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Vantage Point MBA News

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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
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Don’t Quit Your Day Job!  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Mar 2019, 13:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
MBA applications take up a TON of time!! From studying for the GMAT to visiting schools, writing essays, prepping recommenders and interview prep, we estimate that the average applicant spends around 150 hours to 250 hours applying to b-school depending upon the number of schools you’re focused on. That’s a pretty serious part-time gig in addition to your day job.

So, every year I speak with a handful of people who have decided that they’re going to leave their jobs early in order to apply to business school.

Don’t do it (please).

Here’s why. For the top MBA programs, your work experience is a critical component of your application. They want to see what experience you can bring to the classroom and how much  potential you have to continue to progress in your career. So, if you quit before you apply, they know that you’re forgoing a good amount of work experience that others will have continued to gain up until they start school the following year.

The other reason is the overall message that it sends about your ability to manage and prioritize your life. Most people aren’t in a position to quit their jobs in order to apply, so the majority of applicants are in fact working full time jobs as well as dedicating a lot of time to applying. If you quit, then it’ll look like, relatively speaking, you can’t manage everything as well as others who are applying. The top schools are churning out future business leaders who will have to manage their own personal lives alongside demanding and complex careers for the foreseeable future, so make sure they know that you are already learning how to balance that.

Here is some advice for how to manage while keeping your job:

  • If possible, talk to your manager about it early. Give him/her your timeline showing how long it will take so your manager has a heads up that you’ll have this other big thing going on during those months
  • Many teams and managers are great about offering a more flexible situation while you’re applying. I’ve heard of companies that will let people leave early to take a GMAT class in exchange for managing a special project that might require weekend work or some other way to make it up. For people who work in travel heavy roles like consulting, I’ve seen teams focus on a local case for someone who’s applying. It’s not a requirement that they do this for you, but for the most part, if you ask, I find that many managers are receptive to finding a solution that works for everyone
  • Don’t procrastinate. Start early (right now), so that you can pace yourself. If you end-up on a crazy project that monopolizes two weeks, that’s not a big deal if you are pacing yourself and know you can make it up later.

And if you have already quit your job to apply, my advice is to find another job asap and volunteer in the meantime. There are some really cool organizations like Taproot out there that will match your talent with the needs of a local non-profit and that could give you great experience while you’re on the search.

If you want to discuss how we leverage strategies like these and others to help applicants get into the top schools at a 3.0x higher rate than the average, you can request an initial consultation with our team of top MBA admissions consultants at www.vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/.

The post Don’t Quit Your Day Job! appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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Breaking News – HBS Releases Early Deadline & Essay Prompt!  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Apr 2019, 06:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Breaking News – HBS Releases Early Deadline & Essay Prompt!
Harvard has announced a new early admissions round that they are calling “Round 0.”  They also released the essay prompt, with a deadline of April 1, 2019 at 11:59pm. Below is the essay prompt:

“As we review your application, in one word what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for Harvard Business School? (one word limit)”

If you’re considering racing to this finish line, here are some thoughts on how to approach the essay. As in years past, HBS continues its tradition of having open ended essay prompts.  This year, however, they’ve added a significant twist and have limited the response to a single word. Because, of course they would.

Here’s how to nail this essay:

  • Applicants who succeed with this prompt will keep their responses simple, and concise.  In terms of length, we recommend a minimum of 2 characters and a maximum of 27. For fans of Scrabble (we’re looking at you “QI” for 11 points), this is really your moment to shine.
  • Avoid nouns.  Just don’t go there.
  • Adjectives are hit or miss here.  If your application shows a strong career trajectory, then a word like “fast” might work.  However, it might imply arrogance, or irresponsibility. An adjective like “methodical” might be a better match.  It implies a degree of comprehensiveness, and the right balance of getting things done as a team player. The risk here is that it really depends on how the admissions officer is feeling at that particular moment of the day, and his or her gut response to your word.  
  • Verbs are powerful.  Do you have a record of delivering projects on time and crushing the results? If so, “expedite” might be your best option.  Are you cheerful, a bubbling personality? If so, “dance” might best describe you.

Also….Happy April Fool’s Day! (This whole article is a joke if you’re not familiar with what April Fool’s is!)

If you’re preparing for your real applications in the fall, as always, the team at Vantage Point MBA is here to help get your applications as strong as possible.  Each year our team of seasoned admissions consultants helps clients from all types of backgrounds build their stories, identify the right schools for them, work with recommenders, and nail their interviews.  That’s why our clients have a 3X higher admissions rate at the top schools than average. That part of this post is, in fact, not a joke!

The post Breaking News – HBS Releases Early Deadline & Essay Prompt! appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Re: Vantage Point MBA News  [#permalink]

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New post 01 Apr 2019, 19:59
Hey everyone! We wanted to share a great tool we developed to help MBA applicants such as yourselves compare the top programs side-by-side along key qualities such as average GMAT score, average years of work experience, % admitted, and a host of other stats. We've done the heavy lifting for you and compiled key data points that will help you understand how the top programs are different from one another and, ultimately, help you decide where you should apply.

https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/ ... -programs/
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How Much Time Does it Take to Apply to B-School?  [#permalink]

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New post 02 Apr 2019, 10:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How Much Time Does it Take to Apply to B-School?
Last week we presented to a large bank’s analyst class, and one of the first questions we were asked was “when should I start working on my applications if I’m applying in the fall?” It seems so far away…

But it’s not! You can guess where we’re going with this. The answer is that you need to start right now. Seriously, the amount of time you give yourself to put together a really strong pitch, presentation and overall application package has a very strong positive correlation with your potential for success. Last year, on average, our clients started working with us five months before the deadline (and some started a whole year in advance).

