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Ask Alex @ MBA Apply

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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2013, 10:32
Alex,

I'm trying to decide if it's worth to apply for an MBA this year (2013) or if I should postpone my plans for at least another year. I've talked with 2 Brazilian MBA coaches and career advisers regarding this subject, and both of them encouraged me to apply in fall 2013 1st round IF, and only IF, I manage to get an excellent score at the GMAT exam (say 720+, for example). Despite that, I still remain skeptical, since I'm not sure if they only want me as their client or if I really stand a chance of getting in (especially in my dream schools). That's why I would be pleased if you could evaluate my profile.

Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nationality: Brazilian
Undergrad: Business at a top 5 business school in Brazil
GPA: 8.1/10.0 (16th out of 90 students)
WE:
4 months as an intern in Itau (Latin America's largest Bank);
12 months working for a Brazilian M&A boutique - (My team successfully closed 2 cross-border transactions);
12 months in Private Equity (as of JAN/2013) working for a Brazilian firm focused on mid-market opportunities;
Extra-Curricular Activities:
During college, I was part of a group that founded a student organization at my university, which was an awesome accomplishment since we left our legacy to the school (we were responsible for setting an AIESEC office - the world’s largest student ran organization).
International Experience:
Did a high school exchange program, were I stayed for 1 semester in Brisbane, Australia; had the opportunity to travel to over 10 different countries in my life; attended a retail convention in the US, as well as had the chance of doing business with multinational companies and interacting with foreign investors of my firm's fund.
Post-MBA Goals
I was born into an entrepreneurial family. We have a retail chain in Brazil, with over 100 stores, ~BRL 1 billion in revenues (~USD 500 million), and over 6,000 employees.
I believe that, with the experience I had in Private Equity and M&A, combined with the academic, professional and personal experiences that an MBA will provide me, I would be ready to go back to Brazil and assume a leadership position at my family's company. Being part of the team that leads its growth and causes a positive social impact in my country is a dream.
Target Schools:
Top 10 US MBA programs in general ( H|S|W are my dream schools)

thanks in advance!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2013, 16:38
mainhoon wrote:
Excellent Alex. Makes total sense. Most do MBA to figure out what they want to do, take a break etc. not what they write in essays.. I like the MIT model - don't tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done...

Posted from my mobile device Image


Yes, I believe Rod Garcia (MIT adcom) a few years back already mentioned this about how they felt that they could yield more insight by having applicants focus on talking about their past experience.

The other questions that are frankly silly are the gimmicky ones -- if you were to choose a mascot for the school what would it be and why, which leader would you want to be in an elevator with, etc. Even Booth's "powerpoint" which I thought was silly - because a *real* powerpoint presentation that is effective is often very sparse and incomplete and therefore cannot be viewed in a vacuum - because it's often there to support the person speaking since an effective presentation is one where the audience is focused on the speaker, so Booth's so-called powerpoint slides end up having to be far more cluttered than what would normally be used in a real presentation. I always liken it to wanting to know how good a hamburger is based on only the buns alone. Thankfully, Booth realized their folly and have since changed the wording - so that it's not a "presentation" but more of a blank canvas.

Kellogg's "essay tweet" about something fun this past year I felt was a waste (i.e. whether someone is "fun" or not can be revealed far more authentically if the essay prompt is more straightforward; gimmicky questions force applicants to overthink it or to come up with equally gimmicky and artificial responses) - I get that they are trying to see if applicants can come up with a "tagline" for their so-called "brand" (another trendy and gimmicky thing - to refer to oneself as a "brand" that is interchangeable with products for sale). Kellogg can get too cute with the way they word their essay questions.

Ask simple, direct questions about the applicant's past. That's all that's needed. If the applicant is dumber than a bag of hammers or is one-dimensional in terms of personality and insight - that will be apparent. And conversely, those who have depth and intrigue don't need gimmicky questions to be able to reveal their true colors.

Finally, from my own experience having worked with many applicants, I find that folks tend to clam up when they have to talk about something they aren't sure of or what they think adcoms want (goals, mba, gimmicky questions), or about work (since it's easy to default to corporate speak since that's the language of the workplace). However, I found that most applicants to be refreshingly candid about themselves when they are asked questions about who they are as people, or essay questions that ask about their non-work/personal experiences.

Adcoms want to get to know who these applicants are, and applicants really do want to reveal who they are (few people enjoy crafting BS narratives). The onus is on the adcom to stop asking essay questions that make applicants over think it (or to make stuff up).
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Last edited by AlexMBAApply on 24 Jan 2013, 16:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2013, 16:40
fmbraga wrote:
Alex,

I'm trying to decide if it's worth to apply for an MBA this year (2013) or if I should postpone my plans for at least another year. I've talked with 2 Brazilian MBA coaches and career advisers regarding this subject, and both of them encouraged me to apply in fall 2013 1st round IF, and only IF, I manage to get an excellent score at the GMAT exam (say 720+, for example). Despite that, I still remain skeptical, since I'm not sure if they only want me as their client or if I really stand a chance of getting in (especially in my dream schools). That's why I would be pleased if you could evaluate my profile.

Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nationality: Brazilian
Undergrad: Business at a top 5 business school in Brazil
GPA: 8.1/10.0 (16th out of 90 students)
WE:
4 months as an intern in Itau (Latin America's largest Bank);
12 months working for a Brazilian M&A boutique - (My team successfully closed 2 cross-border transactions);
12 months in Private Equity (as of JAN/2013) working for a Brazilian firm focused on mid-market opportunities;
Extra-Curricular Activities:
During college, I was part of a group that founded a student organization at my university, which was an awesome accomplishment since we left our legacy to the school (we were responsible for setting an AIESEC office - the world’s largest student ran organization).
International Experience:
Did a high school exchange program, were I stayed for 1 semester in Brisbane, Australia; had the opportunity to travel to over 10 different countries in my life; attended a retail convention in the US, as well as had the chance of doing business with multinational companies and interacting with foreign investors of my firm's fund.
Post-MBA Goals
I was born into an entrepreneurial family. We have a retail chain in Brazil, with over 100 stores, ~BRL 1 billion in revenues (~USD 500 million), and over 6,000 employees.
I believe that, with the experience I had in Private Equity and M&A, combined with the academic, professional and personal experiences that an MBA will provide me, I would be ready to go back to Brazil and assume a leadership position at my family's company. Being part of the team that leads its growth and causes a positive social impact in my country is a dream.
Target Schools:
Top 10 US MBA programs in general ( H|S|W are my dream schools)

thanks in advance!


They are right. The GMAT is critical -- anything below 720, and it's going to be a big stretch. That's why rather than thinking about b-schools, focus on the GMAT prep first and foremost. Nothing else. Until you get that GMAT, it's not really constructive to speculate on whether you're competitive or not. One step at a time. Good luck!
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Profile Evaluation [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 16:25
Thanks in advance for your evaluation of my profile. The major question I have is what are my chances at my target schools if I apply this coming fall (2013) and would I benefit from waiting an extra year and apply in 2014.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience. What do you do?

1 year at small engineering firm as design engineer, 1.5 years as Financial Analyst in Operations FP&A at a Fortune 200 telecommunications/pay TV provider with a lot of C-level exposure, and will have 7-8 months as Content Acquisition Analyst (deal valuation/due diligence and contract negotiations) at same fortune 200 if I apply Fall 2013

At current company I have been promoted twice with increasing responsibility, but no direct reports at this time

2) Your GMAT.
730

3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.

Attended top 20 engineering school, Major: Biomedical Engineering with emphasis in Mechanical Engineering, Graduated May 2010, GPA: 2.9 Major GPA: 3.1.
Obviously something that needs to be addressed is my GPA. Really no excuses on how bad it was. I was completely unfocused during college especially during my freshman and sophomore years. I just wasn't prepared to deal with rigors of an intensive engineering program. My GPA was a 2.4 my freshman year and trended upwards throughout to a 3.5 my senior year (even with the unexpected passing of my father during my senior year). I realize that even my senior year was just average compared to top programs GPAs. Any suggestions on how to address this would be welcome, as I feel my GMAT and ability to pass CFA Level 1 while working long hours is more indicative of my ability.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Part of multiple sports teams outside of work, do triathlons/marathons, and volunteer at Boys and Girls Club

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
Passed CPA Level 1 while working long hours

6) Your target programs.
Columbia, Tuck, Booth, Yale, Stern, Ross, Cornell (Johnson). Any other suggestions would be great.

7) Your post-MBA goal.
Would like to get into an Investment Banking TMT group (or at specialize in telecommunications/tech) or Corporate Development at a telecommunications or tech company
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 01:54
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

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Re: Profile Evaluation [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 09:28
smahr11 wrote:
Thanks in advance for your evaluation of my profile. The major question I have is what are my chances at my target schools if I apply this coming fall (2013) and would I benefit from waiting an extra year and apply in 2014.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience. What do you do?

1 year at small engineering firm as design engineer, 1.5 years as Financial Analyst in Operations FP&A at a Fortune 200 telecommunications/pay TV provider with a lot of C-level exposure, and will have 7-8 months as Content Acquisition Analyst (deal valuation/due diligence and contract negotiations) at same fortune 200 if I apply Fall 2013

At current company I have been promoted twice with increasing responsibility, but no direct reports at this time

2) Your GMAT.
730

3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.

Attended top 20 engineering school, Major: Biomedical Engineering with emphasis in Mechanical Engineering, Graduated May 2010, GPA: 2.9 Major GPA: 3.1.
Obviously something that needs to be addressed is my GPA. Really no excuses on how bad it was. I was completely unfocused during college especially during my freshman and sophomore years. I just wasn't prepared to deal with rigors of an intensive engineering program. My GPA was a 2.4 my freshman year and trended upwards throughout to a 3.5 my senior year (even with the unexpected passing of my father during my senior year). I realize that even my senior year was just average compared to top programs GPAs. Any suggestions on how to address this would be welcome, as I feel my GMAT and ability to pass CFA Level 1 while working long hours is more indicative of my ability.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Part of multiple sports teams outside of work, do triathlons/marathons, and volunteer at Boys and Girls Club

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
Passed CPA Level 1 while working long hours

6) Your target programs.
Columbia, Tuck, Booth, Yale, Stern, Ross, Cornell (Johnson). Any other suggestions would be great.

7) Your post-MBA goal.
Would like to get into an Investment Banking TMT group (or at specialize in telecommunications/tech) or Corporate Development at a telecommunications or tech company


Apply this upcoming year, and if you don't get into the programs you want, then reapply the following year. You have enough experience that it's at least worth giving it a shot this year.

