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Ask Alex @ MBA Apply

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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2013, 22:45
Well in that case, you could say that I'm from underrepresented region(Pakistan) and I've mentioned before that I've played cricket on international level and represented Oxford Brookes University in more than 3 matches. As far as I know and have been told by HBS guru, Pakistani applicants are in advantage when it comes to admissions at top 10.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 19 Nov 2013, 23:01
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salmanqsm4 wrote:
Well in that case, you could say that I'm from underrepresented region(Pakistan) and I've mentioned before that I've played cricket on international level and represented Oxford Brookes University in more than 3 matches. As far as I know and have been told by HBS guru, Pakistani applicants are in advantage when it comes to admissions at top 10.


Rather than spending energy convincing me, what I suggest is to focus on the applications. Success is the best revenge, and I've been proven wrong before. Good luck!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2013, 09:51
AlexMBAApply wrote:
mahika wrote:
Hey Alex,

I have been exploring your website for the past few days and I am intrigued by some of the points you have made. I have a few questions for you and looking to see if your services would benefit me.

I would like be admitted to the class of the 2017 so I am starting to gather my application materials for next year.

I went to a top 10 public ivy and have a degree in Biology with a minor in Business and Community Health. I was pre-med but did a complete 180 junior year when I realized healthcare wasn't for me. My GPA ended up being not so great, it is a 3.01, for several reasons. I was very actively involved throughout college where I held leadership positions as well as coveted part time roles within the University.

I was recruited to be part of a rotational leadership program for an industry leader in transportation and logistics after graduating. I was there for 2+ years in supply chain/operational capacity. I realized the transportation industry is not for me, and also that I wanted to get into more strategic work. So currently I am a strategy and market pricing analyst for fortune 50 pharmacy retail company for the past few months.

I have taken the GRE and scored a 1390 but I am sure I can improve that score and potentially also take the GMAT.

While I was reading your blog, you emphasized taking extension courses if anyone's GPA was below a 3.1, which mine is. I would like to emphasize that most of my grades in business courses in Undergrad were A's or B's for the most part except finance where I got a C+ but had an A+ in statistics and Computing, and A's and B's in Organizational Behavior, Accounting, Marketing and so on.

I was thinking of taking a couple courses at the HEC(Harvard Extension School) potentially in Finance and Economics since I got a lower grade in those subjects and they would show my quantitative skills. Or would it be acceptable for me to take them a local community college/local university as well? Or should I be taking any courses at all?

I don't have hard core quantitative coursework in college because I took numerous AP exams in high school (calculus, chemistry...) so I had no need to take those in college.

I just wanted quick advice on what can I do to better my general chances of admission in the top 16, ideally Columbia/Stern/Wharton/HBS (which is a dream)

In terms of my career goals, I have a dichotomy between wanting to get into management consulting and/or brand management/marketing in the luxury goods market in NYC, which is at the forefront for both fields. Stern would be a great choice since they have a specialization in luxury goods as well as Columbia since it is in the hub of both the industries I am interested in.
I would love any feedback you have.


Two things to focus on:

1. Crush the GMAT or GRE -- doesn't matter which one you take. Just make sure you get strong score. For the schools you're targeting, you need a 700+ GMAT or else your chances are likely to be slim. Make this your mission between now and next year.

2. Take a few extension classes. 2-3 is fine (no need for more than that). Doesn't have to be at Harvard - there is no prestige factor in these kinds of things. Taking it at your local community college is fine. 100-level (freshman/intro level) classes is all you need: calculus, algebra, statistics, microeconomics, finance, etc. Whichever you find the least boring (if that is possible haha).

These two things (GMAT and extension classes) aren't the most exciting thing in the world and frankly incredibly tedious for just about anyone - but it's essential. Good luck


Hey Alex,

Thanks for the feedback! You would say it is imperative I take extension courses even if I absolutely crush the GMAT/GRE. I just want clarification on that because if taking coursework is that important, I want to start right away and crush those courses too. Also, would taking courses on Coursera or MOOC courses work which give you a grade at the end? Some also provide a certificate. These courses are often from well reputed schools and have the same rigorous criteria. What do you think of that?