Here’s how this works: if you start now, you can tackle all of the “low hanging fruit” before the applications are released in the summer. You can take the GMAT or GRE, research and visit schools, talk to alums and current students, get your resume in MBA application condition, identify and start prepping your recommenders, research and refine your career goals, and get your story in solid condition. If you need a starting point, here’s a link to our Comparison of the Top MBA Programs.

If you tackle all of that before the applications come out over the summer, then you can really hit the ground running and be efficient with the essay writing process, which is the heavy lifting aspect of this process. On average, we see applicants writing 10-20 drafts of their essays for the top programs. Our double admits this past year (people who got into HBS and Stanford) wrote a minimum of 12 drafts of each essay (the max was 27 in case you’re wondering).

Why does it take so long? Because iteration is actually part of the process of making your applications, especially your essays, as good as they can possibly be. Here’s a general example. Draft one of an essay is where you take a shot at one of the themes you had in mind. Draft two is about taking that story or theme up a level so that you are focusing on one clear idea. Draft three is refining that content so that it’s going to fit within the word limit. Draft four is about shuffling the flow of the essay so that the reader can more easily “skim” and still understand the power of what you’re trying to say. Draft five incorporates more of your feelings and the “why” behind the stories in the essay. Draft six incorporates comments that your colleagues gave you about how you’re coming across. Draft seven is where you refine the way that you explained your key stories to make them more “to the point”. Draft eight is where you add on a powerful ending that helps explain your overall motivations. And so on, and so on. This process varies by person, but in general, plan on the essay writing phase taking 25+ hours per school. Don’t rush this – it’s critical.

So back to our main point: if you know that heavy lift is coming, plan for it. Start now and trust me, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll feel more prepared and more confident when you finally hit the submit button in the fall.

Below is the timeline that we generally recommend (showing round 1 as a proxy).

Image

And as always, reach out to us with any questions! We are still taking clients for round 1 and round 2 of this year’s application cycle. You can request a free initial consultation with one of our MBA admissions consultants by completing the form located here: https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/

The post How Much Time Does it Take to Apply to B-School? appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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How to Have Impressive Extracurriculars When You’re Busy  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Apr 2019, 13:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Have Impressive Extracurriculars When You’re Busy
Keeping yourself involved in extracurricular activities while also gunning for that next promotion or trying to learn Python for your day job is no easy feat. That said, being an engaged community citizen and leader is critical for your MBA applications. We find that people are often caught in the position of feeling like they don’t have time to dive head first into a long term leadership commitment outside of work and their personal lives, but they also recognize that being a passive member of something isn’t all that impressive on an MBA application. Don’t worry – there is a work around.

Though impressive and ideal if possible, you don’t have to chair a junior board or co-found a non-profit to demonstrate your ability to be a community leader. We’ve compiled a few ideas below for you to consider that are a) flexible and b) high impact with strong leadership opportunity potential!

Catchafire: The company Catchafire pairs you with a non-profit project need; and the work that you do is both very valuable for the organization as well as pure gold for your MBA applications. Consider this – before writing this article, I quickly searched which projects were available for finance people on Catchafire and found this:  a request for a one-hour phone conversation with the Laguna Canyon Foundation to discuss how to allocate indirect costs properly. If you’re a consultant or a banker, odds are that you can help a lot in just one hour! And then it goes on your resume and you can even talk about the experience in interviews. These things are often more than what you think they’re going to be as you realize just how much help you can provide in a relatively short period of time. For many people early in their careers it’s eye-opening to realize just how much you can help even with only a few years of experience!

When pursuing a project on Catchafire, you could look at it as one of several, small, one-off projects that you do when you have free time or an entree for you to provide more help to an organization remotely as you learn more about its needs and how you could help. Either way, it’s going to be a good leadership and community engagement story for your applications and you can feel good knowing that it’s also a really fantastic way to give back to your community and organizations that are doing great things around the country.

Taproot:  Another favorite, which is slightly more involved but also creates more leadership opportunity if you have the time, is the Taproot Foundation. Taproot also pairs volunteers with specific professional experience with non-profits in need of help. They offer a lot of remote projects as well as local, team-based projects where you can even sign-up to manage a team of other volunteers (eg. you set the schedule and practice project management!) Right now there’s a posting for a remote social media strategy plan for an organization in New York as well as a team-based SWOT Analysis project for a community education organization in California. I’ve had some clients from big brand companies who could create a social media strategy in their sleep! The nice thing about Taproot is that you can try a remote project and then, if you get some time, go for a team-based project another time. They will reach out to you with projects that seem to be in your wheelhouse.

