids, mortgage, etc.), there may never be another chance for this in your life.
Re: Taking year off to volunteer?   [#permalink] 14 May 2012, 18:36
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