In terms of schools, you've got a decent mix of stretches (CBS, Booth, Tuck) and sweet spots (Yale, Stern, Cornell, Ross), and with 7 total, I wouldn't apply to more. You're in the hunt for these schools, so it's a matter of doing the best you can on the apps, and hope for the best.

As for your GPA, not much you can do there, other than maybe enrolling in 1-3 online extension classes (a few universities like UCLA offers this) in freshman level courses like calculus, algebra, statistics, microeconomics, etc. and ace them to give them further evidence that you're no dummy (that the low GPA was due to lack of effort, not lack of brains). What also helps is that you were in engineering, so adcoms will be a bit more forgiving since they know that engineering tends to grade on a much harsher curve than other disciplines.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2013, 21:10
Hey guys- Thanks so much for doing this!

24/Asian/Male - plan on applying for the fall of 2014

Work Experience
I Spent 1 year doing an education-based Americorps program in a mid-sized city in the South. I am currently working as a junior researcher for a research institute that studies education and is affiliated with a large, reputable research university. My job primarily consists of doing statistical analyses (ie cleaning data, regression analysis, and a bit of mapping). I have been at my job for 1.5 years. Also, before my Americorps year, I spent three months at a large internationally focused NGO.

GMAT
730 (q48 v42). I also took the GRE and scored a 1410 (q800 v610)

College Info
Top 10 LAC. Majored in math and economics and graduated with a 3.4 out of 4.

Extracurricular Activities
In college I was President of Model UN and I tutored students at a local middle school twice a week. I currently am on the alumni board of the Americorps organization I worked for. Also hope to start tutoring students on weekends.

Post MBA giaks
I am not sure what I want to do when I get out, but I know with 100 percent certainty I dont want to be an academic:). I was thinking perhaps economic consulting.

What schools do you think I am competitive for?

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2013, 05:01
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 10:44
obiwanginobili wrote:
Hey guys- Thanks so much for doing this!

24/Asian/Male - plan on applying for the fall of 2014

Work Experience
I Spent 1 year doing an education-based Americorps program in a mid-sized city in the South. I am currently working as a junior researcher for a research institute that studies education and is affiliated with a large, reputable research university. My job primarily consists of doing statistical analyses (ie cleaning data, regression analysis, and a bit of mapping). I have been at my job for 1.5 years. Also, before my Americorps year, I spent three months at a large internationally focused NGO.

GMAT
730 (q48 v42). I also took the GRE and scored a 1410 (q800 v610)

College Info
Top 10 LAC. Majored in math and economics and graduated with a 3.4 out of 4.

Extracurricular Activities
In college I was President of Model UN and I tutored students at a local middle school twice a week. I currently am on the alumni board of the Americorps organization I worked for. Also hope to start tutoring students on weekends.

Post MBA giaks
I am not sure what I want to do when I get out, but I know with 100 percent certainty I dont want to be an academic:). I was thinking perhaps economic consulting.

What schools do you think I am competitive for?

Thanks!


What helps your case is that you're an Asian guy who is NOT in finance. You're a bit on the young side (by about a year or two), so it may help to get another year of work experience. With that said, I think schools like H/S/W are big stretches (but it may be worth targeting one or two), and Sloan, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Tuck and Haas are stretches but within range (i.e. choose 2-3 from this list). Schools like Ross, Duke, Darden, Cornell, Yale, Stern and UCLA are sweet spots.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 10:46
neo0911 wrote:
Hi Alex,

Thanks so much for your reply and it’s really helpful. Actually my current situation is a little bit tricky and I need your opinion on this:

I’m now resigning from my current company because of certain personal reason. At this point, since I have decided to apply in fall 2013, should I look for another job or just take a break and concentrate on my MBA application? If I choose not to take any job and just focus on my application till this fall, will it be an employment “gap” in my resume, a issue which will be taken negatively by the b-schools? How should I address it? Or should I just look for a new job? But the following question is what kind of the job should I take, staying with my current job function/industry? Since I don’t have very strong background in community activities or extracurricular activities in the past, will it be a good idea that I take this opportunity to take some NGO/NPO job from now till the end of my application this year?

Really need your advice as I’m so confused about what to do next. I don't concern too much about the money issue but want to know what move will best suit the needs for my application. Thanks so much!



Don't be foolish and focus on b-school apps while unemployed.

Get a job. Focus on your professional career in parallel with your b-school apps. Get the kind of job you would normally want to get irrespective of b-school. Don't be foolish and make job choices for the sake of a resume or for the sake of others.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 18 Feb 2013, 21:37
AlexMBAApply wrote:
SUGGESTED CHANGES TO THE MBA APPLICATION

Over the past eight years, I have been an admissions consultant, having reviewed thousands (if not tens of thousands?) of applicant profiles on various discussion forums as well as with clients who elect to sign up for my service.

And I know that some admissions committee members also read these boards as well as my blogs.

There have been gripes from admissions committee members that applicants are being "over coached" or that that it's more difficult for them to really get a sense for who the applicant is as a person (i.e. that the applicant's essays are inauthentic).