Why are these two options better than going to alumni events? Go to those too, but by completing much-needed projects for non-profits in need, you can say that you are actually doing something and making a tangible impact; and that is key.  For alumni events or even fundraisers, unless you are organizing those events or playing a significant role in the planning or execution, it’s going to be hard to spin that you’re really being a leader or, an “engaged community citizen” to use adcom lingo. You can’t just be on the mailing list and attend a few socials or galas and call it an activity because most admissions officers will see through that (and HBS might even press you on it in the interview!) Sure, if that’s all you have, go for it and do what you can. But if you can get involved in something a little more in-depth, even if it’s just over the next few months, that will help in your overall branding as someone who is a leader and engaged community citizen.

These are just a few of many options but hopefully this gets you thinking about some of the possibilities out there. If you want to brainstorm ideas, reach out and request an initial consult with one of your consultants:  https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/.

The post How to Have Impressive Extracurriculars When You’re Busy appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Which MBA Program is Right for You? Use Our MBA Fit Tool to Find Out!  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Apr 2019, 13:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Which MBA Program is Right for You? Use Our MBA Fit Tool to Find Out!
 

Selecting an MBA program to apply to is about more than just rankings and scores. Your “fit” with a particular program and school – both in terms of what you’re looking for and what they’re looking for – is extremely important. Use our MBA Fit Tool to get an initial list of schools that may align with how you’re looking to spend the next two years.

Note that this is meant to be a starting point, not a final answer. We synthesized a lot of information, including our own opinions, as a way of helping you triangulate on some of the key factors for selecting a business school to apply to. Please note that this list only covers the top 20 US schools as that’s our area of expertise at Vantage Point MBA.

Want to discuss? Request an initial consultation to speak with us about your results!

 

The post Which MBA Program is Right for You? Use Our MBA Fit Tool to Find Out! appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Your Personal MBA Application Experts
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Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Apr 2019, 14:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable
Picture this: in an interview you’re asked a question about something that went wrong in a past job. Instead of simply explaining what happened, you find yourself shamelessly spinning a story about how you had a feeling all along that whatever “it” was would fail but your hand were tied. In different versions, this propensity to preserve our egos, hide our vulnerabilities and only talk about our wins shows up in many MBA applicants that we see. You want to be competitive, so you only talk about the biggest, best and highest profile projects that you’ve worked on or led. Yet, you forget that those wins don’t always tell the reader much about your personality, how you’ve grown (or approach personal growth), how you take feedback, and how you evaluate yourself and the success of your decisions.  You don’t want to write a whole application about all of your shortcomings and development needs, but this article is meant to inspire you to look deeper (and even into your past failures or vulnerabilities) for the best leadership stories that can help you stand out from other applicants.

When you read the first paragraph, you might have said to yourself “yeah I’d never do that”. But it’s more commonplace than you may initially think – for high achieving people, you have often been held to such a high standard for so long that you’re afraid to fall off of your pedestal by admitting that you were wrong or that you didn’t understand or didn’t do something correctly. It’s engrained in us to not show weakness, especially in certain high intensity careers. In fact, one of my first managers constantly recited the motto “never admit defeat” (meaning never say you were wrong). But when it comes to your leadership style, and the way you portray yourself in your MBA applications, being “vulnerable” in the right ways can signal a level of maturity and leadership potential that far surpasses what admissions directors are used to seeing. Being vulnerable can be much more of an asset than a weakness as you seek to demonstrate your leadership potential!

Zooming out, you may be saying to yourself “but I have limited space – why would I focus anything on a failure or weakness unless directly asked?” After all, you want to focus your application on highlighting how awesome you are and all of the examples to prove it. But consider this – being able to show that you learned, took feedback, grew, and turned something around is actually a very powerful message that can support how awesome you are as well. If you want further proof that this matters, ask Kellogg why they have continued to ask the question “how have you grown…” as part of their essay requirements. Kellogg asks directly but most schools are looking for and assessing this as well.

Here’s an example of how this could play out so you can see what I mean here. I had a client last year who worked at a very cool (and very large) e-commerce company that you can probably guess the name of. She had several cool leadership stories from her different roles at the company, but honestly they didn’t feel all that unique compared to her peers at other, comparable firms. Then during a brainstorming session we hit a gold mine – she started telling me a story about how she’d rebooted not only herself, but also her team, after a pretty epic project failure. She’d been reluctant to talk about the project in her applications since the initial failure could come across as reflecting poorly on her (and she’d have to admit her role in it). However, as we explored more, we realized that the risk of admitting a failure was much smaller than the amazing opportunity she had to demonstrate a deep sense of leadership, self-reflection and overall maturity.

The overarching project failure wasn’t entirely her fault – she was working on a small team led by someone who wasn’t a great manager; but she also admits that she didn’t speak-up as the ship was going down. Given how her org was setup, she probably could have done something. We started talking about all of the reasons why she hadn’t acted – fear, doubt, lack of confidence, etc. Then she explained how she course-corrected. The person who had been leading the team was asked to step down. The project resources were scaled back. And my client, despite being fairly young, was asked to lead the new, even smaller team to see if they could make it work (a last ditch effort). And you guessed it – she made it happen. She got creative, created a culture of consistent feedback on her team to prevent groupthink this time around, and ultimately launched a new tool for her company’s too-many-to-count number of customers.