Secondly, you think I would have decent chance at my target schools: Stern/Columbia/Wharton? after getting a 740+ GMAT and taking quant coursework? I am also of south Asian origin but grew up in Chicago. I hope that doesn't lessen my chances but I guess being a female should help just a tiny bit :P

Thanks again.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Nov 2013, 14:05
mahika wrote:
Hey Alex,

Thanks for the feedback! You would say it is imperative I take extension courses even if I absolutely crush the GMAT/GRE. I just want clarification on that because if taking coursework is that important, I want to start right away and crush those courses too. Also, would taking courses on Coursera or MOOC courses work which give you a grade at the end? Some also provide a certificate. These courses are often from well reputed schools and have the same rigorous criteria. What do you think of that?

Secondly, you think I would have decent chance at my target schools: Stern/Columbia/Wharton? after getting a 740+ GMAT and taking quant coursework? I am also of south Asian origin but grew up in Chicago. I hope that doesn't lessen my chances but I guess being a female should help just a tiny bit :P

Thanks again.


In your case, you should do both since they are not interchangable - score well on the GMAT/GRE, and take a few extension classes at your local community college or online (UCLA offers online classes for example).

As for your chances, again, focus on these two things first before getting ahead of yourself. Don't assume a test score before you've taken it. Good luck
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2014, 12:59
Hello Alex
I am the guy who emailed you earlier today. I am 29, British but Indian ethnicity. So, here it goes:

Education
BEng Aircraft Engineering from mid tier UK University (GPA 3.5)
Msc Management from mid tier UK University (GPA 3.8)
Recently took a Harvard extension class (A+)

Work Experience (8 yrs)
Founder at an ecommerce company (verifiable mid six figure turnover) – 2 yrs
Co-founded Saas app, got a few hundred users but didn’t work for various reasons – 1 yr (good learning experience)
Various aeronautical design engineer positions – 5 yrs

Extra curricular
Director and board member at my city’s credit union (currently on a sub-committee working on a merger with another credit union)
VP at my city’s toastmasters group

GMAT
Took it twice 4 yrs ago, scored 610 and 630.
Re-taking at the end of Jan with a target of 700+
Mocks this time have been ranging from 650 - 680

Post MBA Target
I just want to learn, I don’t know how much I should define it.
I am not dying to get into IB or consulting, I do not need a job.
I just want to be on campus, share ideas, learn, I do not know everything and doing it all on my own will take a lifetime.
Want to learn from other entrepreneurs and join an eco-system.
I feel this is a very casual answer and probably wont go down that well.

Target Schools
Stretch: Harvard
Sweet spot: INSEAD, London Business School
Safety: Cambridge, Oxford

I like your honest replies in this forum. Hit me with it please :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 20 Jan 2014, 15:06
sslondon wrote:
Hello Alex
I am the guy who emailed you earlier today. I am 29, British but Indian ethnicity. So, here it goes:

Education
BEng Aircraft Engineering from mid tier UK University (GPA 3.5)
Msc Management from mid tier UK University (GPA 3.8)
Recently took a Harvard extension class (A+)

Work Experience (8 yrs)
Founder at an ecommerce company (verifiable mid six figure turnover) – 2 yrs
Co-founded Saas app, got a few hundred users but didn’t work for various reasons – 1 yr (good learning experience)
Various aeronautical design engineer positions – 5 yrs

Extra curricular
Director and board member at my city’s credit union (currently on a sub-committee working on a merger with another credit union)
VP at my city’s toastmasters group

GMAT
Took it twice 4 yrs ago, scored 610 and 630.
Re-taking at the end of Jan with a target of 700+
Mocks this time have been ranging from 650 - 680

Post MBA Target
I just want to learn, I don’t know how much I should define it.
I am not dying to get into IB or consulting, I do not need a job.
I just want to be on campus, share ideas, learn, I do not know everything and doing it all on my own will take a lifetime.
Want to learn from other entrepreneurs and join an eco-system.
I feel this is a very casual answer and probably wont go down that well.

Target Schools
Stretch: Harvard
Sweet spot: INSEAD, London Business School
Safety: Cambridge, Oxford

I like your honest replies in this forum. Hit me with it please :)


To be honest, in your case, if you simply want to learn more about business (at least some of the academic theory) -- just take some extension classes locally, or even a part-time/exec program (since you've got enough experience for exec MBAs) so you don't have to quit your day job. If you're that casual about it and not looking to jump into consulting or banking, then it probably makes most sense financially as well to just go part-time locally.

Beyond that, if you're looking to get into some of the stronger MBA programs, you need a higher GMAT -- ideally a 700+ to be safe.

Good luck
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 21 Jan 2014, 07:06
Thanks for your reply Alex. I have a few follow up points / clarifications:

Clarification - One of the reasons for my interest in a full time MBA is the on campus learning environment and the alumni network. I feel the relationships ill build on campus will help in any new businesses i might start in the future. It might also open doors to mentors, angel investors etc. Hence the decision to do it full time.

Query - So considering the above, my question is, based on your experience, do you feel Harvard would consider me as a potential candidate?
(I have browsed through a number of current and recent Harvard MBA profiles on Linkedin, all of them appear to be Ivy league undergrads and/or ones who have worked at big consulting / investment companies)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 27 Jan 2014, 09:55
sslondon wrote:
Thanks for your reply Alex. I have a few follow up points / clarifications:

Clarification - One of the reasons for my interest in a full time MBA is the on campus learning environment and the alumni network. I feel the relationships ill build on campus will help in any new businesses i might start in the future. It might also open doors to mentors, angel investors etc. Hence the decision to do it full time.

Query - So considering the above, my question is, based on your experience, do you feel Harvard would consider me as a potential candidate?
(I have browsed through a number of current and recent Harvard MBA profiles on Linkedin, all of them appear to be Ivy league undergrads and/or ones who have worked at big consulting / investment companies)


If you haven't already, go and visit a few b-schools while class is in session (Sept - Apr), even if you're based in the UK - visit LBS, Oxford, Cambridge, etc or head down to INSEAD. You'll be able to experience for yourself and meet fellow MBA students. There isn't some lifelong secret club/network where you will be able to draw upon. Most of the value of b-school from a career standpoint is within the first 5 years in terms of recruiting and contacts. Beyond that, its value is more nostalgia and personal (i.e. your friends). B-schools are really good at marketing the idea of a "network" - but in reality it's still a university, and the dynamics of the alumni network are no different than any other college alumni network that you may already have (i.e. you keep in touch with a core group of friends where it's not about business/career at all and you would never sully such friendships with business, and then you have some acquaintances here and there but over time your work/industry network is going to be your core, not people you went to school with 10+ years before). Again, it's still an university network, not the mafia, gang or secret society.

As for HBS, don't think about that right now - without a 720+ GMAT, it's a non-starter to even think about it. If you're looking to target any top b-school, you need to focus on retaking the GMAT and on nothing else.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2014, 10:38
HI Alex,

A little bit about myself

I was born in Shanghai, China. Came to the USA age of 16.
Graduated UCLA 2009, Major in Business Economics, Minor in Accounting;
Major and Minor GPA 3.9; Overall GPA 3.7
Practice GMAT 710

Worked 3 years in Freight Forwarding, I was the Associate Sales Manager (managing 3 inside sales) when left the company
Currently working 1st year as a logistics specialist in a mid-size importer/distributor/manufacturing company. In charge of all international/domestic logistics for the company.
During Real Estate Foreclosure peak period, I took the opportunity and started Real Estate investing during my 4th year of undergraduate.
I currently hold 10 properties in my Portfolio providing great passive income for me.
My other passion is traveling, I just started my traveling blog this year to record my 3 countries/year goal.

My initial career goal was to focus on supply chain.
During 4 years of work experience, I grasped great knowledge and experiences from purchasing, to logistics, to operation, to inventory, to sales.
And then I realize there are other aspects in a business such as marketing, branding, business strategy, technology which I am really eager to learn.
I believe a top MBA program will definitely open up more opportunity for me. Maybe consulting or supply chain management.
I am looking to apply first round top 10 MBA school for Class 2017. UCLA should be a safe for me.
What's your advise regarding school choices? Should I try H/S/W?

Thanks
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2014, 15:22
MBA1115 wrote:
HI Alex,

A little bit about myself

I was born in Shanghai, China. Came to the USA age of 16.
Graduated UCLA 2009, Major in Business Economics, Minor in Accounting;
Major and Minor GPA 3.9; Overall GPA 3.7
Practice GMAT 710

Worked 3 years in Freight Forwarding, I was the Associate Sales Manager (managing 3 inside sales) when left the company
Currently working 1st year as a logistics specialist in a mid-size importer/distributor/manufacturing company. In charge of all international/domestic logistics for the company.
During Real Estate Foreclosure peak period, I took the opportunity and started Real Estate investing during my 4th year of undergraduate.
I currently hold 10 properties in my Portfolio providing great passive income for me.
My other passion is traveling, I just started my traveling blog this year to record my 3 countries/year goal.

