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I would love to get answers to some questions which have been troubling me no end. First, my profile:
Age: 26 Nationality: Indian Gender: Female
Education: Bachelors in engineering from a decent college in India. Good acads.
Work ex: 5 years at the time of matriculation (applying for fall 2013) 2 yrs of software development. I started out as an independent consultant in May 2011 (overlapping with my job as an asst marketing manager), and with the addition of a co-founder who shares my vision and a few interns to help out, and over the due course of many sleepless nights, business has started picking up.
Goals: Scaling up my venture to impact organizations globally. I am also interested in non-profit consulting and would like to take it up in a bigger way. Looking to specialise in entrepreneurship and social enterprise while at b-school.
The questions which are absolutely killing me: 1. My target schools list for this year: Kellogg, Fuqua, Ross, MIT Sloan (maybe), Cornell Johnson (again maybe), Yale I would appreciate some opinions on my school selection as I think I am probably aiming a little too high.
2. I have an admit from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore for their 2 year MBA program. While the program may be well-known in India, I am looking for a diverse class and a global network. Which is why I'm about to take a risk and decline the admit. Problem? I can't figure out for the life of me how good/bad my profile is! I'd love to hear honest feedback about how competitive my profile actually is.
Extremely sorry for the long post - I appreciate your patience. Thanks a lot in advance!
Last edited by radically on 29 Apr 2012, 11:27, edited 1 time in total.
Re: Building a profile for business school [#permalink]
05 May 2012, 12:27
Hi Alex, great read! definitely agree with a lot of your advice. Just one thing, I was wondering if you had any examples that exemplified the characteristics you wrote about? I know Steve Jobs and Bill Gates fit these criteria, but was hoping for people who were a little more down to earth in terms of stature
I’m an older applicant who wants to pursue a full time program and I desperately need a reality check.
Basics: 34-year-old Caucasian American male GMAT: 760 (44V, 49Q, 5.5AWA) Undergrad: 3.5 GPA from an average state school
Goal: Risk Management / CRO
Work: 8 years at a $12B regional community bank holding company with steady promotions and increased responsibility, 7 months interesting experience at a failed bank, and 3 years as a bank examiner (FDIC)
Community Service: Treasurer of neighborhood association, initiated annual volunteer day attended by 2 state / government regulatory agencies, AARP money management volunteer, Junior Achievement volunteer
Other: Marathon Runner
I’m shooting for top 16 schools (preferably Tuck or Cornell), but I understand that I’m an older average joe.
What’s realistic? What would be a good stretch school?
Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you!
Looking at risk management positions at big banks that require a combination of practical experience and MBA. Ideally would like to find a reasonably sized organization where I could design and implement the RM strategies.
I’m concerned about how PTMBA and EMBA programs are viewed by employers and fewer networking opportunities. Would strongly prefer the immersion and personal interaction of a FT program if it’s realistic.
Any thoughts on: 1. Is it realistic to pursue a FT program? 2. The reputation / value of PT/EMBA programs in the marketplace? 3. Your take on which are the top PT/EMBA programs?
I know that’s a lot of questions, but your candor and insight is thoroughly appreciated.
You have a misguided view of the exec and part-time programs. They will suit you much better for what you're after in terms of post-MBA goals (you're basically staying in the industry) as well as where you're at in your life.
Recruiters don't look down on exec or part-time programs. They are treated DIFFERENTLY.
Full-time programs are designed for folks who are early in their careers (a few years out of college). And recruiters are looking for these kinds of folks to fill mostly junior level positions (not quite entry level, but it's not mid-career like where you are already right now).
Part-time and executive programs are designed for people like you: folks who are mid-career and looking to transition within their industry sector.
As for "networking opportunities" - it seems like too many applicants don't really think this thing through, and treat it as shorthand for some vague notion that all of a sudden by being in school they will have the golden key to unlock the doors to the magic kingdom, or at least they will all become part of some old boys network (modern version of it) where money and jobs are traded like baseball cards.
Think about it. If you go full-time, many of your classmates will be almost a decade younger than you, and with significantly less experience (professionally and personally) than you. They are a few years removed from doing keg stands in college, and you (my guess) are either married with kids, or at that stage where your friends/contacts are at that stage (and where keg stands seems like a distant memory to you, almost adolescent). You were in college when Netscape went public (and where your current MBA students may not even know what that is), when Clinton was President, when Friends and Seinfeld were still on at its peak, and when John Elway and Michael Jordan were still playing and winning championships. You were a young adult when the dot-com boom hit and crashed, whereas most of your future full-time MBA classmates were still in elementary school. You vividly remember a world before Facebook, iPhones, text messaging, tweets, cell phones, and pre-9/11 security and innocence. Your classmates can't really remember a world without any of these lifestyle things or values. What do these kids (to you) have to offer for you? And conversely, what do you have to offer to them? You're likely on different planes of existence and mindset.