Could someone read it and say “gee, I guess she’s not a natural leader because she didn’t speak up in the first place”? Maybe. But that’s not likely once they read about how she reflected upon her actions, how she wished she’d acted, and what that taught her about herself and how she needed to grow and develop. Then the “come from behind” win as well as the way she empowered her team was the icing on the cake demonstrating that not only was she able to personally grow, but she was able to start making an impact by learning fast and being thoughtful in her decisions.

That’s leadership potential friends. And that’s exactly the type of personality that admissions directors are looking for. In case you’re wondering, she got into her top two choices – Kellogg and Haas – even though her test scores were quite a bit below the average for those two schools. My guess is that it came down to her essays (as it often does), and she nailed it by painting a vivid picture of herself as a leader through a mix of touting accolades and being honest and vulnerable in admitting challenges and growth areas.

So, as you’re thinking about how to demonstrate your own leadership style and potential in your essays, here’s some food for thought from author and researcher Brene Brown who has conducted extensive research on the topic of vulnerability in leadership:

  • Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s a measure of courage. Admitting when you were wrong, worrying about something that you feared wouldn’t happen, or embarking on a scary endeavor are all indications of a person who is brave and ready to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to admit challenges and fears as they can say a lot about who you are as a person and who you’ll be as a future business leader (in a good way!)
  • Asking for help is a good thing. Hopefully you all know this, but admitting that you needed or asked for help is a really important thing to show the adcom that you know how to do (because that’s what you’ll do in b-school all the time). It’s ok, and actually great, to talk about when you needed help and how you sought it out. Seemingly solving all of your own problems all the time will come across as inauthentic and robotic.
  • Vulnerability builds trust. When you never admit you’re human, it’s hard for people to relate to you. And the MBA evaluation process is conducted by real, live people who are looking to see whether or not you can build relationships with other people.
  • Take off your armor. Being a real person with a low ego is the archetype of someone oozing with confidence and fearlessness. Be thoughtful about how you describe yourself, but don’t try so hard to seem perfect. As long as you can talk about how you’re constantly learning and growing, you’re going in the right direction.
  • I am absolutely not telling you to focus your application on weaknesses. Please read that again. The takeaway here is to look to your actual strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in order to present an accurate, human and inspiring picture of yourself as a fabulous classmate and visionary future business leader! Don’t hide from yourself so much – some of your low points may actually be the things that took you from good to great!
We major in helping people go through the self-analysis and reflection process to get to the very best stories for their MBA applications. Request an initial consultation if you want a thought partner as you establish your application strategy this year!

 

The post Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Your Personal MBA Application Experts
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For the Ladies: it’s Not “We”, it’s “Me” for Your MBA Applications  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 10:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: For the Ladies: it’s Not “We”, it’s “Me” for Your MBA Applications
It’s not “we” it’s “me”. For the ladies out there, repeat that one again to yourself.

For a large portion of the women I work with each year who are applying to the top MBA programs, at some point in the process we talk about the “W”:  not win, not woman, “we”. Women, much more so than men, tend to feel uncomfortable taking credit for the amazing things that they do without feeling bad about it. I didn’t come-up with this: it’s is a well-researched topic that many only think about in the context of getting to your next promotion (or taking leadership classes in b-school). But as someone who specializes in helping people sell themselves to the most competitive business schools in the world, please let me tell you that taking credit for how awesome you are is very much a part of your MBA applications as well. I know that some men have the challenge of being overly humble too, so please read on if this is you. But since it’s much more prevalent for women, I’m going to focus on the ladies for this article.

I’m not a psychologist, but I am a woman, and I know what it feels like to be uncomfortable tooting my own horn. I catch myself all the time: “we thought you would love this”, “we had a great new idea” etc. It wasn’t “we”, it was “me!”

As research, career coaches, and management professors all say, it may be uncomfortable at first, and even unnatural, but you just have to do it. If you don’t talk about how great you are, why would anyone else? You can be almost 100% certain that the admissions committee is not going to get a bunch of letters from people who work with you praising how incredible you are and how, in fact, you are the person who drives productivity in the office but are too humble to admit it.  And the idea that the admissions committee will read between the lines and put together the fact that you were actually the one doing all of the work is also an attempt in vain. They are skimming your application – if you don’t tell them directly, they will likely not get it. Being humble is great – just not to a fault. And it would be a fault to be overly humble when applying to business school.

Here’s why it matters for your MBA applications: top schools estimate that over 75% of applicants are qualified on paper. But we know that the average acceptance rate for the top 10 schools is only 16%. So, competition is already fierce. And a huge percentage of applicants, men, don’t tend to the struggle with the “we” issue as much as women. So if you want to be assessed based on your merits, you need to be upfront about them.

Here’s an example: last year I reviewed two sets of first draft essays around the same time of the application cycle – one for a man and one for a woman. Both applicants worked for large tech companies, both had impressive scores, and both of them had progressed at a good clip throughout their careers. The guy’s essay launched into a story about how he’d “led the redesign of the company’s consumer-facing ordering system”. It was truly an impressive story. For him I had to ask if he had, as his essays suggested, actually developed and led the entire thing by himself. The answer was no – he was part of a team and we discussed how to integrate that into his stories without diluting his contribution to the project’s strategy and direction.

