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Intern
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Joined: 29 Oct 2019
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New post 19 Nov 2019, 01:52
Hello!

Background:

Academic: GMAT 710 (Q51, V35), GPA:3.12, Top 4 university in China, Major in law

Work: 3+ years in a US Biglaw's China Office, M&A and PE lawyer focused on tech industry , clients include top tier PE&VC firms and start-ups, participated in several billion dollar transactions.

Nationality and gender: Chinese, male

Post MBA Career Goal: PE&VC deal team

Target School: Duke Fuqua, UCLA Anderson, Michigan Ross; will also try Kellogg and CBS (my partners are from Columbia Law, so they can write the recommendation letters for me)

I know both my GMAT and GPA are not competitive among Asian applicants (especially Chinese), but I am not sure if my legal background might help in the application as it is relatively rare for a lawyer to apply for a MBA, and there are rumors that B-School would like to diversify the class profile. However, the business schools' admission pool for lawyers is really small. It would be highly appreciated if you could give some advice.
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New post 19 Nov 2019, 05:52
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Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out! First of all, congratulations on your accomplishments to date--you have a really interesting background and I think your instincts are spot on in terms of what will help you stand out and what might hold you back in the admissions process.

Diving right in, the good is that you have some pretty unique experience working on these types of large, impactful deals from the legal side of things. The trick will be positioning that experience so it's clear that you weren't just professional support services, but were a strategic thinker and true thought partner for the clients you worked with. Leadership potential and business acumen is what it's all about here! Pulling out the right stories and backing them up with solid letters of recommendation should help. You're absolutely right that schools want to create a diverse class--different perspectives create higher quality classroom discussions, study groups, clubs, etc. If you can position your background in a way that's appealing to ad com, you'll have an advantage here.

The challenge, as you noted, is that coming from an over-represented background always adds a layer of complexity. While a 710 is a score you should be proud of, over the years we've seen the averages at the top tier creep up to around the 730s. If you think you left something on the table and can take it again, great, but if not then we can work with what we've got! The good news is that GPA is somewhat less important now that you've had years in the "real world" to prove your potential--and between your high quant score and work in the legal field there is no doubt you can handle MBA-level coursework.

The road to VC/PE can be a tricky one to follow--there are always more students who want to pursue this path than there are spots for them at the top firms. Of course ad coms won't admit anyone they think will not be successful in recruiting, so the trick here will be positioning yourself to prove that you will be one of the successful students in landing one of the coveted spots. Do you have strong connections from your work experience that will help here? Do you have unique knowledge--or a very specific, in-demand industry of focus--from working on these deals that would be valuable to a firm? Convince them that you're going to be one of the students who leave school with an offer in hand, and think about a back-up plan that would be good to have in your back pocket. It also would be worthwhile to spend some time doing a little soul searching and getting more specific on what your goal is--while it's all investing in private companies, the difference between, say, an early-stage seed VC fund and a later-stage growth equity PE firm can mean the day-to-day looks way different. The more specific you can get about the type of work you want to do, the industry focus, etc. the more it will show that you've really thought this through (and the easier it will be for alums, fellow classmates, etc. to hook you up with the right people to get you there!).

All in all you're thinking about things in the right way--it's just a matter of crafting the right overall narrative to get you there. I like the schools on your list, but I'd encourage you to consider schools in cities where there are strong networks of local VC/PEs that you could tap into for internships, networking, and (ultimately) jobs. Stern, UNC, and UT Austin all might help set you up for the kind of post-MBA role you're looking for if you can be flexible on geography.

I hope that helps and feel free to reach out directly to us if you have more questions!
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New post 19 Nov 2019, 22:25
I am a Lawyer too, that was an interesting response.
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New post 21 Nov 2019, 00:45
Thank you so much Jon, your response is really helpful. Unfortunately it might be too late for me to take another attempt on GMAT, so I will just leave with that and focus on the application materials. Is Stern a huge reach for me? Some of my friends asked me to try INSEAD as well since INSEAD applicants are less competitive in terms of background and INSEAD also has a great brand name in the market. Do you have any advice on INSEAD?



Admissionado wrote:
Hi there,

Thanks for reaching out! First of all, congratulations on your accomplishments to date--you have a really interesting background and I think your instincts are spot on in terms of what will help you stand out and what might hold you back in the admissions process.

Diving right in, the good is that you have some pretty unique experience working on these types of large, impactful deals from the legal side of things. The trick will be positioning that experience so it's clear that you weren't just professional support services, but were a strategic thinker and true thought partner for the clients you worked with. Leadership potential and business acumen is what it's all about here! Pulling out the right stories and backing them up with solid letters of recommendation should help. You're absolutely right that schools want to create a diverse class--different perspectives create higher quality classroom discussions, study groups, clubs, etc. If you can position your background in a way that's appealing to ad com, you'll have an advantage here.

The challenge, as you noted, is that coming from an over-represented background always adds a layer of complexity. While a 710 is a score you should be proud of, over the years we've seen the averages at the top tier creep up to around the 730s. If you think you left something on the table and can take it again, great, but if not then we can work with what we've got! The good news is that GPA is somewhat less important now that you've had years in the "real world" to prove your potential--and between your high quant score and work in the legal field there is no doubt you can handle MBA-level coursework.

The road to VC/PE can be a tricky one to follow--there are always more students who want to pursue this path than there are spots for them at the top firms. Of course ad coms won't admit anyone they think will not be successful in recruiting, so the trick here will be positioning yourself to prove that you will be one of the successful students in landing one of the coveted spots. Do you have strong connections from your work experience that will help here? Do you have unique knowledge--or a very specific, in-demand industry of focus--from working on these deals that would be valuable to a firm? Convince them that you're going to be one of the students who leave school with an offer in hand, and think about a back-up plan that would be good to have in your back pocket. It also would be worthwhile to spend some time doing a little soul searching and getting more specific on what your goal is--while it's all investing in private companies, the difference between, say, an early-stage seed VC fund and a later-stage growth equity PE firm can mean the day-to-day looks way different. The more specific you can get about the type of work you want to do, the industry focus, etc. the more it will show that you've really thought this through (and the easier it will be for alums, fellow classmates, etc. to hook you up with the right people to get you there!).

All in all you're thinking about things in the right way--it's just a matter of crafting the right overall narrative to get you there. I like the schools on your list, but I'd encourage you to consider schools in cities where there are strong networks of local VC/PEs that you could tap into for internships, networking, and (ultimately) jobs. Stern, UNC, and UT Austin all might help set you up for the kind of post-MBA role you're looking for if you can be flexible on geography.

I hope that helps and feel free to reach out directly to us if you have more questions!
Admissionado
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Joined: 30 Nov 2009
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New post 23 Nov 2019, 08:19
Hi again!

I'm glad you found my response helpful! INSEAD does indeed have a strong global reputation. I would say that if your post-MBA career goal is clearly to work in the US, then an American MBA program would be a better choice, as many American employers are less familiar with INSEAD. However, if you see yourself working in Asia or Europe after graduating from business school, then INSEAD could be a great choice. Given your profile, I'd say that Stern is less of a reach than Kellogg or CBS, but in a similar competitive bracket to Anderson and Fuqua.

Your decision to focus your time and energy on your application materials -- especially your essays -- instead of retaking the GMAT makes sense. I always say that your essays are the only component of your application that you control 100%. In your case in particular, the essays are your opportunity to tell your story about why your law background will make you an exceptional business leader. Focus your attention there, and reach out to us at Admissionado if we can be of further help!
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