I'm not trying to make you feel like a dinosaur ,just to give you some perspective here.
Remember that "networking" basically means making friends in school. It's not "schmoozing" (because all talk is cheap). It's about relationships you build with people, and that trust is forged over time through working together on projects. Calling up some exec on the alumni database isn't really "networking" - it's just a form of cold calling where they won't hang up on you in 5 seconds or less. And you can do this whether you're a full-time or exec/part-time student -- either way, you're a stranger to the alumni on the other end of the phone (or text or email).
Again, in part-time and exec programs, you'll be around classmates that are closer to you in age, experience and maybe stage of life as well (regardless of whether they are single or married). Don't you think getting to know people like these are a better fit for you? _________________
Alex Chu email@example.com http://www.mbaapply.com
Thank you very much for your feedback last time. My profile has changed quite significantly (thanks to your suggestion).
My main question now is whether to apply this fall/winter or next
Schooling: MA/BSc in Math. Econ from UCLA. Graduated 2010 with both degrees GPA: 3.65 GMAT: 770 AWA 5.5 (official score)
Worked at the Federal Reserve Board as a quant. oriented research assistant. Aug2010-April2012
Working at the McKinsey Global Institute as a research fellow. The position is unique in that I do not provide research support. Rather, I'm staffed on a team of 4 to 5 associates and business analysts to co-author publishable reports. My role on the team is to provide expertise on global financial markets, while other team members provide insight on their practice areas. Once the report is sent out for publication, I'm drafted onto a new team to produce a new report.
On the side, I serve as a policy adviser for a LA mayoral candidate. I try to provide sharp but accessible analysis of issues that will catch voters' attention (particularly Latino votes). The aim is to demonstrate that our campaign has the brain power to put structure on complex issues and provide solution that the Latino community can relate to.
My end goal is to return to McKinsey. I would really like to attend one of the top 8 schools.
Ideally, I would like to apply this winter. But there are benefits to waiting one more year.
What do you think my chances are at the top 8 programs if I apply this year versus the next?
Look, if you really really want to apply, go for it, rather than looking to me or anyone else for reaffirmation. It sounds like you're in a huge rush, and you probably can't wait a year no matter what anyone tells you (I mean, you say your profile has changed significantly and it's barely been a few months - which to be blunt only reveals that you probably need a bit more experience under your belt; real change is measured in years, not just months, especially when you've had a bit more perspective). Again you've just *started* these new things - rather than looking too far ahead, how about just focusing on the things you've just *started* recently? _________________
Alex Chu firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.mbaapply.com
I appreciate your honestly, and that's exactly what I sought. I had the impression that the new brand name and the political involvement would answer some questions about teamwork and leadership. Your perspective makes sense.
The rush is coming from my deferring a near full ride to a top law school, and needing to reconfirm my intent to enroll by February, 2013. I would like to weigh my MBA prospects with that existing offer.
I would prefer to go to a top MBA program rather than a top law program. But I would have to give up what's concretely in front of me if I were to wait on the MBA application
I appreciate your honesty. I feel like I can always count on it. I'm very interested on any additional input, as long as you're willing to give it.
You're in a great place right now: a great job at a top firm, and invaluable political experience. And you're still young.
This is just my personal opinion, but you may have dodged a bullet by not going to law school (that is, if you are not going to law school after all).
I don't know too many lawyers who are happy or satisfied. The work can be miserable, no matter what kind of law you practice.
And it really boils down to one thing:
More than any other profession, law is about seeing the glass half empty, whereas most professions are about seeing the glass as half full: in business, you are working on boosting sales and growing a company. In medicine, you are hoping to save a life (or to make someone better). In engineering, you're building something (not destroying it). Even in the military, you are fighting in order to bring peace.
But in law, your job is to identify and prevent problems. You're looking at the negative. You spend 3 years in law school learning how to think like a lawyer: so that in the real world you know how to do two things as a lawyer -- identify the legal issue in a situation, and find a legal solution to prevent the issue from blowing up. It's oriented toward damage control. You're looking to *protect* your clients - it's defensive. And that kind of negative angle can wear down just about anyone. More than any other profession, it brings out the worst in a person's cynicism and jadedness. Maybe only law enforcement or being a corrections officer is worse (and it's not like the quality of life for law enforcement officers is that great).
Corporate law (the most popular and highest paying) is so dull you'll die from a thousand paper cuts. It's drudgery and makes you hate life. Trademark/IP can be interesting, but the malpractice insurance you'd pay is so sky high and where your clients misuse litigation as a business strategy that you'd secretly wish the Chinese would pirate everything and cause your clients to go bankrupt. Estate/family law means you'll be dealing with divorces, custody battles, and rich kids fighting over their dead parent's money. Litigation requires an almost sociopathic streak (they probably have the most dismal view of human behavior of anyone).
Again as a client - you only hire a lawyer when you have a problem, or when you want to prevent a problem from happening.
Plus, the legal market is stagnant. Maybe even declining. The job market sucks for law, and will likely continue to suck.
My advice for you is to just focus on what you have now, and take it a step at a time. If b-school is in the cards for you in the future, then great. If not, no big deal because you already have a strong foundation for your career.
But don't go into law school unless you are ABSOLUTELY sure you want to practice law, and you know what you're getting yourself into. Again, the career satisfaction rates for lawyers are amongst the lowest of any white collar profession (at least in the US).
Damn, even talking about the law makes this whole post negative. _________________
Alex Chu email@example.com http://www.mbaapply.com
Thank you spending the time to write all of that. I will give it some thought.
My passion lies in problem solving. I'm afraid law might not satisfy that need. On that basis alone, I think I have my answer. The rest is just finding the courage to walk away from that offer. On the bright side, it gives me something extra to write about on my essays.
You've been extremely helpful and generous. I really appreciate your guidance.
Profile Evaluation - Another Military [#permalink]
25 May 2012, 16:14
GMAT: None officially but I've taken the official practice GMAT (680 and 710) Undergrad GPA: 2.7 from US Air Force Academy MS in General Mgt: 3.92 from Central Michigan U. Current Occupation: Project Manager in Semi-Conductor industry in Bay area, CA Previous Occupation: 5 years Nuclear weapons officer (Left service as Captain) Applying to: Berkeley, Stanford, UCLA, and USC
Career Goal: I'd like to stay in the semi-conductor or tech industry in Northern California. Stay in operations and move up to exec level someday.
Primary Concerns: Low GPA obviously... that stands out the most in my resume and I'm really kicking myself for not trying harder in college. I had a difficult time balancing everything at a military academy. It's funny because I was able to excel at only one aspect of the trifecta (Military, Academics, Physical fitness) per semester, so my college transcript shows spikes in different areas throughout all 4 years. I did manage to finish a MS during my military career to try to make up for my poor undergrad GPA. I have tons of extracarricular activities which I did not mention here but is on par with what the other military members have mentioned. My leadership experience is probably different from the others in that I managed other officers(~220 in my wing) instead of the typical officer to enlisted relationship.
What GMAT score do I need to hit to offset my weaknesses? Is there anything else you reccommend besides excellent reccomendations and essays? I have 1 year of corporate experience in my current project management position. I was torn about pursuing an MBA because I am in a good position to move up in my company and my pay is very satisfying but I feel like I will hit a ceiling later. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
Re: What Can I Do To Improve My Chances? [#permalink]
15 Jun 2012, 13:34
Fantastic points Alex. This serves to reinforce my predicament (only took GMAT once and scored a 730, contemplating a re-take but will probably not serve me well with the time I spend studying rather than writing essays or visiting schools).
I was a bit surprised to read "You don't have to visit every single school you're applying to." Is it common to apply to a school in a different region and make it all the way to an acceptance offer without having ever stepped foot on the campus? (Whether it be tours or through a campus interview).
Can you share some insight on which round one should apply to and how many schools is too many? For example, I'm currently looking to apply to about 5 schools but is it out of this world to tack on an additional 2? Do I apply R1 for all of my reach schools and R2 for the more realistic targets? I'm a bit confused as to how to segment the schools with the different rounds.
With Wharton recently experimenting with a group-based exercise, UCLA requiring a video/audio essay (2 years ago), and now HBS changing it up, there's only going to be more school I believe that will continue to move away from the old model of long essays--> interview --> decision
In fact, I think they can (and likely will) move towards the following model: 1. Resume + simple application form (demographic info, test scores, GPA) 2. Interview + short essays (questions that are meant to reveal what cannot be reasonably inferred from the resume/profile alone) 3. Two or three recommendation letters 4. Decision
I don't think adcoms need essays or rec letters from EVERY applicant. At top schools, they can pretty much identify the top third to top half based on the resume/profile alone (and for those who aren't in the top third to top half, there's no need to waste the time of the adcoms, applicants, or recommenders on the essays and rec letters). Adcoms are trying to build a diverse class based on demographics and pre-MBA professional backgrounds - they are divvying up the applications into groups as it is, so it's not that hard most of the time to identify the top third to top half based on resume/profile alone.
