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Let's Be Real!

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Intern
Intern
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Joined: 01 Aug 2014
Posts: 3

Kudos [?]: [0], given: 1

GPA: 3.98
WE: Securities Sales and Trading (Mutual Funds and Brokerage)
Let's Be Real! [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2014, 11:52
Hey guys,

Harvard has always been a dream school of mine, but I am a realist at heart and know how difficult it is to get accepted.

I'm not going to sugar-coat anything. I know I am not necessarily qualified with my current credentials, but my question today is whether it is even worth it to consider applying to Harvard. To be more explicit, I am ultimately trying to determine whether my lack of work experience will hinder my application to the point that, regardless of a stellar GPA, GMAT, extra cirrics etc., I will have no chance of getting in.

First off, I have already looked into Harvard's 2+2 program, and I do not qualify as I have had my undergrad degree since December 2012.

SO . . . I will start off by saying that I went to a no-name, private, catholic university (University of the Incarnate Word). I graduated in Dec. 2012 with my BBA in Financial Economics. I started working at a friend's IT firm for a couple months before finding a job with Fidelity Investments as a financial representative/stock broker. I have been working there since July of 2013, and this is where my concern stems. My undergrad GPA is a 3.98, but I know coming from a no-name school will necessitate a high GMAT to prove myself, and I am currently studying for the GMAT. I have gone through a diagnostic exam, been through the OG once, and I have just finished reviewing all the Manhattan Study Guides for Quant. I should be able to score in the 700s if I keep it up.

REGARDLESS, I know that a high GMAT and GPA are just two prerequisites to get into HBS, and they have a very large pool to choose from. My primary question, once again, is do I even stand a chance with only having experience in financial services for 13 months to date (25 by the time I enter)? Second, if there is a possibility of getting accepted (I know it's a small one, if any) how do I state the amount of work experience I have on an application? I want to increase my chances as much as possible, but will they be asking for my work experience upon entering Harvard OR my current work experience as of applying?

Obvious Question #1: Why do I want to get into Harvard Class of 2017 as opposed to waiting until I have more work experience?
Simply put, while some of the older generation might not realize it yet, the dynamics and qualifications of competitive positions in finance are intensifying. The Millennial Generation is the most educated generation in American history, albeit a bit more entitled as well (which is completely natural IMO, considering societal progression). The MBA/CFA/CFP, depending on which area of finance you would like to get into, is becoming a prerequisite, even in entry-level positions. For example, I have just applied to become an associate financial analyst with Fidelity (entry-level) and will be competing for spots against multiple individuals who already have their MBA. I do not have any fancy internship experience, nor do I have great connections, and I haven't been working for very long. Getting companies to even look at my resume is difficult because I didn't come from a top name b-school and have little work experience. I know I have potential to do big things in my industry, but I am having trouble getting my foot in the door

Obvious Question #2: What distinguishes you from the tons of other candidates with stellar GPAs/GMATs who also have more work experience?
A couple thinks make me unique:
1. I am a gay man working in finance (obviously I cannot rely on this to get accepted, but I can definitely mention it as a diversity factor if I play it right and tastefully).
2. I played Pokemon Trading Card Game (TCG) competitively since I was a child and won multiple competitions, including 4th place at the national championships with over 1000 competitors and have won scholarships and awards because of this. I can point to how Pokemon has shaped my analytical mindset because it is a strategy game at heart and requires, at least on a more advanced level of play, a keen understanding probability, combinations, and manipulation of arithmetic/numbers. I still play TCGs to this day as a hobby.
3. I am half Mexcian-American and grew up in San Antonio (over 65% hispanic population), mom is Mexican, dad is white, and I can talk about the diversity of communities and the stark contrast to Dallas' culture (where I currently live). :arrow:

Sorry for the long post, but to summarize:
1. Do I stand a chance with 14 current months work experience/26 months upon entering, a 3.98 GPA from a no-name school (only reason I went to this school is because father worked there and it made the most economic sense), and above a 700 on GMAT? Please be candid because I know that the bare minimum is 2 years for Harvard.
2. How do I report my work experience when applying? Will they ask for work exp. upon applying or upon beginning school?
Keep in mind, this is all assuming I get above a 700 on my GMAT because I know with a lack of work experience that I will need at least this score.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading!

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MBA Blogger
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Joined: 09 Jul 2014
Posts: 4

Kudos [?]: 2 [1], given: 38

Concentration: Finance, Healthcare
GMAT Date: 08-09-2014
Re: Let's Be Real! [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2014, 18:19
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Kstcharl!

I am a young applicant (a little over 2 years of full time work experience) as well... living in Dallas and a URM... oh the similarities lol. Your concerns are very legitimate. I express them a lot myself on my blog. I'm not applying to a program as competitive as Harvard but yet and still, any Top 15 school is going to be difficult to get in with low years of WE.

To answer your questions, in my opinion and I'm by no means an expert...

1. The only way you don't stand a chance is if you never apply. Get that 700+ score on the GMAT, really focus on the quality not the quantity of your WE (any projects you've worked on, ownership you've taken in delivering a work product, how you work in teams, accomplishments), have some really great extra curricular activities and volunteer work to add to your profile, and be sure your Rec letters come from someone that can not only attest to your leadership potential but also has seen you grow within the company and into your role.
2. Your WE when applying to school should reflect the months up until the date you apply.

I think it's also important to realize just how much having a clear career goal and a path to get there will help your candidacy. Being able to connect the dots between your undergrad study, current job experience, choice of mba program and post mba career goal and industry, gives adcoms the confidence that even though you're on the younger side, you know exactly where you wanna go and how to get there and they just might give you the opportunity to show them!

Are you planning to apply in R2?

Kudos [?]: 2 [1], given: 38

Intern
Intern
User avatar
Joined: 01 May 2013
Posts: 21

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 12

Location: Singapore
Concentration: Technology
GMAT 1: 740 Q50 V39
GPA: 3.7
Let's Be Real! [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2014, 20:03
texaswannabecali wrote:
Kstcharl!

I am a young applicant (a little over 2 years of full time work experience) as well... living in Dallas and a URM... oh the similarities lol. Your concerns are very legitimate. I express them a lot myself on my blog. I'm not applying to a program as competitive as Harvard but yet and still, any Top 15 school is going to be difficult to get in with low years of WE.

To answer your questions, in my opinion and I'm by no means an expert...

1. The only way you don't stand a chance is if you never apply. Get that 700+ score on the GMAT, really focus on the quality not the quantity of your WE (any projects you've worked on, ownership you've taken in delivering a work product, how you work in teams, accomplishments), have some really great extra curricular activities and volunteer work to add to your profile, and be sure your Rec letters come from someone that can not only attest to your leadership potential but also has seen you grow within the company and into your role.
2. Your WE when applying to school should reflect the months up until the date you apply.

I think it's also important to realize just how much having a clear career goal and a path to get there will help your candidacy. Being able to connect the dots between your undergrad study, current job experience, choice of mba program and post mba career goal and industry, gives adcoms the confidence that even though you're on the younger side, you know exactly where you wanna go and how to get there and they just might give you the opportunity to show them!

Are you planning to apply in R2?


I agree with what texaswannabecali said here. Your chance to get into HBS is not 0% (or 100% either). The only way to know whether you can make it is to give it a try. Well, at least, you dare to do it.

What you can do now to improve your odd to get into HBS is to rock your GMAT, (continue) work and live well, build good relationship with your potential recommenders. If you fail this year, apply again next year. In the place I come from, there are guys who applied to university again, again and again, 5 times until they get it.

Btw, I am no expert in this but just want to add some of my 2-cents thoughts. Enjoy the results and enjoy the process as well, man.

Kudos [?]: 9 [0], given: 12

Manager
Manager
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Joined: 08 Jun 2014
Posts: 59

Kudos [?]: 13 [0], given: 1

Concentration: General Management, Operations
GMAT 1: 740 Q49 V41
GPA: 3.7
WE: Engineering (Aerospace and Defense)
Re: Let's Be Real! [#permalink]

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New post 17 Sep 2014, 09:18
Kstcharl,

I am going to play the devil's advocate here. Only because I recently saw a post about someone accepted at Kellogg who talked about his experience of applying for a MBA and it got me thinking. What really stood out from his post (I can't find the link right now), is keeping it real. He was saying that instead of focusing on H/S, spend all that energy on applying to other top schools and then use the same material to apply for reach schools.

Honestly, I think HBS is a reach. A high GMAT and GPA are great starts, but you have to keep in mind that there are people with similar stats that come from that prestigious under-grad with the jobs that you want out of under-grad. I've talked to alumni, consultants as well as prospective students, but "having a hard time getting the foot in the door," simply doesn't cut it. If you are so good, why didn't you get that prestigious job out of college?

In effect, what I am getting *based on what you wrote*, is that you want an MBA so you can get companies to look at your resume. Which is fine, but it's not going to work for HBS. I am sure there are some outliers out there who didn't have that prestigious job who got in, but you can't make career decisions based on exceptions.

So apply, but I would spend the majority of your time on other schools.

I will try to find that post. It was really informative and kept things in perspective.

Kudos [?]: 13 [0], given: 1

Current Student
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Joined: 19 Jan 2015
Posts: 56

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 0

Location: United States
Concentration: Nonprofit, Strategy
GMAT 1: 770 Q49 V46
GPA: 3.96
WE: Consulting (Non-Profit and Government)
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Re: Let's Be Real! [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2016, 01:45
As a current HBS student I will give you the following perspective. In my experience, HBS has a few different people, one group (which is the vast, vast majority) come from elite schools (not necessarily Ivy but pretty close) and had great grades and prestigious employers. This is most students. Those who didn't have these things generally had something truly remarkable about their profile (was a top-tier athlete, created a startup in Africa, founded a nonprofit, worked in an exotic place doing really unique work, etc). I can't really point to anyone who "couldn't get their foot in the door." The people who got in are the ones that found a way to get their foot in the door. This isn't meant to be doom and gloom, just a dose of reality. This doesn't mean anything prohibitively negative. HBS isn't the end of the world. The same opportunities are available at any top 15 school, they may just be slightly harder. Best advice would be either adjust expectations, find a way to get your foot in the door, find a way to do something memorable and unique that will jump off the page, and/or crush the gmat (750+). With that being said, it's only a few bucks. Send out the application and see what happens.

Kudos [?]: 18 [0], given: 0

Re: Let's Be Real!   [#permalink] 30 Jan 2016, 01:45
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