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Ask Alex @ MBA Apply

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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 27 Feb 2013, 23:01
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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.
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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, 14:09
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TheNona wrote:
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 :)


Retake the GMAT. I know you are hoping for me to say "you can overcome your lower than average GMAT, yes you can!" but that would just be giving you false encouragement. With schools in this tier, it's ultimately about your GMAT. Good luck!!
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Last edited by AlexMBAApply on 22 Apr 2013, 14:11, edited 1 time in total.
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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] New post 24 Apr 2013, 05:39
Hey Alex,

I appreciate your 'no-nonsense' advice so I was hoping you could lay some on me!

About me:

I’m 27 years old and am from Northern Ireland. Growing up I was fortunate to live in 13 countries (mostly Asia but with spells in S.America and Australia) and travelled to many more (35+).

Work Experience:

Currently just under 5 years. Would be 6 or 7 depending upon when I decide to matriculate.

1 years 6 months: After graduation I was employed by (and co- founded) a start-up which focused on providing VC, Executive management expertise and international marketing to small to mid-stage growth companies within the oil and gas sector. We had a VC fund of $5million, which I raised funds for, and my work took me to Norway and Singapore regularly. The partners have recently wound up the business as they have been offered senior positions with other start-ups (they are both VP level within the industry)

6 months: I worked for an executive level figure within a multinational asset manager to create, develop and market new investment vehicles. These focused upon the alternative energy space and were marketed to institutional investors in Europe alongside the larger Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds.

3 years Worked for another multinational asset manager, the investment arm of one of the world’s largest banks. Joined at the Analyst level and was promoted to Associate after 1 year and 3 months. Initially worked in global strategy but requested a move into institutional sales as I wanted to have a more direct and perhaps tangible effect upon the balance sheet, along with wanting to interact with fund managers, investment analysts etc more. Primarily worked on pitches and research for our emerging market focused products.

Present (4 Months): Business development manager, raising assets from institutional investors for an Asian based investment firm with responsibility for clients in the Uk, Netherlands and Ireland.


Extracurricular:

College: I played rugby for the college team; I also managed one of the intramural teams (Got the squad together, liased with other teams, secured sponsorship etc). Assisted with coaching of a local junior school rugby team in the area. Was a member of the university investment club.

After College: I sit on an alumni committee for my university which gets events going in and around the capital and which also seeks to increase alumni involvement with the university for mutual benefit. Participate in various charities and do volunteer work. I have climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity and have helped to build an orphanage in Vietnam. I continue to travel as opportunity allows, and hobbies include golf and rugby.

Qualifications:
I have been accepted onto a part time MSc in Finance at Cass Business School in London, commencing September 2013. The MBA would definitely be my preference and, if the masters won’t aid my admission, I’ll forgo it to focus on my MBA applications

Weaknesses:
Very low GPA. I don’t know what it translates to in the American system as I studied in the UK, but I’ve seen it converted as low as 2.0. No excuses, I had a hard time at college but bare sole responsibility for my own failings. I’ve worked hard to prevent it from holding me back.

I not sure which is the best way to combat this, taking several college level classes and getting A's (UCLA extension perhaps) doing the masters and putting off my MBA application for a year or two?

GMAT: 720. I may be able to push this higher with dedicated study and practice. I’m looking to matriculate in 3 years.

Target Schools

Stretch: NYU, Duke, Darden,Ross

Sweet spot/Fall back: UNC, Emory, Georgetown, Texas @ Austin, Rice, Marshall

So:
- Is the MSc in Finance something I should pursue? My only interest in doing so would be if a) I’m very unlikely to gain admission to any of the schools listed above b) it would help my application
- Are the schools I have listed appropriate?