The woman I was working with had also done some really cool things – she’d actually fixed and relaunched one of the company’s orphaned product lines. But interestingly, her stories read like this “we iterated on a variety of different solutions until we found the exact formula” or “we presented the idea to management and were proud when we were approved to move forward”. For her, I asked “who is we?” In fact, there wasn’t much of a “we” after all. She was in charge of the whole thing, she conducted all of the consumer testing, and she was the only full time dedicated team member focused on that project. She had some cross-functional collaborators and some vendors helping with the execution, but in general, the “we” was “she”.

When asked, she explained that she felt awkward being cocky or taking credit for something that clearly required cooperation across an organization. But at the same time, she wasn’t giving herself credit for the fact that she had the new ideas, she launched them, and she steered the ship to be successful working around the clock (and probably being fabulous at the same time!)

So ladies, if this sounds familiar, know that you’re like many talented, successful, amazing MBA women, but also know that it’s time to start overcoming that natural gravitational pull towards using the word “we” when in fact, you should be using “I” or “me”. Your MBA applications are a great place to practice self promotion balanced with tact, grace and of course also giving credit where it’s due.

If this article hits home for you, I probably don’t need to say this, but don’t go overboard and tack the other direction completely. It’s important to show that you have a high level of maturity, team skills and emotional intelligence. Confidence means being comfortable acknowledging how great you are as well as being confident enough to acknowledge when someone else is great. The goal is to highlight your accomplishments and give the admissions committee enough data points to accurately assess your leadership potential, not to force yourself to sound self-absorbed or cocky. The surest way to keep this in check is simply to have other people review your essays at various stages and give you feedback. If it sounds awkward, or not like you, then rewrite until it does.

And finally, if in doubt, don’t forget that you can also use strong but gracious action verbs like “co-led, co-managed, co-developed” etc. If you led an aspect of a project, talk about that. But if you truly partnered with someone else on all aspects of leading it, acknowledge that too. If you stepped up to the plate and really made an impact, make sure that’s reflected in the way you talk about it.

As an all-female MBA team, we know a thing or two about how this goes. Reach out if you’re wondering how to balance the “we” and “me” in your applications!

The post For the Ladies: it’s Not “We”, it’s “Me” for Your MBA Applications appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Apr 2019, 11:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable
Picture this:  in an interview you’re asked a question about something that went wrong in a past job. Instead of simply explaining what happened, you find yourself shamelessly spinning a story about how you had a feeling all along that whatever “it” was would fail but your hand were tied. In different versions, this propensity to preserve our egos, hide our vulnerabilities and only talk about our wins shows up in many MBA applicants that we see. You want to be competitive, so you only talk about the biggest, best and highest profile projects that you’ve worked on or led. Yet, you forget that those wins don’t always tell the reader much about your personality, how you’ve grown (or approach personal growth), how you take feedback, and how you evaluate yourself and the success of your decisions.  You don’t want to write a whole application about all of your shortcomings and development needs, but this article is meant to inspire you to look deeper (and even into your past failures or vulnerabilities) for the best leadership stories that can help you stand out from other applicants.

When you read the first paragraph, you might have said to yourself “yeah I’d never do that”. But it’s more commonplace than you may initially think – for high achieving people, you have often been held to such a high standard for so long that you’re afraid to fall off of your pedestal by admitting that you were wrong or that you didn’t understand or didn’t do something correctly. It’s engrained in us to not show weakness, especially in certain high intensity careers. In fact, one of my first managers constantly recited the motto “never admit defeat” (meaning never say you were wrong). But when it comes to your leadership style, and the way you portray yourself in your MBA applications, being “vulnerable” in the right ways can signal a level of maturity and leadership potential that far surpasses what admissions directors are used to seeing. Being vulnerable can be much more of an asset than a weakness as you seek to demonstrate your leadership potential!

Zooming out, you may be saying to yourself “but I have limited space – why would I focus anything on a failure or weakness unless directly asked?” After all, you want to focus your application on highlighting how awesome you are and all of the examples to prove it. But consider this – being able to show that you learned, took feedback, grew, and turned something around is actually a very powerful message that can support how awesome you are as well. If you want further proof that this matters, ask Kellogg why they have continued to ask the question “how have you grown…” as part of their essay requirements. Kellogg asks directly but most schools are looking for and assessing this as well.

Here’s an example of how this could play out so you can see what I mean here. I had a client last year who worked at a very cool (and very large) e-commerce company that you can probably guess the name of. She had several cool leadership stories from her different roles at the company, but honestly they didn’t feel all that unique compared to her peers at other, comparable firms. Then during a brainstorming session we hit a gold mine – she started telling me a story about how she’d rebooted not only herself, but also her team, after a pretty epic project failure. She’d been reluctant to talk about the project in her applications since the initial failure could come across as reflecting poorly on her (and she’d have to admit her role in it). However, as we explored more, we realized that the risk of admitting a failure was much smaller than the amazing opportunity she had to demonstrate a deep sense of leadership, self-reflection and overall maturity.