And then once they've identified the top third to top half - they invite these folks for an interview (or interviews) and to write short essay questions that are only given to them once they've been invited. And since only a subset of the applicants are invited to write the essays, the adcoms can provide a different set of essay questions to different applicant groups (i.e. traditional applicants or those from "crowded" demographics are given a set of questions that will be different than the questions being asked those non-traditional professional backgrounds and/or underrepresented demographics - and this will allow the adcoms to more effectively evaluate subjective info from applicants based on their backgrounds).
And then only ask for reference letters once they've weeded out those from the interview/essays. The majority of the time, the rec letters won't make a difference either way, and it's really just to uncover any potential "gotchas" or info about the applicant that may be incongruous with what the adcom has seen so far. The rec letter in a way is a "human" background check to complement the standard background checks they will do on admitted students.
This kind of process I don't think will require more resources or time from the adcoms (in fact, it may be less) -- and it's a more efficient and effective way to evaluate applicants (and saving the applicants time as well - giving them more chances to apply to more schools, which will benefit all b-schools as they see applications rise since more applicants will "punt" if there are no essays required for the initial round). _________________
Alex Chu firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.mbaapply.com
A lot of people will fall into this trap of trying to pre-write the essay. DO NOT DO THIS.
That's why they are asking this essay in the first place. They want to know how you follow up based on what happened in the interview.
Adcoms can sense pretty quickly if something is pre-written: it's either too vague and generic, or it's covering material in such a decorated and stage managed way that it's obvious someone spent way too much time trying to manicure every single sentence and to contrive an example that had nothing to do with what happened in the interview.
A strong post-interview essay is one that directly responds to or is a follow up to what was discussed in the interview.
And you have no real way of figuring out what that will be. Sure, you can do interview coaching (and you probably should - if not with a consultant, at least practice mock interviews with colleagues and friends), some folks may tell others what their HBS adcoms had asked them and so forth. But it's not about that. It's about the nature of the discussion and what you actually said in the interview - and more importantly, how the adcom responded to some of the moments in the interview as you were talking about yourself. There is no way of predicting how an individual will respond to you, or to even know in advance beyond just a vague idea of how the actual moment-to-moment experience will be like in that interview room.
Finally, too many people are stressing out about this post-interview essay. The thing is, it's not going to really matter for 99.9% of the folks who actually get interviewed. The decision is basically made based on the interview itself - no "mini essay" afterwards is really going to change their mind if they already liked you, or they thought you were a tool. It's something they instituted this year - and it's an experiment. If it doesn't really impact their decision making, it will be gone (or significantly changed) next year. Again, this year is an experimental year for HBS - they are trying to change the format in which they assess people, and so they are keeping an open mind about the process. Having said that, in my opinion I think the importance that many applicants seem to put on this post-interview essay is overblown.
In short, what HBS is basically saying this year is that the two biggest things that matter are: your resume and your interview performance. The essays and rec letters are minor and likely won't be a huge factor for most applicants. In other words, HBS adcoms believe that for many applicants, they can pretty much figure out whom they want to interview based on the resume alone (and the essays won't matter much unless they really suck). And that for most of the people that get invited for an interview - they can figure out based on the interview performance alone whom they want to admit. _________________
Alex Chu email@example.com http://www.mbaapply.com
Hi Alex, I've been reading your posts and they are by far the best quality out of the consultants on gmatclub as you give a direct, no frill answer and are unafraid to hurt applicants feelings. I'm wondering if I can get a profile evaluation, hopefully this wont take more than 5 minutes of your time.
Ethnicity: Asian American Male Age : 26 Gmat: 710 Undergraduate: UC Berkeley 3.59 GPA Business Administration
Work Experience: 3 yrs - City and County of San Francisco as an accountant - working on department budget in the Controller's Office, general ledger, compliance, grants at department of public health, medical cost reimbursements 0-1 yrs - Big 4 as an Audit Associate (unfortunately laid off) - tech firm audits
ECs/ Tid bits: CPA 2 yrs - Created a stock blog as a hobby - was marginally profitable 1 yrs - Was webmaster for the California Investment Association at UC Berkeley 1 yrs - Historian at Asian American Association at UC Berkeley Study Abroad for a year in Japan, interned at Robert Half Boy Scout of America Eagle Scout
Post MBA Goal: Become a budget analyst for governmental institution to help higher education retain funding. Long-term Goal: Become a budget director of a university school system and structure pension and health care benefits
Stretch: Columbia, Northwestern Target: Michigan, Duke, Yale, NYU Safety: Haven't given it too much thought.
Thanks so much!
Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply
15 Jul 2012, 00:36
Check out this awesome article about Anderson on Poets Quants, http://poetsandquants.com/2015/01/02/uclas-anderson-school-morphs-into-a-friendly-tech-hub/ . Anderson is a great place! Sorry for the lack of updates recently. I...