Thanks again, I look forward to getting your input
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Apr 2013, 11:07
Hello .I am applying these days to catch the Desautels (McGill) deadline for this fall semester.I am applying with my current GMAT official score (550 , 39 Q 27 V) already sent to them a couple of days ago.Since they demand a minimum of 600 , I will retake next month but the only available appointment is on the 16th whereas their deadline to receive official scores is the 31st .Consequently , I applied with my current score intending to update them with a scanned copy of my unofficial score on test day .In the personal history pdf form I have to fill as a part of the application ,they have a space to indicate my test date in case I applied before taking the test . Do you advise me to indicate that I will retake the test , or this can result in an informal "on hold" status ? Knowing that my online application has the GMAT score ticked "submitted" .

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2013, 03:26
Hello Alex,

I'm in dire need of your blunt advice.

My Profile:

Nationality: Indian
GMAT: 700 (Q 49 V36)
GPA: 75% from a top 50 engineering school
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Work Experience: 7 years at Matriculation with a top Oil exploration and refining company (I worked only in downstream - refining)

4 Years: Mechanical Engineer - Maintenance. Lead a team of 6 technicians. Worked towards ensuring the reliability and availability of mech. equipment. Developed maintenance plans - Preventive and Predictive. Active involvement in Tendering and Contract Management.

2 Years: Senior Engineer - Maintenance and Projects. Leveraged the maintenance expertise to streamline and manage Revamp Project activities. Lead a team of over 40 technicians to complete shutdown activities well ahead of schedule. Job included planning, inter - department coordination and execution.

1 Year: Senior Engineer - Vigilance. Leveraged the technical and commercial expertise to bring systemic improvements across the organization. Focussed on areas that required system development or improvement and recommended changes to improve efficiency, transparency and effectiveness.

Leadership
• Elected Representative for Management Staff Association (Officer's association to liaison with the Management)
• Work profile full of leadership examples

Extra Curricular:
• Active Member of Toastmaster's Club
• Community Service through the CSR activities of my company - Organized blood donation camps, AIDS awareness campaigns etc.
• An active event organizer throughout my life - right from school till today. Was a member of Organizing Committee for Annual Tech. & Cultural fest at college. Active participation in organizing company events including handling venue, logistics, decor, liaison with speakers etc.

Future Plans:
Energy Consulting with a focus on sustainability.

Target Firms:
GE (internal consulting)
Bain
McKinsey

Backup Plan: Operations management in Energy industry. Target Firm: Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP.

Wish to apply to:

1. Tuck
2. Duke Fuqua
3. Darden
4. UCLA
5) Johnson
6) Emory
7) Mc Combs
8) Kelley
9) Ivey, Canada
10) Rotman

I wish to apply to the first 5 schools in R1. The others in subsequent rounds, in case R1 doesn't bear any fruits.

I am skeptical in the following areas:

1. Do I have the USP to get into the programs mentioned above, considering I don't take another shot at GMAT ?? Request you to highlight any apparent weaknesses in my profile.

2. Is my choice of schools ok ? What schools should I focus on. A list of schools reputed for placements in the energy sector (Consulting and Operations).

I wish to clarify here that I took GMAT in 2011 and had applied to Ivey and Rotman in Canada. I got rejected from both the schools after interview. But I must mention that I hadn't done any research about B-school applications and Interview and I had not portrayed my balanced profile through the essays and specially during the interviews.

This year, I hope to put in the best possible application package through thorough research and introspection.

Look forward to your response.
Thank You.

Best Regards,
KUNAL
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2013, 10:59
JDonaghy13 wrote:
Hey Alex,

I appreciate your 'no-nonsense' advice so I was hoping you could lay some on me!

About me:

I’m 27 years old and am from Northern Ireland. Growing up I was fortunate to live in 13 countries (mostly Asia but with spells in S.America and Australia) and travelled to many more (35+).

Work Experience:

Currently just under 5 years. Would be 6 or 7 depending upon when I decide to matriculate.

1 years 6 months: After graduation I was employed by (and co- founded) a start-up which focused on providing VC, Executive management expertise and international marketing to small to mid-stage growth companies within the oil and gas sector. We had a VC fund of $5million, which I raised funds for, and my work took me to Norway and Singapore regularly. The partners have recently wound up the business as they have been offered senior positions with other start-ups (they are both VP level within the industry)

6 months: I worked for an executive level figure within a multinational asset manager to create, develop and market new investment vehicles. These focused upon the alternative energy space and were marketed to institutional investors in Europe alongside the larger Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds.

3 years Worked for another multinational asset manager, the investment arm of one of the world’s largest banks. Joined at the Analyst level and was promoted to Associate after 1 year and 3 months. Initially worked in global strategy but requested a move into institutional sales as I wanted to have a more direct and perhaps tangible effect upon the balance sheet, along with wanting to interact with fund managers, investment analysts etc more. Primarily worked on pitches and research for our emerging market focused products.

Present (4 Months): Business development manager, raising assets from institutional investors for an Asian based investment firm with responsibility for clients in the Uk, Netherlands and Ireland.


Extracurricular:

College: I played rugby for the college team; I also managed one of the intramural teams (Got the squad together, liased with other teams, secured sponsorship etc). Assisted with coaching of a local junior school rugby team in the area. Was a member of the university investment club.

After College: I sit on an alumni committee for my university which gets events going in and around the capital and which also seeks to increase alumni involvement with the university for mutual benefit. Participate in various charities and do volunteer work. I have climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money for charity and have helped to build an orphanage in Vietnam. I continue to travel as opportunity allows, and hobbies include golf and rugby.

Qualifications:
I have been accepted onto a part time MSc in Finance at Cass Business School in London, commencing September 2013. The MBA would definitely be my preference and, if the masters won’t aid my admission, I’ll forgo it to focus on my MBA applications

Weaknesses:
Very low GPA. I don’t know what it translates to in the American system as I studied in the UK, but I’ve seen it converted as low as 2.0. No excuses, I had a hard time at college but bare sole responsibility for my own failings. I’ve worked hard to prevent it from holding me back.

I not sure which is the best way to combat this, taking several college level classes and getting A's (UCLA extension perhaps) doing the masters and putting off my MBA application for a year or two?

GMAT: 720. I may be able to push this higher with dedicated study and practice. I’m looking to matriculate in 3 years.

Target Schools

Stretch: NYU, Duke, Darden,Ross

Sweet spot/Fall back: UNC, Emory, Georgetown, Texas @ Austin, Rice, Marshall

So:
- Is the MSc in Finance something I should pursue? My only interest in doing so would be if a) I’m very unlikely to gain admission to any of the schools listed above b) it would help my application
- Are the schools I have listed appropriate?

Thanks again, I look forward to getting your input


Those schools are definitely in range, and I think you can afford to be a bit more ambitious on your schools:

H/S/W: I think you have enough of an outside shot that it's at least worth applying to 1-2 of them. You never know.
Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, Haas: these are stretches but where you should be competitive; focus on 2-4 from this list.
Stern, Duke, Darden, Ross, UCLA, Cornell, Yale - these schools you have a reasonable shot at as sweet spots; maybe choose 1-2 from this list
Your safeties will be schools outside the top 16, such as Texas, USC, Tepper, UNC, Emory, Georgetown, Maryland, etc. Choose 0-1 from this list.

The reason why I say this is because you're a European with a lot of international experience coupled with the fact that you've got a solid professional background that is business-oriented, but not cookie cutter finance/consulting.

Finally, you should apply sooner than waiting a few more years. Especially in the US, the schools tend to be more age oriented than the European ones. Right now, you are in the sweet spot. Once you get past 30, it becomes more of an issue for full-time programs.

Here's what I suggest:

1. Don't do the MSc. It won't matter for b-school admissions (and can actually be a negative, because it is a related degree program and can give the impression of a "degree collector"). Furthermore, it's unlikely to do much for your professional career given the kind of experience you already have.

2. Build an alternate transcript by taking 1-2 courses through the UCLA online extension if you can. It's not critical if you can't or don't have time because you did your undergraduate abroad (adcoms are a bit more forgiving of undergrad grades from those who didn't go to US colleges, also because they tend to focus more on the GMAT scores and prestige of the undergrad college moreso than than the raw grades). Your GMAT is solid as it is, so I wouldn't retake it at this point.