The overarching project failure wasn’t entirely her fault – she was working on a small team led by someone who wasn’t a great manager; but she also admits that she didn’t speak-up as the ship was going down. Given how her org was setup, she probably could have done something. We started talking about all of the reasons why she hadn’t acted – fear, doubt, lack of confidence, etc. Then she explained how she course-corrected. The person who had been leading the team was asked to step down. The project resources were scaled back. And my client, despite being fairly young, was asked to lead the new, even smaller team to see if they could make it work (a last ditch effort). And you guessed it – she made it happen. She got creative, created a culture of consistent feedback on her team to prevent groupthink this time around, and ultimately launched a new tool for her company’s too-many-to-count number of customers.

Could someone read it and say “gee, I guess she’s not a natural leader because she didn’t speak up in the first place”? Maybe. But that’s not likely once they read about how she reflected upon her actions, how she wished she’d acted, and what that taught her about herself and how she needed to grow and develop. Then the “come from behind” win as well as the way she empowered her team was the icing on the cake demonstrating that not only was she able to personally grow, but she was able to start making an impact by learning fast and being thoughtful in her decisions.

That’s leadership potential friends. And that’s exactly the type of personality that admissions directors are looking for. In case you’re wondering, she got into her top two choices – Kellogg and Haas – even though her test scores were quite a bit below the average for those two schools. My guess is that it came down to her essays (as it often does), and she nailed it by painting a vivid picture of herself as a leader through a mix of touting accolades and being honest and vulnerable in admitting challenges and growth areas.

So, as you’re thinking about how to demonstrate your own leadership style and potential in your essays, here’s some food for thought from author and researcher Brene Brown who has conducted extensive research on the topic of vulnerability in leadership:

  • Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s a measure of courage. Admitting when you were wrong, worrying about something that you feared wouldn’t happen, or embarking on a scary endeavor are all indications of a person who is brave and ready to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to admit challenges and fears as they can say a lot about who you are as a person and who you’ll be as a future business leader (in a good way!)
  • Asking for help is a good thing. Hopefully you all know this, but admitting that you needed or asked for help is a really important thing to show the adcom that you know how to do (because that’s what you’ll do in b-school all the time). It’s ok, and actually great, to talk about when you needed help and how you sought it out. Seemingly solving all of your own problems all the time will come across as inauthentic and robotic.
  • Vulnerability builds trust. When you never admit you’re human, it’s hard for people to relate to you. And the MBA evaluation process is conducted by real, live people who are looking to see whether or not you can build relationships with other people.
  • Take off your armor. Being a real person with a low ego is the archetype of someone oozing with confidence and fearlessness. Be thoughtful about how you describe yourself, but don’t try so hard to seem perfect. As long as you can talk about how you’re constantly learning and growing, you’re going in the right direction.
  • I am absolutely not telling you to focus your application on weaknesses. Please read that again. The takeaway here is to look to your actual strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in order to present an accurate, human and inspiring picture of yourself as a fabulous classmate and visionary future business leader! Don’t hide from yourself so much – some of your low points may actually be the things that took you from good to great!
We major in helping people go through the self-analysis and reflection process to get to the very best stories for their MBA applications. Request an initial consultation if you want a thought partner as you establish your application strategy this year!

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A Winning Approach to the HBS Essay Question  [#permalink]

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New post 06 May 2019, 21:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: A Winning Approach to the HBS Essay Question
At first glance, the Harvard Business School essay question, which will remain unchanged again this year, seems fairly simple. What more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? However, after giving it some more thought, many candidates find themselves quite lost, trying to figure out what the adcom is looking for and what stories and experiences from their background would be the best to write about in an essay like this.

With this lack of direction, it can be tempting to start writing a stream of consciousness that includes “everything.” Please don’t! From our years of advising successful applicants to HBS, we’ve found the below approach to provide just the right amount of structure to the brainstorming and writing process while leaving plenty of room for personal expression and creativity.

To start, here are a few ideas for you to consider how your own story could fit in as well as a sample framework for how we’ve seen applicants lay out these stories. We start broad because we find that applicants can get really creative when we don’t push them in a single direction from the get-go. (Note that anything hyper professionally-specific or undifferentiated like a banking deal team story should probably only be an example story somewhere in your essay, not the essay topic itself – our strong, strong recommendation.)

Frameworks

1) Pick a theme in your life that you can point to as a common thread (e.g. if you had moved every year growing up and how that impacted your world view). Is there something from your life that’s been a theme and you can point to how it’s impacted you personally, professionally and otherwise? It can be cultural heritage, family, traditions (large and small), etc. We’ve even had clients write about something as simple as a hobby like soccer or riding horses.

2) Pick a trait that you believe really exemplifies who you are (e.g. last year, we had a client write about how he got comfortable not always being the best, and sometimes being the worst; and how overcoming his fear of failure led him to some of his greatest achievements). This is probably the most common tact to take. GSB’s prompt in prior years has been “What matters most to you, and why?” and sometimes people find that to be an easier framework to think inside. This approach could result in a similar essay for HBS and Stanford GSB.

3) Pick something you’re really passionate about (your work is often hard to swing here but maybe there’s another thing you strongly believe you need to do to change the world?) Or maybe you have a strong passion behind what’s driving your goals that you can point to? In the past, we’ve had clients write about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, wanting to change industries, etc. But it’s atypical to spend an HBS essay focused on work.

This thing that drives you / motivates you / has made you who you are could be a thing, person, influence etc. We’ve had applicants write about personal mantras that coaches gave them, specific situations that happened to them as children that impacted the way they think, hobbies that helped them think outside the box, cultural influences that impacted the way they think, etc. So settle in and get comfortable turning the microscope on yourself!

Structure Ideas

Ultimately, you want an essay that is no more than two pages long and follows a structure somewhat like this:

P1: Intro (really interesting and summarizes the main point)

P2: Context / history of what you asserted about yourself in P1

P3: Example story from some point in life (can be any time really)

P4: Example story from another point in life (stories should demonstrate leadership as much as possible – these should be your most impressive stories of stepping up to the plate)

P5: Conclusion

In reality, your essay will be more like 8-9 paragraphs because your stories can take up multiple paragraphs.

What to Avoid

You should never write about “Why HBS,” nor really “Why MBA.” It’s possible that you integrate some “Why MBA” in the conclusion, but try to avoid that initially and see how it goes without it. This essay should be deep and personal. What drives you? Who are you as a person (if someone were to start writing a biography on you right now?) And importantly, for HBS, it should point to good examples of how you are a leader.

What Does HBS Look For

HBS looks for 1) Habit of leadership; 2) Analytical aptitude and appetite; 3) Engaged community citizenship. It wants strong leaders who will change the world. Nearly every successful candidate meets the criteria above so it’s important you demonstrate all of these throughout your application (but not necessarily all in the essays).

Get Personal

Your experiences and accomplishments don’t have to be massive things relatively speaking – not everyone has started a non-profit or is on a mission to save the world — but if they are significant to you and your trajectory and evolution as a person, then that’s the point. The goal is to show who you are, what drives you, and what has helped you become who you are today (and that person today is a strong, amazing leader).

We hope this helps get you started with the HBS essay! The ambiguity of the question makes it a really tough one but with some self-reflection, vulnerability, and a good bit of patience, you can write a great essay and hopefully have a bit of fun with it along the way.

The post A Winning Approach to the HBS Essay Question appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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These 3 Bullets Should Be On Your MBA Resume  [#permalink]

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New post 13 May 2019, 13:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: These 3 Bullets Should Be On Your MBA Resume
As you’re applying to business school, your resume is like your executive summary: it should concisely tell the story of how you’ve grown and developed over the course of your career as well as provide an indication of your focus areas and motivations. However, not all resume bullets are created equal!

Simply describing what you did or what you accomplished doesn’t always paint a complete picture of your leadership potential, which we know is one of the largest areas of evaluation. As such, below is a list of three bullets that you should include on your resume to ensure that you’re giving the admissions committees some data points that they can use to assess not only your career progression but also your leadership potential. You can pick from experiences in college, work or the community; but before you hit submit, we recommend that you have all three of the stories below embedded in your resume in some way, shape or form.

  • A Time When You Created: Someone who creates is often someone who goes “above and beyond”. People who create take it upon themselves to innovate and try something new in hopes of creating “lasting value”, as Kellogg would say. Consciously or unconsciously you take steps to problem solve, strategize and often motivate a team in order to come-up with a creation that actually works. All of that spells leadership to an admissions committee! So, whether it’s a time that you developed a new logistics plan for your team in response to a problem that you saw (like one of my clients right now) or you established a fundraiser for a cause that you care about in your hometown, make sure you are able to provide evidence that you are someone who can create and innovate.
  • A Time When You Fixed: Taking the time to fix something that’s broken or malfunctioning signals that you have a strong work ethic, that you care, that you are a team player, and that you are proactive. So many people walk by or around problems and issues every day and just look the other way (literally or figuratively); but leaders, and game changers take the time to stop and make it better because they know it’ll help everyone in the long run. Perhaps you took the time to go back and adjust the data in your company’s CRM so that you could make better data driven decisions; or maybe you rewrote the onboarding program for your company so that it was brought up to current times. Whatever the case, providing evidence that you “fix what’s broken” can go a long way in demonstrating your character and leadership potential.
  • A Time When You Enhanced: Some of the best business leaders are those who subscribe to the notion of continuous improvement. Leaders don’t assume that everything is perfect “as is”; instead they have an ability to keep asking questions and making improvements if needed.  Perhaps you questioned whether the algorithm your company was using was the best option; or maybe you pushed back when senior leadership wanted to delay the launch of a new service. Whatever the case, and whatever the action, telling a story about a time when you enhanced or improved a process, project, or even product can signal that you are the type of person who believes in pushing the boundaries and working towards excellence (eg. you don’t just take orders and not care whether it’s the best it could be).

If you have multiple stories for each of these categories, great! But at a minimum, try to weave at least one of each of these categories into your resume in order to ensure that your leadership potential shines through!

Other articles from Vantage Point MBA that you may like:

A Quick Comparison of the Top MBA Programs
https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/comparison-of-top-mba-programs/

When To Retake the GMAT (And When Not To)
https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/comparison-of-top-mba-programs/

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How to Develop Your Personal Brand  [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2019, 07:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Develop Your Personal Brand
An insightful applicant asked me last week “when have you seen an applicant fail?” I love this question. And as I thought about the applicants who had come to us asking for an assessment of what went wrong last year, there was one thing their applications had in common: lack of a clear theme. At Vantage Point MBA, we call your application’s theme your “Personal Brand”. After all, an MBA application is a marketing pitch – you’re selling yourself and your vision to the schools you hope to attend.

For those of you planning to apply this year, now is the time to start nailing down your personal brand. It will be the backbone of your application (especially your essays!) To help you get started, below I’ve laid out an abbreviated version of the process that we take our clients through to discover and refine their personal brands. Take a few moments to walk through the exercise below and see what you come up with. To refine your brand, you’ll want to get multiple opinions and talk it through with someone you trust as a thought or brainstorming partner. The ultimate goal is to have a clear statement (comprised of no more than 3 sentences) that describes you and your goals.

Initial Framework:  Answer the questions below to establish the key components of a good personal brand.

  • What skills / experience do you have today?

  • What is unique about you?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • What will you accomplish in the future (long term goals)?

  • What do you need to do in order to accomplish your long term goals (experience you need, skills you need etc)?

The “Personal” Details: Now answer the questions below to determine which personal details can support and enhance the initial framework above. Which aspects are the most unique and different that can help explain your passion and/or vision for the future?

  • What has made you who you are today?
  • Who has made you who you are today?
  • What has been the most influential experience in your life to date?
  • What is unique about the way you grew-up or your career to date?
  • What are you most proud of and why?
  • Who do you most admire – which qualities in particular and why?

Now, look back at your initial framing details. What stories from your life, interests, experiences or overall opinions and feelings can you bring in to help better tell that story (and make it more interesting)? Did a particular personal experience spur your interest in your long term goals?

We have our clients distill their stories down to 2-3 sentences and make it a sticky note on their laptops so that as they consider each aspect of the application, they can look back and make sure that their applications align with their brand.

Remember, your personal brand should be a sincere representation of you and your goals. Don’t try to tell a school what you think they want to hear. The best personal brands are authentic and rich with depth and thoughtfulness. For most people, nailing down a personal brand takes a good bit of iteration until you have that coveted “aha moment”!

You May Also be Interested In:


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Are You Behind? Your Round 1 Application Plan  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Jun 2019, 14:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Are You Behind? Your Round 1 Application Plan
If you’re planning to apply to an MBA program round 1, it’s go-time! Many schools have already released essay topics and deadlines, so hopefully you already have a strong application strategy and personal brand that you’re leveraging to start thinking about how to approach one of the most critical and time-intensive aspects of the applications: the essays. If you’ve done all of the upfront work and are hitting the ground running right now, bravo! If you’re just starting, below is a suggested timeline for how to best use the next 13 weeks before the first deadlines hit.

Your 13 Week MBA Application Plan

For the weeks below, we listed what we would expect our clients to have completed or accomplished by the end of that week, give or take. Please note that by this point we expect that you have a GMAT score or firm test date already so that you can focus more on the actual application. If not, you can assume that GMAT prep is concurrent to the items below.

A few key notes:  we recommend at least five drafts of your resume (this small document is critical to your application); and at least 10 drafts of your first essay set. For each draft, we recommend getting feedback from a variety of different people – alumni of that school, co-workers, a consultant, and/or friends and family who know how the process works. You won’t know the background of the person reviewing your application on the other side, so it’s best to get multiple perspectives. For context, many of our clients complete 10-20 drafts of each essay set, and normally we have 5-8 rounds of editing on a resume. The number of drafts doesn’t correlate with English skills, time spent or overall intelligence. Iteration makes for a better product so we view drafting as part of the process of getting to success. Many people think better when they can react to something on paper, so getting pen to paper helps spur the creative process. Below we laid-out what this might look like at a minimum, but of course it varies by person.

For the week of,

June 10:

  • Mitigation strategy for any perceived weaknesses in tact and being executed upon
  • Well-defined personal brand and/or story that has been vetted by at least three other people for being personal, differentiating, interesting, and visionary
  • Schools researched and selected; presentations signed-up for and/or school visits completed or scheduled

June 17

  • Resume complete after at least five drafts that have been reviewed and commented upon by someone other than yourself and your family (co-workers, friends, former classmates, consultant, etc)
  • Drafts for School 1’s essays complete and being reviewed by someone else for feedback on content, readability, and how well they address the key dimensions that the adcoms are looking for
  • Conversations scheduled with your MBA alumni friends to learn more detail about their experiences and programs so you have more context for your essays

June 24

  • Recommender packets prepared and meetings scheduled to explain the process and get them energized about your story and goals
  • Second and third drafts completed for School 1’s essays with reviews by friends, family, co-workers and/or a consultant

July 1

  • First draft of School 2’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Fourth and fifth drafts completed for School 1’s essays and being reviewed

July 8

  • First draft of School 3’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Continue drafting School’s 1 and 2 (typically 10+ versions of essay set number 1 is normal; and we normally see fewer iterations for subsequent schools)
  • