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Non-conventional profile eval please

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Joined: 09 Feb 2009
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Non-conventional profile eval please [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2009, 02:41
Hi Alex,

I was wondering if you could please give me some advice regarding some MBA programs I'm interested in before I go through the whole application process this year or the next. I appreciate you might be busy and not in the habit of giving free advice on this contact page so excuse me if that's the case.

Basically I'm in a weird position - my academic/career history is a bit jumbled up so I'll try and make a general outline of the past 6 years: (I'm 26)

age 18-22 :

age 22-24 :

age 22-27 :

age 25-26 :

Now that's a bit confusing right? :) basically I want to get into the business side of things now after my internship - make some money and hopefully start up my own business 4-5 years down the line. I would love to get an MBA from an American school and I need some advice about this:

GMAT: I am very confident I can get 700+ (tried a few practice tests)

On graduating next year, should I
a) take a tech role at Goldman Sachs, given I get offered one after my internship
b) try to get into Consulting on a grad scheme

My intentions are to spend 1 year doing this and apply to an MBA program which I'll join after my 2nd year of being an analyst - Do you think I have any chances of getting into top US schools with that background? I understand its a bit of a non-conventional bground for B-Schools but I was hoping that having studied and worked in 2 different countries, and knowing 4 languages might give me a chance. I also play football (soccer) competitvely.

My work experience seems to be my weakness but I will be 28/29 when I apply and I don't want to wait too long. I'm very eager to make up for the time I spent studying 2 differnt degrees to make some inroads in my career and I know an MBA will let me achieve that.

If you managed to get to here I can only congratulate you! :) I've rambled on more than I wanted to.. Please let me know if you could give me any tips/feedback on my potential to apply in 1-2 yrs time and how this would be viewed by the schools.

Thanks in advance for your time

Andrew

Last edited by jacket882 on 27 Mar 2009, 01:37, edited 1 time in total.

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MBA Admissions Consultant
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Re: Non-conventional profile eval please [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2009, 16:15
Here's the underlying issue that you'll have a hard time getting around.

You've spent 8 years doing two undergraduate degrees. For someone your age, you have significantly less work experience than people your own age. Also, while it's a good thing that you've lived in different countries and speak multiple languages - it's not really unique as a significant chunk of the applicant pool can say the same thing (basically anyone who isn't American has more than likely worked/lived in different countries, and can speak multiple languages - whether they speak 3 or 5 isn't really that huge a deal in b-school land).

My suggestion is this. No matter what it is you want to do, you need to stay in the workforce. Get work experience. Credentials matter more the younger you are, but as you get into your 30s and beyond, it's experience that matters far more. At this point in your life you shouldn't be focusing on getting yet another degree. You should be maxxing out on work experience. You have some catching up to do in that department. Focus on working for at least a couple years, and maybe in 2-3 years start working on a part-time or executive MBA which will allow you to work and study at the same time. It doesn't really matter which job you take (take the one you feel you'll enjoy more, or the one where you think you'll learn the most).

In your situation, that's how you'll make real inroads in your career. Work. While I think a lot of business professionals couldn't manage a bar and would underestimate how hard it is to start and manage a small business, the fact is a lot of business professionals and adcoms will discount that experience even if discounting it is unjustified.

I know this isn't what you may have wanted to hear, but to be honest whether you have an MBA or not the biggest hurdle you face is the lack of work experience. Remember that MBA recruiters don't look at your MBA as the sole reason why they're hiring you. Even if you are switching careers, they really value people who have put in some years of full-time work experience. 1-2 years (plus 1.5 years managing/owning a bar) puts you in the "underexperienced" category, and given that you will have 2 undergraduate degrees on your resume in addition to your MBA, recruiters will be hesitant to hire you.

Again, focus on getting solid work experience, and take a more serious look a few years down the road in getting a part-time or executive MBA.
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Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

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Joined: 09 Feb 2009
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Re: Non-conventional profile eval please [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2009, 18:08
Thanks Alex.. very honest answer that reflects my exact thoughts.. I think I was just hoping that my 1yr 3 months internships might have been considered as work experience but I realise they're not

My 1st degree was a mistake and I feel like I've completely wasted 4 years in terms of career progression although I've gained a lot of personal skills from the experience..

At this point do you think I should not go back to finish my degree and gain a year's experience or is it worth it to finish off a degree at a good UK uni with a 1st class? I'm undecided about that - considering I think I might be able to get a decent job somewhere (although not a big name company) - I feel like I'm wasting 10months to get the degree but at this point it seems like a waste if I don't

gah :(

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Re: Non-conventional profile eval please [#permalink]

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New post 25 Mar 2009, 19:34
What's past is past - it's not "wasted years" if you learned something valuable from it, whether it's life lessons or otherwise.

Anyhow, given that you're so close to graduation, you might as well finish it -- otherwise it will raise more questions than anything (i.e. "you decided to drop out in your last year just before graduation just so you can get a job earlier? Why not finish it out?" and if your response is "well, I wasn't really into it" it begs the question "then why did it take you 3 years to figure that out, especially since you already have another undergrad degree which seems like also something you weren't into, otherwise you'd be a physiotherapist and not an IT guy").

Just finish it out, and then focus on working full-time.

Again, it's not like you're "old" or anything. It's just that given the path you've taken to date, it would be wiser to finish out your degree, get a full-time job and work for a few years -- and then should you decide to go back to school it may make more sense to do it part-time or an exec MBA rather than spending yet another 2 years out of the work force to study full-time.
_________________

Alex Chu
alex@mbaapply.com
http://www.mbaapply.com

Kudos [?]: 566 [0], given: 0

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Joined: 09 Feb 2009
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Re: Non-conventional profile eval please [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2009, 04:34
thanks Alex, amazingly insightful - I really appreciate your level headidness in advising people

If I may be so clingy, I'd like to share a doubt I have regarding my situation..

As you have already said, 26 year olds usually have 3-5 years of work experience and they apply at around this age for an MBA.

I was thinking of applying when I am 29 and at matriculation I would have:
- 1.5 years full time entrepreneurial experience (I know you have doubts about this but I would argue against.. in another post :) )
- 2 years of consulting experience [analyst]
- 2-3 years of part time entrepreneurial experience (started something 3 months ago and it has good potential to grow over the next year)
- 1 year and a few months of internship experience and 2 of the biggest names around

Now, when you compare that with the conventional applicant - 26 years with 4 years FT WE or 29 years with 6-7 years FT WE, on paper it looks less strong, but I believe that I can meld the experiences well together in my essays and I will have strong academic credentials (GMAT 700+ and high GPA)

At this point you might be asking - why do you want to go to b-school? Unsurprisingly, I do not want to go because of a set career plan that I have had since I was 21 (duh! :) ) but I want to be there for the people I meet, the achievement of making it a top school (this is important for me and I accept that it might not be for others), the experience of learning with diverse and smart people, the network I would develop that will last for the next 10years+, the possibility of "catching up" since an MBA at 31 is close to the norm, and the opportunities of meeting similar minded people and possibly starting something with them at b-school or some time afterwards.

If we set apart the discussion on whether it is useful or not for my "career" (I admit that you are right about all the points you raised but I can always re-evaluate in a year or so when I apply), do you think b-schools can look beyond their 'expected' 29yr old candidate and see some potential in that personal history or will they just throw the app in the bin with a long sigh / giggle? :) I just find it hard to understand how a couple of decisions early in life can rule you out of the running.. if you are advising me against applying because of career motives, than I understand completely and we can stop discussing this right now :)

thanks again for all your help, you've been really helpful and I'll definitely recommend you to some of my friends who are thinking of applying!

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Re: Non-conventional profile eval please   [#permalink] 26 Mar 2009, 04:34
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