And there's a straightforward fix to that:

1. STOP ASKING THE WHY MBA/WHY NOW/GOALS QUESTION.

Theoretically, this may make sense. However, the reality is, everyone knows that b-schoolers don't know what they want to do. They are going to school to figure that out. Furthermore, having been an MBA student myself and know a lot of MBAs, having a strong narrative for this question has ZERO bearing on that person's caliber as an MBA student or in the recruiting process. In reality, we take it as it comes - it's not entirely in an applicant's control, because what job they take is as much a function of the job offers they get. That is why so many applicants trip up on this question because it forces them to make stuff up, or to be more specific than they really are about their goals.

Same with the "why MBA" - what are you adcoms hoping to get from this that won't sound cliche, boring, or simply just BS? And if they do say something truly original - it's likely gimmicky. There are only so many reasons why someone wants an MBA -- and the *real* reasons you don't want to hear are often personal ones: they are lonely at work and want to be around folks their own age; they want to find a soulmate; they want to re-live their college years, last chance to feel like a young student again before settling down post-MBA as a soon-to-be-married adult, etc. They feel stuck or bored in their careers and lives and want a change.

As for "why now?" - because they want to go... now! I want to go now because I hate my job. I want to go now because you adcoms don't like older candidates. And so forth. If you don't want applicants to bullsh*t you, then stop asking this question, because for 99% of the applicants who actually do get in - their responses to this essay was mostly BS or some standard issue narrative that doesn't really reveal their "authentic self." If adcoms don't bullsh*t answers, then stop asking questions like this.

Ironically, b-schools seem all about ethics these days, and yet, they ask a question that puts many applicants in a position to misrepresent themselves in order to "play along." Or they end up admitting the best bullsh*tters. Again, speaking from real experience as a b-school grad, the why MBA/goals narrative has ZERO to do with caliber, talent, or focus.

Thankfully, HBS and Sloan don't ask this anymore. It's about time other schools stop as well. It's a waste of time for everyone involved.

2. STOP ASKING THEM TO KISS YOUR ASS

Essays about "how will you fit into our culture" or questions about how the school's mission and values fit with the candidate's own history will naturally lend itself to plenty of ass kissing. It ends up being this BS story parroting the school's so-called values (give me a break... what's next - "mission statements" and "mantras"? Or "pillars"?).

I understand that adcoms want to identify candidates who may be a fit for a school. But you don't find that out by asking them directly to comment on your silly catchphrases that you call "values" or "culture," because you'll get plenty of empty platitudes and insincere compliments about how amazing the school is.

I mean, are the essays more about applicants telling the school how wonderful the school is, or is it more about finding out more about the applicant?

3. STOP ASKING ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

I know b-schools like to think they are training leaders, but come on, most people applying are in their mid-20s in junior positions at work. And even if they do volunteer somewhere outside of work, they aren't exactly General Patton. I know, there are different "models" of leadership or whatever linguistic gymnastics you use, but the fact is - you're dealing with YOUNG ADULTS. Or those in their 40s and above like to say - THEY ARE KIDS.

The more you push them to talk leadership, the more BS, embellishment and so forth you will get. Most of the incoming students don't have much *real* leadership experience simply because they're young and very early in their careers (and frankly they are *barely* adults). And whether they do or not at this point in their lives has little to do with the kind of leader they will be in their 40s should they be senior execs by then.

So cut this crap about leadership. It's pure BS, or you end up with students with their head up their ass talking about the kind of "leaders" they are (while they troll for undergrads at sorority parties on the weekends). These applicants are not CEOs. They are kids a few years out of college. Even those in their later 20s - they are still young in the grand scheme of things.

Asking b-school applicants about leadership is akin to asking high school kids about marriage. The overwhelming majority are not in a position to really know that firsthand, and that's okay. They very well could be amazing leaders later on, but there's no way of judging that right now because they are young, and they will not be the same people in their 40s.

4. ESSAYS SHOULD FOCUS ON WHO THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF WORK.

Thankfully, more schools now are doing this, but they could go further by getting rid of essays that deal with work entirely.

Why?

As an admissions consultant, I can predict reasonably accurately where people tend to get into based on a raw profile alone. And frankly, so can most adcoms. A resume, GMAT, GPA can pretty much tell you whether the applicant is even in range. I'm sure there are "diamonds in the rough" but even then you can probably spot that in their resume (i.e. they have something that makes them unique or intriguing).

You don't need to hear about yet another work project about how they worked in cross-functional teams and went above and beyond, led a group of people towards a common goal, blah blah blah. Again, you can pretty much get a gut feel for their career progress and overall caliber as a professional based on their resume (and a quick read through of their reference letters).

The essays should ideally focus on finding out who they are outside of work. It's not just about "extracurriculars", but about their personal backgrounds, what they love doing (even if it's a hobby), some important or formative moments in their lives.

By asking these questions, you will get the opportunity to really see the person behind the resume/profile -- and likewise, the applicant can write from a place of expertise - THEMSELVES. They are writing about their own personal history and what makes them tick, what their priorities are. You are then giving the applicants the opportunity to truly reveal more about who they are.

For example:

What are the three most joyous moments in your life thus far and why?

What have been the two lowest moments or biggest setbacks personally - how did you deal with it and what did you learn about yourself?

Aside from family, who or what is most important to you and why? (a version of "what matters most and why").

What personal experience in the last five years has changed you, and in what way?

What have you done or experienced in your personal life that you're most proud of?

If there was one moment that you could take back, what would it be and why?

What has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) in your life, and how has that surprise shaped who you are or your values?

And so forth. If schools want to build a class full of mature, thoughtful people with integrity and a sense of values, ask them to talk about who they are outside of work. The level of depth (or lack thereof) shown in these essays can be revealing. Adcoms can gain insight into who the applicant in ways that no resume can (but is a good complement to the resume, or "professional profile"). Also, asking them about their non-work self allows each applicant to reveal more of their personality, which gives the adcom a better sense of whether they are a fit for the school or not, because the applicant is *revealing* who they are (through the tone of their writing and what they are writing about), and not *telling* the adcom or parroting what they think the school's culture should be. It's about the applicant, and not about the school. A lot of the kinds of things adcoms are looking for (personality, team/people orientation, curiosity, exposure to different kinds of people, etc.) can be inferred or revealed in these kinds of essays in a more meaningful way.

Finally, adcoms hate jargon. Asking about non-work stories has a way of cutting out jargon entirely (because jargon is often used in work contexts).

5. CUT DOWN ON THE REC LETTER QUESTIONS

Some schools (Haas and Columbia in particular) ask way too many questions which often seem to be repetitive.

HBS, Stanford and Wharton are a good model to follow. 4-5 short questions is all you need. Maybe even 2-3: in what capacity do they know the applicant; what is their greatest strength or talent, and what is their weakness.

If you want rec letters written by the recommenders that are substantive, make it easy for them to do so. Cutting down on the question and/or even better - standardizing them so they are similar across all schools will ensure that recommenders can spend the quality time to be thoughtful, rather than rushing to submit 6-7 different rec letters for the 6-7 schools the applicant is applying to.

The written application and the essays in particular can still be useful -- so long as they are asking the kinds of essay questions that minimize BS in the first place.

This is a great read.. Would you mind putting this up as a new thread??.. I think it might be easily overlooked otherwise since it is so deep down into this thread.. :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 19 Feb 2013, 08:15
Alex,

Awesome suggestions. I feel recommendations are the worst part. They tell nothing about the applicant. In most cases the candidate will select someone who will champion him and provide him/her with all the colorful details. This is the best case scenario. In the worst case the candidate will be writing his own recommendation. The problem is that apart from some of the Top Consulting and I Banking firms most other firms will not look very kindly upon someone who plans to leave the firm. This may effect the individuals performance appriasal and bonus.
For the other suggestions feel that they will not be accepted by B Schools. B Schools are looking for candidates who are good at hat marketing themselves. Inspite of the fancy essays B Schools is not the place for social workers. The best social workers do their job quietly and usually are pretty far away from B Schools.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2013, 20:02
Hi Alex,

I am 25, Male, Indian

Education: Bachelor of Commerce, University of Delhi (GPA 4.00), Post Graduate Diploma in Management (GPA 4.00)

GMAT: 760 (Q50, V42, AWA 5, IR 8)

Professional: WE of 2 years (~2.5 years at the time of application), Founder Publishboat.com, Business Development Head at Safedecor Pvt. Ltd. (20 million dollar company manufacturing high pressure laminates), Past work ex: Infosys consulting (Senior Associate Consultant) for ~18 months

EC: President of Choreography Society in College (Lead a team of 20 in various national-level competitions)
Volunteer/Member of Padhai- Education for the under-privileged (~ 5 months)

Career Goals: Short term- Grow Publishboat.com to be the literary agency of choice in India, Long term- Internet Entrepreneurship

Target Schools: Based on my research, the best schools for mba in entrepreneurship seem to be Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Tepper and Yale

Application: R1 or R2 (October-December 2013)

Why MBA? To acquire skills and knowledge of entrepreneurship

Will really appreciate your insights on my profile and suggestion on other schools which are good for entrepreneurship. Which schools are my Stretch and which, safety?

Thanks,
Harsh
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2013, 09:36
AlexMBAApply wrote:
harshkhemka88 wrote:
Hi Alex,

I am 25, Male, Indian

Education: Bachelor of Commerce, University of Delhi (GPA 4.00), Post Graduate Diploma in Management (GPA 4.00)

GMAT: 760 (Q50, V42, AWA 5, IR 8)

Professional: WE of 2 years (~2.5 years at the time of application), Founder Publishboat.com, Business Development Head at Safedecor Pvt. Ltd. (20 million dollar company manufacturing high pressure laminates), Past work ex: Infosys consulting (Senior Associate Consultant) for ~18 months

EC: President of Choreography Society in College (Lead a team of 20 in various national-level competitions)
Volunteer/Member of Padhai- Education for the under-privileged (~ 5 months)

Career Goals: Short term- Grow Publishboat.com to be the literary agency of choice in India, Long term- Internet Entrepreneurship

Target Schools: Based on my research, the best schools for mba in entrepreneurship seem to be Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Cornell, Tepper and Yale

Application: R1 or R2 (October-December 2013)

Why MBA? To acquire skills and knowledge of entrepreneurship

Will really appreciate your insights on my profile and suggestion on other schools which are good for entrepreneurship. Which schools are my Stretch and which, safety?

Thanks,
Harsh


To be honest, if your business were so successful (or on the cusp of really ramping up), why would you take two years off from it?

If you really believed in your business, you wouldn't be applying to b-school. And to wax poetic about networks, what you'll learn, etc. is BS and you know it.

The overwhelming majority of MBAs (even at the schools you listed) aren't exactly budding entrepreneurs. The b-school program is geared primarily to graduate folks who can start in middle mgmt positions right after school. It's the kind of environment that tends to attract prestige-oriented, risk-averse individuals - including the schools you listed. And there is nothing wrong with that -- but don't fool yourself into thinking that b-school somehow will turn risk-averse folks into enterprising, risk-taking individuals. Different people have different values and priorities.

Again, if you really believe in your business, you owe it to yourself to invest the money you would've spent on b-school on your business instead. If you really are interested in entrepreneurship, don't bother with an MBA: you can always hire them.


I appreciate your honesty Alex. And I agree with most of what you have written. However, I must clarify that the business is at a nascent stage. The way I look at it, by the time I join one of these schools, the business will be a year and a half old. So it will be old enough for me to take stock and review it, but young enough for me to reinvent it (if necessary). And I believe that MBA in entrepreneurship will provide me the tools to do either of the two. And if I delay taking the course, I may be too rigid in my views to ever change them. Interactions with the faculty and specific knowledge about entrepreneurship will actually increase my appetite for risk-taking.

I am 25 years old and I am an idealist (I think I am supposed to be). I do believe that a b-school is a land of great wonders, where I will get to interact with super-smart people, learn from their experiences and reinvent myself. Factors such as location (especially in case of Stanford) can turn out to be very important. Entrepreneurship is a lot about being at the right place at the right time, and these institutes will give me an opportunity to do just that.

Needless to say, your honest assessment is really thought-provoking, but this is how I look at things right now.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 04 Apr 2013, 01:49
Alex, thank you for doing this. I’m planning on applying for Fall 2014 intake.

Electrical Engineering B.S., UC San Diego, GPA 3.2
1 semester studying abroad in Sweden
GMAT: 730 (Q49, V40)
Work Experience:
2.5 years at DoD Org. – Rotational Program for STEM graduates
After a few rotations I chose to work in cost analysis because I wanted more exposure to the organization’s business side
2+ years at Peace Corps (current) – Community Development volunteer in West Africa
I work on a large USAID funded project to improve water access and sanitation in rural communities

Extracurricular: Before Peace Corps I was a member of an outreach team in my church that meets weekly to distribute food and encouragement to the homeless community in my city. I took a leadership role to help organize an annual event we throw for the homeless. I was also a member of Toastmasters.

Age 26 at matriculation

Goals: Short term I want to work as a consultant in international development or the social sector. I would like to return to Africa in the short term as well. However, looking at a few employment reports of some top MBA schools it seems only a handful of students from each class end up working in Africa after graduation. Is this because of lack of MBA positions or lack of interest?

Target Schools: Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck, Haas, Fuqua, Ross, Yale. I plan on choosing 3 of these schools to apply to in round 1 and if I don't get accepted, I'll proceed with round 2. Also, I won’t have the opportunity to visit any of the schools because I’ll be applying while in the Peace Corps.

Do you think I’m targeting the right range of schools?
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 07 Apr 2013, 21:44
Jamico7 wrote:
Alex, thank you for doing this. I’m planning on applying for Fall 2014 intake.

Electrical Engineering B.S., UC San Diego, GPA 3.2
1 semester studying abroad in Sweden
GMAT: 730 (Q49, V40)
Work Experience:
2.5 years at DoD Org. – Rotational Program for STEM graduates
After a few rotations I chose to work in cost analysis because I wanted more exposure to the organization’s business side
2+ years at Peace Corps (current) – Community Development volunteer in West Africa
I work on a large USAID funded project to improve water access and sanitation in rural communities

Extracurricular: Before Peace Corps I was a member of an outreach team in my church that meets weekly to distribute food and encouragement to the homeless community in my city. I took a leadership role to help organize an annual event we throw for the homeless. I was also a member of Toastmasters.

Age 26 at matriculation

Goals: Short term I want to work as a consultant in international development or the social sector. I would like to return to Africa in the short term as well. However, looking at a few employment reports of some top MBA schools it seems only a handful of students from each class end up working in Africa after graduation. Is this because of lack of MBA positions or lack of interest?

Target Schools: Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck, Haas, Fuqua, Ross, Yale. I plan on choosing 3 of these schools to apply to in round 1 and if I don't get accepted, I'll proceed with round 2. Also, I won’t have the opportunity to visit any of the schools because I’ll be applying while in the Peace Corps.

Do you think I’m targeting the right range of schools?


For the most part, you're targeting the right range of schools - you may even consider sneaking in an app for Stanford or HBS as well if you have time, given that you have a strong but non-cookie cutter profile (engineering experience + Peace Corps).

Keep in mind that admissions is a numbers game to some degree: it's a bit of a crapshoot, and you'll want to apply to enough schools to maximize your odds. The ideal is around 5-6. You'll find that 80-90% of your time and effort will be spent on the first 2-3 schools, and each additional school after that will take comparatively very little time (i.e. an extra day to a week to complete 4-6, because there's more than enough overlap for you to adapt what you've done with your first 2-3 schools).

Rather than spreading it out over 2 rounds, a lot of applicants tend to find it easier just to get it over with in one go. You can probably shoot for 4-6 for R1, and if you have any energy left, maybe 1-2 for R2 (at most).

H/S/W: choose 2; I think you have enough of an outside shot that it's worth at least putting your hat in the ring for 2
Kellogg, Sloan, Tuck, Haas: choose 3; you'll be competitive for these schools
Fuqua, Ross, Yale: choose 1; if you're looking to stay in the social sector / development / non-profit, focus on Yale.

As for schools visits, for the most part it's not essential, especially if you're on the other side of the world. The only place that puts more emphasis on it is Tuck, simply because of its remote/isolated/rural location is unique amongst b-schools and may not be for everyone - they want to make sure admits know what they're signing up for. In any given b-school class at most schools, you'll find a good chunk of the class have never stepped foot on campus until they got the admit.

Finally, re: your Africa question, it's a bit of both -- lack of well paid opportunities (outside of oil/gas or mining - and those jobs tend to be on the technical side and the managers tend to get promoted from the technical ranks anyhow), and lack of interest from MBAs as a whole. Remember that a lot of b-school students graduate with significant debt, which then becomes a big consideration when it comes to jobs.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 18 Apr 2013, 08:01
A

Last edited by Diver on 27 Nov 2013, 11:45, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2013, 15:52
Diver wrote:
Hi Alex: Following up from my email communication...Would be great if you can share your thoughts on this...Thanks...



You need to readjust your expectations. There's nothing wrong with your profile -- you have a solid professional background with good numbers (GMAT/GPA), but the thing is, you're up against a LOT of other corporate professionals of a similar caliber competing for few spots. As such, the top 8 schools will be stretches (Sloan, INSEAD and Columbia are in the same tier as Wharton, Booth, Kellogg). You have enough of a shot that they're worth applying, but you should choose maybe 2-3 from this list and expand your list of top 16 schools instead.

Stretch: choose 2-3 from Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, Sloan, INSEAD, Columbia. If you're looking for real estate oriented type of careers, focus on Wharton, Sloan and Columbia.
Sweet spots: these are schools in the top 16; choose 3-4 from Johnson, Stern, Yale, Ross, Darden, Duke, UCLA. For real estate development/finance, look at Johnson, Stern, Yale, and UCLA as your best best from this group. Note this tier of schools are NOT safeties. They are schools where you are more competitive for, but where it's no sure thing either.
Safety: these are schools outside the top 16, such as Tepper, Texas, USC, UNC, Georgetown, Emory, Purdue, Indiana, Maryland, etc. These are solid regional schools where you have a pretty good shot of getting into. However, in your case, it may be worth looking into Cambridge or Oxford if you're looking to work in the UK post-MBA (both of these are reasonable safeties for you), or applying to ISB.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 21 Apr 2013, 15:59
Hi Alex. I am currently applying for Desautels (McGill) 's full time course this year . In fact , I am a 30 year old pharmacist with 6.5 work experience 5 of them in a multinational pharmaceutical company first as a sales representative then as a sales trainer after being promoted.I had distinguished extracurricular activities during high school and undergrad but later my job consumed 80% of my time , the rest 20% was dedicated to PG studies and to my family . PG studies include a diploma in Industrial Pharmacy and another in "Training the Trainer" , and a certificate in written translation .In addition to all these ,I got an HR certification from SHRM as well as some workshops and non-academic courses including finance for non-financial managers . Knowing that my GMAT scores are 540 , then a 550 , and my GPA varies between 2.82 -2.94 after assessing it on different GPA calculators,while Desautels responded to my inquiry that they look for 600 GMAT and a GPA 3 , encouraging me to apply but meanwhile implying that they can forgive a slightly lower GPA for a satisfactory GMAT , what do you advise me to do ? which strengths can you see in my profile can compensate for the GMAT gap? knowing that I am applying these days to catch the deadline but will still retake the GMAT for the 3rd time next month aiming at updating them with a better score.By the way , on their website it is said that the range of GMAT scores for their students is 560-780.

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 22 Apr 2013, 14:10
IS BUSINESS SCHOOL WORTH IT?

One of the most basic but important question I get from folks is whether an MBA is worth it (and in particular, a full-time program).

The debate seems to have been going on ad infinitum, with sentiment ebbing and flowing with the state of the economy.

From a practical standpoint for many folks who are deciding on whether to apply or not (or whether to attend or not * after * they have gotten admission!), the answer may be clearer than you’d expect.

1) CONSULTING: AN MBA IS BASICALLY A PREREQUISITE

Regardless of your prior professional background, if you’re looking to work as a management consultant at firms like McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Monitor, LEK, Accenture, Deloitte, etc. then an MBA is worth it, because you don’t really have much choice: you’re highly unlikely to get hired without one.

Even if you are a consultant looking to upgrade your brand (i.e. you work at a small no-name consulting firm and hoping to work at McKinsey), your chances are slim unless you get an MBA. And even if you are looking to stay at your current firm, you will likely be highly encouraged to go back to do an MBA (read: your chances of getting promoted to a post-MBA position are slim unless you have one).

Moreover, for many of these firms, you essentially have to shoot for the top 16 US programs (and LBS and INSEAD in Europe), since these consulting hire the majority of their incoming associates from these programs. You will get some MBA hires who did not go to these schools, but they are a minority. They will also hire some folks from law schools or direct industry hires, but for the most part, consulting firms have a highly structured (and highly stratified) recruiting process that focuses on a select number of schools.

2) FINANCIAL SERVICES: AN MBA IS A MUST IF YOU DON’T HAVE A FINANCE BACKGROUND

Regardless of what aspect of financial services you’re looking to work in – investment banking, equity research, sales/trading, asset management, private equity, hedge funds, venture capital, commercial lending/underwriting, insurance, etc. – if you don’t have a finance background and looking to make a career switch into it (even if you have corporate/business experience), then you’ll have a very hard time getting these jobs without an MBA.

The culture of financial services doesn’t value the MBA to the same degree as consulting, but it is often seen as a passport to getting in the door for those with no prior relevant experience. And areas such as investment banking focus their recruiting efforts almost exclusively on top 16 MBA programs.

Also, if you’re in a “back office” or “middle office” role at a financial institution (or you’re in any support function such as IT at a bank), and you’re looking to make that switch into revenue generating functions as listed above, then an MBA is worth it to re-brand yourself because it’s hard to make that switch without one.

While some schools have introduced specialized Masters’ programs in finance, these programs are still relatively new compared to the established MBA programs. Basically, if you had the choice, the MBA is the better bet and will give you more access to recruiters than a specialized masters program.

3) NON-BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS SEEKING A CORPORATE CAREER IN THE US


If you are coming from a non-business profession (engineer, science researcher, lawyer, doctor, military officer, teacher, athlete, artist, etc) and looking to transition into business job function, then an MBA can be extremely valuable. Although not a must like it is for consulting or financial services, getting an MBA is certainly worthwhile enough since making that transition into a business career will be easier and faster.

“Corporate life” basically includes the two industries above (consulting and financial services), but also any job function on the business side in any industry: marketing, operations, financial planning/corporate finance, business development, corporate development, human resources, investor relations, etc. In many of these jobs beyond the college entry level, they require either relevant prior experience or an MBA (and most of these firms will not hire you to start alongside fresh college grads at the entry level).

4) BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS SEEKING TO SWITCH INDUSTRIES

Basically, an MBA makes it much easier if you’re looking for a fresh start (without having to fully start over) in a new industry. For example, you’re a brand manager at a consumer products company who is looking to switch into business development at a green technology firm. Or, you’re an investment banker looking to work in sports marketing.

This also applies to social enterprise and non-profit, since the kinds of jobs you would be aiming for on the admin/managerial side tend to be staffed by “corporate refugees” who previously worked in the private sector, and tend to hire people in their own image (i.e. those with business backgrounds and/or with MBAs).

Of course, it’s certainly more possible to make this switch without an MBA (unlike the other three situations above), but an MBA will make it a lot easier for you to make that switch without having to take a huge step back in pay and responsibility.


So if any of these four things applies to you, then the answer is easy: an MBA is worth it (assuming you believe these careers to be worth pursuing), even without considering any of the intangibles or personal factors, such as the network, taking two years off for personal “me” time, discovering new interests, learning more about other careers, and so forth.

SO WHEN IS THE MBA NOT WORTH IT FROM A CAREER STANDPOINT?

Simply put, an MBA won’t have much benefit from a career standpoint if you are already working in a business job function AND you’re not interested in switching to consulting or financial services.

For example, if you’re a banker or PE guy who wants to stay in finance (in any capacity), an MBA won’t be worth it from a career standpoint, because an MBA isn’t going to make it any easier for you to change from one firm to the next, or from a PE to a HF and back again. It ultimately comes down to your transaction experience, network, and the job market in the industry - when it’s hot, you will have firms coming to you; when it’s cold, an MBA won’t help you land jobs that don’t exist.

Or if you’re simply looking to move up the ladder in your industry in a similar job function, then you don’t need to go back full-time: consider doing a part-time MBA or an executive MBA down the road.

Finally, if you’re looking to start your own business in the short-term, you are better off investing that money in wise counsel and getting that business off the ground right away while the idea is still hot in your mind, rather than spending two years in business school where you will learn mostly “book knowledge.” The biggest problem with business schools and entrepreneurship is that business schools unwittingly teach students to conceptualize their way through problems as a substitute for rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty. In plain English, they confuse analysis for execution, and running your own small business often lives and dies more on the latter than the former.

THE MYTH OF THE LONG-TERM

Forget about the long-term value or even the medium-term value of an MBA. The reason why is simple: it’s debatable, it’s a matter of opinion, and it’s ambiguous. You will get more conflicting and differing opinions on this than you would on what it will do for you in the immediate term (i.e. right after graduation). Furthermore, if the value of the MBA in the short-term is limited at best in your situation, then it’s not going to be any more valuable in the medium- or long-term.

When deciding whether an MBA is worth it to you or not, focus on the short-term benefit: what it will do for you in terms of recruiting while you’re an MBA student? Will it give you access to the kinds of jobs you want immediately after graduation? While it may seem cynical to disregard the academics – the reality is, the MBA is a professional degree whose main purpose is to turn students into employable business professionals after graduation, so the academics aren’t an end in itself, but a means to that end. While business schools would like to say that they want to teach you knowledge that you can use for your entire career long-term, the reality is, the kind of knowledge and decision-making you do in the long-term will have little to do with what you learned ten years prior in b-school, and more to do with your recent experiences and lessons learned in the past three to five years. Again, the value of what you learn in business school is most relevant (if not exclusively relevant) to your first few years after business school.

In plain English, the MBA is ultimately about helping you secure the kinds of jobs in the short-term you want that you couldn’t have gotten without the degree (or would at least make it a lot easier for you to secure those kinds of jobs). That, more than anything else, dictates whether the MBA will be worthwhile to you.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply   [#permalink] 22 Apr 2013, 14:10
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