My initial career goal was to focus on supply chain.
During 4 years of work experience, I grasped great knowledge and experiences from purchasing, to logistics, to operation, to inventory, to sales.
And then I realize there are other aspects in a business such as marketing, branding, business strategy, technology which I am really eager to learn.
I believe a top MBA program will definitely open up more opportunity for me. Maybe consulting or supply chain management.
I am looking to apply first round top 10 MBA school for Class 2017. UCLA should be a safe for me.
What's your advise regarding school choices? Should I try H/S/W?

Thanks


Given how competitive the top 16 schools are these days, there are no true "safe" schools within the top 16 for just about any applicant. More than enough folks of a similar caliber competing for limited seats.

With that said, I think you need to focus on the GMAT first and foremost more than anything else. I really don't like doing profile reviews for people who haven't done their GMAT yet because it makes a big assumption that you can actually get the 700+ GMAT that is effectively required for the top 16 schools - too many people go into it underestimating how difficult it can be, or they go into the exam expecting a certain score based on their practice scores, only to sh*t the bed on exam day. Never, ever, underestimate the exam - I'm not trying to scare you, but you have to respect it enough so that it should be your sole focus, and not trying to get ahead of yourself thinking about schools. If you give the exam the respect it deserves by not taking your scores for granted, you will put yourself in the best position to do the best you can on exam day - and only then should you focus more on what schools within the top 16 to focus on.

I'm sure you were hoping for me to tell you that you're competitive for the top 16 schools, but whether you are even in the conversation or not comes down to the GMAT as a first hurdle that you cannot overlook. Without a 700+, your chances are slim to none at any of the top 16 schools, especially as an Asian/Asian-American applicant. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, and you may still wonder "hypothecially if I get a 710 GMAT like I did in my practice exams, what schools will I be competitive for?" but then again that presumes a strong GMAT is a forgone conclusion, which it isn't for many people.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest you visita few schools before the end of April while class is in session. It doesn't matter if the schools you visit are the schools you end up applying to. What is more important is going to a sampling of the schools that are convenient for you to visit, so you get a feel for what these top b-schools are like, as well as give yourself some sense for the kinds of people that are at the top b-school. From there, you should have a better idea for what schools are a great fit for you that you can really target (and it may not always be the most prestigious or exclusive programs).

Good luck
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2014, 00:08
AlexMBAApply wrote:
MBA1115 wrote:
HI Alex,

A little bit about myself

I was born in Shanghai, China. Came to the USA age of 16.
Graduated UCLA 2009, Major in Business Economics, Minor in Accounting;
Major and Minor GPA 3.9; Overall GPA 3.7
Practice GMAT 710

Worked 3 years in Freight Forwarding, I was the Associate Sales Manager (managing 3 inside sales) when left the company
Currently working 1st year as a logistics specialist in a mid-size importer/distributor/manufacturing company. In charge of all international/domestic logistics for the company.
During Real Estate Foreclosure peak period, I took the opportunity and started Real Estate investing during my 4th year of undergraduate.
I currently hold 10 properties in my Portfolio providing great passive income for me.
My other passion is traveling, I just started my traveling blog this year to record my 3 countries/year goal.

My initial career goal was to focus on supply chain.
During 4 years of work experience, I grasped great knowledge and experiences from purchasing, to logistics, to operation, to inventory, to sales.
And then I realize there are other aspects in a business such as marketing, branding, business strategy, technology which I am really eager to learn.
I believe a top MBA program will definitely open up more opportunity for me. Maybe consulting or supply chain management.
I am looking to apply first round top 10 MBA school for Class 2017. UCLA should be a safe for me.
What's your advise regarding school choices? Should I try H/S/W?

Thanks


Given how competitive the top 16 schools are these days, there are no true "safe" schools within the top 16 for just about any applicant. More than enough folks of a similar caliber competing for limited seats.

With that said, I think you need to focus on the GMAT first and foremost more than anything else. I really don't like doing profile reviews for people who haven't done their GMAT yet because it makes a big assumption that you can actually get the 700+ GMAT that is effectively required for the top 16 schools - too many people go into it underestimating how difficult it can be, or they go into the exam expecting a certain score based on their practice scores, only to sh*t the bed on exam day. Never, ever, underestimate the exam - I'm not trying to scare you, but you have to respect it enough so that it should be your sole focus, and not trying to get ahead of yourself thinking about schools. If you give the exam the respect it deserves by not taking your scores for granted, you will put yourself in the best position to do the best you can on exam day - and only then should you focus more on what schools within the top 16 to focus on.