3. You can afford to apply this year if you feel you're ready in your life to move on from your current career path. Or apply next year. But the next 1-2 years should be your window.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Apr 2013, 11:04
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kunzi wrote:
Hello Alex,

I'm in dire need of your blunt advice.

My Profile:

Nationality: Indian
GMAT: 700 (Q 49 V36)
GPA: 75% from a top 50 engineering school
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Work Experience: 7 years at Matriculation with a top Oil exploration and refining company (I worked only in downstream - refining)

4 Years: Mechanical Engineer - Maintenance. Lead a team of 6 technicians. Worked towards ensuring the reliability and availability of mech. equipment. Developed maintenance plans - Preventive and Predictive. Active involvement in Tendering and Contract Management.

2 Years: Senior Engineer - Maintenance and Projects. Leveraged the maintenance expertise to streamline and manage Revamp Project activities. Lead a team of over 40 technicians to complete shutdown activities well ahead of schedule. Job included planning, inter - department coordination and execution.

1 Year: Senior Engineer - Vigilance. Leveraged the technical and commercial expertise to bring systemic improvements across the organization. Focussed on areas that required system development or improvement and recommended changes to improve efficiency, transparency and effectiveness.

Leadership
• Elected Representative for Management Staff Association (Officer's association to liaison with the Management)
• Work profile full of leadership examples

Extra Curricular:
• Active Member of Toastmaster's Club
• Community Service through the CSR activities of my company - Organized blood donation camps, AIDS awareness campaigns etc.
• An active event organizer throughout my life - right from school till today. Was a member of Organizing Committee for Annual Tech. & Cultural fest at college. Active participation in organizing company events including handling venue, logistics, decor, liaison with speakers etc.

Future Plans:
Energy Consulting with a focus on sustainability.

Target Firms:
GE (internal consulting)
Bain
McKinsey

Backup Plan: Operations management in Energy industry. Target Firm: Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP.

Wish to apply to:

1. Tuck
2. Duke Fuqua
3. Darden
4. UCLA
5) Johnson
6) Emory
7) Mc Combs
8) Kelley
9) Ivey, Canada
10) Rotman

I wish to apply to the first 5 schools in R1. The others in subsequent rounds, in case R1 doesn't bear any fruits.

I am skeptical in the following areas:

1. Do I have the USP to get into the programs mentioned above, considering I don't take another shot at GMAT ?? Request you to highlight any apparent weaknesses in my profile.

2. Is my choice of schools ok ? What schools should I focus on. A list of schools reputed for placements in the energy sector (Consulting and Operations).

I wish to clarify here that I took GMAT in 2011 and had applied to Ivey and Rotman in Canada. I got rejected from both the schools after interview. But I must mention that I hadn't done any research about B-school applications and Interview and I had not portrayed my balanced profile through the essays and specially during the interviews.

This year, I hope to put in the best possible application package through thorough research and introspection.

Look forward to your response.
Thank You.

Best Regards,
KUNAL


You're targeting the right range of schools. The first 5 on your list are stretches, but where you have enough of a chance that it's at least worth applying. Biggest hurdle for you is getting the adcom to see you as an individual in a sea of Indian male applicants who have very similar profiles as you (yes, you're not IT or tech, but you're still an engineer with a pretty standard issue profile: you are in a technical position with some team responsibility, and your extracurriculars are pretty standard issue as well i.e. Toastmasters). Again, the biggest risk is blending in.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 26 Apr 2013, 05:12
AlexMBAApply wrote:
kunzi wrote:
Hello Alex,

I'm in dire need of your blunt advice.

My Profile:

Nationality: Indian
GMAT: 700 (Q 49 V36)
GPA: 75% from a top 50 engineering school
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Work Experience: 7 years at Matriculation with a top Oil exploration and refining company (I worked only in downstream - refining)

4 Years: Mechanical Engineer - Maintenance. Lead a team of 6 technicians. Worked towards ensuring the reliability and availability of mech. equipment. Developed maintenance plans - Preventive and Predictive. Active involvement in Tendering and Contract Management.

2 Years: Senior Engineer - Maintenance and Projects. Leveraged the maintenance expertise to streamline and manage Revamp Project activities. Lead a team of over 40 technicians to complete shutdown activities well ahead of schedule. Job included planning, inter - department coordination and execution.

1 Year: Senior Engineer - Vigilance. Leveraged the technical and commercial expertise to bring systemic improvements across the organization. Focussed on areas that required system development or improvement and recommended changes to improve efficiency, transparency and effectiveness.

Leadership
• Elected Representative for Management Staff Association (Officer's association to liaison with the Management)
• Work profile full of leadership examples

Extra Curricular:
• Active Member of Toastmaster's Club
• Community Service through the CSR activities of my company - Organized blood donation camps, AIDS awareness campaigns etc.
• An active event organizer throughout my life - right from school till today. Was a member of Organizing Committee for Annual Tech. & Cultural fest at college. Active participation in organizing company events including handling venue, logistics, decor, liaison with speakers etc.

Future Plans:
Energy Consulting with a focus on sustainability.

Target Firms:
GE (internal consulting)
Bain
McKinsey

Backup Plan: Operations management in Energy industry. Target Firm: Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP.

Wish to apply to:

1. Tuck
2. Duke Fuqua
3. Darden
4. UCLA
5) Johnson
6) Emory
7) Mc Combs
8) Kelley
9) Ivey, Canada
10) Rotman

I wish to apply to the first 5 schools in R1. The others in subsequent rounds, in case R1 doesn't bear any fruits.

I am skeptical in the following areas:

1. Do I have the USP to get into the programs mentioned above, considering I don't take another shot at GMAT ?? Request you to highlight any apparent weaknesses in my profile.

2. Is my choice of schools ok ? What schools should I focus on. A list of schools reputed for placements in the energy sector (Consulting and Operations).

I wish to clarify here that I took GMAT in 2011 and had applied to Ivey and Rotman in Canada. I got rejected from both the schools after interview. But I must mention that I hadn't done any research about B-school applications and Interview and I had not portrayed my balanced profile through the essays and specially during the interviews.

This year, I hope to put in the best possible application package through thorough research and introspection.

Look forward to your response.
Thank You.

Best Regards,
KUNAL


You're targeting the right range of schools. The first 5 on your list are stretches, but where you have enough of a chance that it's at least worth applying. Biggest hurdle for you is getting the adcom to see you as an individual in a sea of Indian male applicants who have very similar profiles as you (yes, you're not IT or tech, but you're still an engineer with a pretty standard issue profile: you are in a technical position with some team responsibility, and your extracurriculars are pretty standard issue as well i.e. Toastmasters). Again, the biggest risk is blending in.


Thanx for the prompt reply Alex.

Regards,
KUNAL
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 27 Apr 2013, 21:25
Kunal, you may want to consider INSEAD as it is very strong in Consulting.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 01 May 2013, 15:41
AbhiJ wrote:
Kunal, you may want to consider INSEAD as it is very strong in Consulting.


INSEAD is a great school -- however, it's less than ideal for those who are looking to remain in North America. Given its location, the majority of the post-MBA job opportunities will be based in Europe.

Also, INSEAD gets a much larger chunk of consultants who are going back to their firms post-MBA, so the recruiting stats may be a bit misleading (not saying that it's not a good school if you're interested in consulting, but that a large chunk of those job numbers are those who are returning to their firms).
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 20 May 2013, 08:55
MEG JAY: WHY 30 IS NOT THE NEW 20

Interesting talk on what you should be doing in your 20s:

http://www.ted.com/talks/meg_jay_why_30 ... ew_20.html

I don't agree with everything she says, and it may cause more undue stress for some of you!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply   [#permalink] 20 May 2013, 08:55
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