I'm sure you were hoping for me to tell you that you're competitive for the top 16 schools, but whether you are even in the conversation or not comes down to the GMAT as a first hurdle that you cannot overlook. Without a 700+, your chances are slim to none at any of the top 16 schools, especially as an Asian/Asian-American applicant. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, and you may still wonder "hypothetically if I get a 710 GMAT like I did in my practice exams, what schools will I be competitive for?" but then again that presumes a strong GMAT is a forgone conclusion, which it isn't for many people.

In the meantime, I strongly suggest you visit a few schools before the end of April while class is in session. It doesn't matter if the schools you visit are the schools you end up applying to. What is more important is going to a sampling of the schools that are convenient for you to visit, so you get a feel for what these top b-schools are like, as well as give yourself some sense for the kinds of people that are at the top b-school. From there, you should have a better idea for what schools are a great fit for you that you can really target (and it may not always be the most prestigious or exclusive programs).

Good luck


Thanks Alex, will focus on the GMAT right now and try to visit some schools by end of March or April.
and go from there
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2014, 01:00
Hi Alex,

I have got admit to 3 universities till now- ISB , Kelley (Indiana) and Krannert (Purdue).

My post MBA goal is to get into Operations consulting. I am targeting firms such as Deloitte.
The alternate career path is Operations manager at majors such as Amazon and Apple.

I am an Indian. Funding my education is a stressful situation. However, I am willing to incur debt for quality education. I am totally confused what to take up? I have no preference as to India or US.I want to graduate with a good job in hand.

Purdue is known for its operations strength and it has offered me substantial GA , basically can be considered a full ride.And a lot of companies recruit for operations profile. How ever if I end up wanting to do something other than operations...I might end up with no offer.

Kelley is highly ranked by most. It has not offered me a scholarship or a GA . It would set me back by 100000$ .
ISB is very highly rated in India but I am not really sure of the 1 year intense program and I am not particularly confident of their operations strength.

Yet to hear from Tepper.

Please advice on how I should go about choosing the college. :roll:

Thanks. The earlier I choose the more at peace I will be. It has been a long hard battle with admissions :x :x :x
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 06 Feb 2014, 21:49
Gonnaflynow wrote:
Hi Alex,

I have got admit to 3 universities till now- ISB , Kelley (Indiana) and Krannert (Purdue).

My post MBA goal is to get into Operations consulting. I am targeting firms such as Deloitte.
The alternate career path is Operations manager at majors such as Amazon and Apple.

I am an Indian. Funding my education is a stressful situation. However, I am willing to incur debt for quality education. I am totally confused what to take up? I have no preference as to India or US.I want to graduate with a good job in hand.

Purdue is known for its operations strength and it has offered me substantial GA , basically can be considered a full ride.And a lot of companies recruit for operations profile. How ever if I end up wanting to do something other than operations...I might end up with no offer.

Kelley is highly ranked by most. It has not offered me a scholarship or a GA . It would set me back by 100000$ .
ISB is very highly rated in India but I am not really sure of the 1 year intense program and I am not particularly confident of their operations strength.

Yet to hear from Tepper.

Please advice on how I should go about choosing the college. :roll:

Thanks. The earlier I choose the more at peace I will be. It has been a long hard battle with admissions :x :x :x


Congrats on your admits.

It really comes down to where you want to work post-MBA. If you're sure about living/working in India post-MBA, then go to ISB.

If you're looking to work in the US post-MBA, then focus on Purdue or Indiana, as it's going to be very hard to get a US-based job coming from a non-US school if you're not a US citizen or permanent resident. As for Purdue vs Indiana, they are essentially peer schools in terms of overall reputation (don't get too caught up in the rankings for schools in the same tier). Instead, if you can see yourself going to either school, then go to Purdue since it'll be a lot cheaper for you (and since you said that cost is a big consideration for you). Good luck
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 23 Feb 2014, 03:17
Hi Alex,

Looking for a bit of advice regarding the range of MBA programs I should be targeting (e.g. top 25, top 16, M7, etc.). I really appreciate your no-BS advice and was hoping for some guidance from you.

Basics
-25 years old, will be 26 in a couple of weeks
-3.48 cumulative / 3.83 major GPA from a small, private, non-target liberal arts college
-Majored in general business administration
-GMAT 740 (48q, 44v)
-Male URM

Work Experience
Currently an analyst at a regional commercial bank in the division that manages the bank's commercial real estate portfolio. Have been in this position for a little less than 3 years. The bank isn't a widely known name, but it is the biggest company (in terms of assets/revenue/net income) in the state and has a decently sized CRE portfolio ($574M) which includes the tallest building in the state. The division is small, so I've gotten a lot of good experience (including some leadership experience), but unfortunately no promotions. The job involves all different kinds of work, ranging from FP&A to tenant relations to property acquisition analyses to conducting research on the local market.

Prior to this job, I did some purchasing and accounting work for a small local telecommunications company for 7 months.

Extracurrics
-Varsity athlete (wrestling) for a year in undergrad and some undergrad club leadership experience
-Volunteer work for the past year and a half at a homeless shelter with a program assisting residents in obtaining employment (resume/cover letter help, budgeting, computer skills, etc.). Have been with the program since its inception, so a little bit of leadership xp there as well.
-Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past seven years (actually the reason why I quit wrestling was to pursue competitive BJJ more seriously)
-Recently passed CFA Level I exam, looking to pursue Level II in June

I recently applied to MIT's and Claremont McKenna's Masters in Finance programs (was accepted at Claremont, waiting on MIT). My thought process was that with my current non-target UG and non-selective work experience, my chances at top 16/M7 MBA programs wouldn't be very good. I thought a Masters in Finance program could either be an MBA substitute, or get me to a better position to apply to top MBA programs (although at my age/experience I'm starting to realize a MFin/MBA is an either/or decision). I thought I could do Now>MFin>Better Job>MBA, but I'm starting to think I may be too old to go down that path and still remain competitive for top MBA programs.

Post MFin/MBA looking to get into investment management, although I am very open to exploring other career paths.

Basically, just looking to see what range of MBA programs I could target with my current experience and weigh that against any potential post-MFin options. Sorry for the novel and thank you in advance for your input!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2014, 20:40
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HImba88 wrote:
Hi Alex,

Looking for a bit of advice regarding the range of MBA programs I should be targeting (e.g. top 25, top 16, M7, etc.). I really appreciate your no-BS advice and was hoping for some guidance from you.

Basics
-25 years old, will be 26 in a couple of weeks
-3.48 cumulative / 3.83 major GPA from a small, private, non-target liberal arts college
-Majored in general business administration
-GMAT 740 (48q, 44v)
-Male URM

Work Experience
Currently an analyst at a regional commercial bank in the division that manages the bank's commercial real estate portfolio. Have been in this position for a little less than 3 years. The bank isn't a widely known name, but it is the biggest company (in terms of assets/revenue/net income) in the state and has a decently sized CRE portfolio ($574M) which includes the tallest building in the state. The division is small, so I've gotten a lot of good experience (including some leadership experience), but unfortunately no promotions. The job involves all different kinds of work, ranging from FP&A to tenant relations to property acquisition analyses to conducting research on the local market.

Prior to this job, I did some purchasing and accounting work for a small local telecommunications company for 7 months.

Extracurrics
-Varsity athlete (wrestling) for a year in undergrad and some undergrad club leadership experience
-Volunteer work for the past year and a half at a homeless shelter with a program assisting residents in obtaining employment (resume/cover letter help, budgeting, computer skills, etc.). Have been with the program since its inception, so a little bit of leadership xp there as well.
-Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past seven years (actually the reason why I quit wrestling was to pursue competitive BJJ more seriously)
-Recently passed CFA Level I exam, looking to pursue Level II in June

I recently applied to MIT's and Claremont McKenna's Masters in Finance programs (was accepted at Claremont, waiting on MIT). My thought process was that with my current non-target UG and non-selective work experience, my chances at top 16/M7 MBA programs wouldn't be very good. I thought a Masters in Finance program could either be an MBA substitute, or get me to a better position to apply to top MBA programs (although at my age/experience I'm starting to realize a MFin/MBA is an either/or decision). I thought I could do Now>MFin>Better Job>MBA, but I'm starting to think I may be too old to go down that path and still remain competitive for top MBA programs.

Post MFin/MBA looking to get into investment management, although I am very open to exploring other career paths.

Basically, just looking to see what range of MBA programs I could target with my current experience and weigh that against any potential post-MFin options. Sorry for the novel and thank you in advance for your input!


If you're going to do an Masters in Finance, do it on its own merits, and not for the sake of MBA admissions, because it's not going to help.

In your case, if you're looking to stay in finance, especially on the buyside, you may want to look into finishing up the CFA exams and getting your designation, as what you learn through the CFA (as well as the accreditation itself) is going to be more directly relevant to what you'll be doing in investment management. And if you're looking more on the technical side (trading), then an Masters in Finance may be your better bet compared to a regular MBA.

Since you have time, you really should go and visit a few top MBA programs -- visiting campus, sitting in on class, and talking to students *off-the-record* (i.e. over coffee/beer) will give you the kind of insight into whether an MBA program suits your needs (and wallet) that no website can give. The reason why is because whether an MBA is worth it or not is highly individual - it really varies from one person to the next. For example, two people with very similar profiles may come up with entirely different decisions as to whether it's worth it or not. Furthermore, visiting a few schools while class is in session (before the end of April) will also give you a better idea of where you stand - because a lot of that comes down to how you *feel* you stack up and whether it's worth putting in the applications or not. Again, on the surface you seem competitive enough that it's worth applying to a range of top 8 (pick 1-2 schools), top 16 (pick 2-3) and top 30 (pick 0-1) schools, but whether it's worth it to you or not is something only you can answer for yourself.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2014, 00:43
AlexMBAApply wrote:
HImba88 wrote:
Hi Alex,

Looking for a bit of advice regarding the range of MBA programs I should be targeting (e.g. top 25, top 16, M7, etc.). I really appreciate your no-BS advice and was hoping for some guidance from you.

Basics
-25 years old, will be 26 in a couple of weeks
-3.48 cumulative / 3.83 major GPA from a small, private, non-target liberal arts college
-Majored in general business administration
-GMAT 740 (48q, 44v)
-Male URM

Work Experience
Currently an analyst at a regional commercial bank in the division that manages the bank's commercial real estate portfolio. Have been in this position for a little less than 3 years. The bank isn't a widely known name, but it is the biggest company (in terms of assets/revenue/net income) in the state and has a decently sized CRE portfolio ($574M) which includes the tallest building in the state. The division is small, so I've gotten a lot of good experience (including some leadership experience), but unfortunately no promotions. The job involves all different kinds of work, ranging from FP&A to tenant relations to property acquisition analyses to conducting research on the local market.

Prior to this job, I did some purchasing and accounting work for a small local telecommunications company for 7 months.

Extracurrics
-Varsity athlete (wrestling) for a year in undergrad and some undergrad club leadership experience
-Volunteer work for the past year and a half at a homeless shelter with a program assisting residents in obtaining employment (resume/cover letter help, budgeting, computer skills, etc.). Have been with the program since its inception, so a little bit of leadership xp there as well.
-Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the past seven years (actually the reason why I quit wrestling was to pursue competitive BJJ more seriously)
-Recently passed CFA Level I exam, looking to pursue Level II in June

I recently applied to MIT's and Claremont McKenna's Masters in Finance programs (was accepted at Claremont, waiting on MIT). My thought process was that with my current non-target UG and non-selective work experience, my chances at top 16/M7 MBA programs wouldn't be very good. I thought a Masters in Finance program could either be an MBA substitute, or get me to a better position to apply to top MBA programs (although at my age/experience I'm starting to realize a MFin/MBA is an either/or decision). I thought I could do Now>MFin>Better Job>MBA, but I'm starting to think I may be too old to go down that path and still remain competitive for top MBA programs.

Post MFin/MBA looking to get into investment management, although I am very open to exploring other career paths.

Basically, just looking to see what range of MBA programs I could target with my current experience and weigh that against any potential post-MFin options. Sorry for the novel and thank you in advance for your input!


If you're going to do an Masters in Finance, do it on its own merits, and not for the sake of MBA admissions, because it's not going to help.

In your case, if you're looking to stay in finance, especially on the buyside, you may want to look into finishing up the CFA exams and getting your designation, as what you learn through the CFA (as well as the accreditation itself) is going to be more directly relevant to what you'll be doing in investment management. And if you're looking more on the technical side (trading), then an Masters in Finance may be your better bet compared to a regular MBA.

Since you have time, you really should go and visit a few top MBA programs -- visiting campus, sitting in on class, and talking to students *off-the-record* (i.e. over coffee/beer) will give you the kind of insight into whether an MBA program suits your needs (and wallet) that no website can give. The reason why is because whether an MBA is worth it or not is highly individual - it really varies from one person to the next. For example, two people with very similar profiles may come up with entirely different decisions as to whether it's worth it or not. Furthermore, visiting a few schools while class is in session (before the end of April) will also give you a better idea of where you stand - because a lot of that comes down to how you *feel* you stack up and whether it's worth putting in the applications or not. Again, on the surface you seem competitive enough that it's worth applying to a range of top 8 (pick 1-2 schools), top 16 (pick 2-3) and top 30 (pick 0-1) schools, but whether it's worth it to you or not is something only you can answer for yourself.


Thank you for the advice Alex. I do realize that I need to a lot more research regarding which degree is the best route to take for me personally. I appreciate the ranges you provided for MBA programs. Since my experience is off of the beaten path, I have a hard time trying to judge the competitiveness of my profile.

I like the bit about visiting schools. It is definitely something that I will look into and save up for (I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean) when I need a quick vacation.

Anyway, thanks again for the tips. It definitely has given me a lot to think about.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2014, 14:44
Hi Alex... I appreciate your input in advance.

White male, will be 28 upon matriculation
GPA: 3.6, top-ish liberal arts school (Lehigh, Lafayette, Colgate)
GMAT: I've been testing at a 750, so let's assume that.
Work Experience: 1.5 years at regional boutique IB. Took a few months off between jobs to figure out next steps and spent the last 3 years in Corp. Dev. group at an S&P500, active industrial acquirer (think Danaher, Roper, etc.)

MBA Goal: I'd like to transition into general management; I don't have an engineering background so that prevents me from doing so at my current company. I'd like to move into sports or consumer products.
Targets: Sloan (really interested in the Sports Analytics Conference), Tuck, Kellogg, Darden, trying to identify others...
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2014, 00:14
HImba88 wrote:
Thank you for the advice Alex. I do realize that I need to a lot more research regarding which degree is the best route to take for me personally. I appreciate the ranges you provided for MBA programs. Since my experience is off of the beaten path, I have a hard time trying to judge the competitiveness of my profile.

I like the bit about visiting schools. It is definitely something that I will look into and save up for (I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean) when I need a quick vacation.

Anyway, thanks again for the tips. It definitely has given me a lot to think about.


... and yet there are folks hoping that an MBA and a bit of luck will lead them to retire on the very rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that you're trying to get out of. :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2014, 00:18
mr7183 wrote:
Hi Alex... I appreciate your input in advance.

White male, will be 28 upon matriculation
GPA: 3.6, top-ish liberal arts school (Lehigh, Lafayette, Colgate)
GMAT: I've been testing at a 750, so let's assume that.
Work Experience: 1.5 years at regional boutique IB. Took a few months off between jobs to figure out next steps and spent the last 3 years in Corp. Dev. group at an S&P500, active industrial acquirer (think Danaher, Roper, etc.)

MBA Goal: I'd like to transition into general management; I don't have an engineering background so that prevents me from doing so at my current company. I'd like to move into sports or consumer products.
Targets: Sloan (really interested in the Sports Analytics Conference), Tuck, Kellogg, Darden, trying to identify others...


Sounds like you're in range for the schools you're targeting: focus on 2-3 top 8 schools (Sloan, Tuck, Kellogg), and 2-3 top 16 schools (Darden, Duke, Ross are all solid schools for consumer products and sports, especially given that Duke and Ross have very strong NCAA programs). On the west coast, look at UCLA and Stanford (for some reason, they like white males with monster GMATs who are looking to for the path less taken i.e. sports, nonprofit, marketing, etc).
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 10 Mar 2014, 03:50
Hi Alex,

Please find my profile in brief.

Target: Finance.

- B Tech IIT (GPA 7/10)
- 6.5 years at Big 4 Advisory in Technology Consulting (Worked mostly in In House Systems and Domestic Consulting). Currently in Assistant Manger role.
- GMAT 710(Q50 V35), TOEFL 111.
- Age 30
- Passed CFA Level 1.
- Extra- curricular: Average

Have applied this year and have interview scheduled from schools in Top 20-40 range.

Assuming I get into any of these schools, would it make sense to re-write GMAT and get 750-770 range and apply coming Fall to schools in Top 15 namely: Columbia, Booth, NY Stern ?

As per my understanding for international applicants looking for a career change schools outside Top 10 are essentially the same.
Finance is practically impossible and Consulting is somewhat similar.
For example, would have similar career outcomes from UCLA, Cornell, Emory , Fisher.
All place students in Deloitte Consulting, Amazon etc.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply   [#permalink] 10 Mar 2014, 03:50
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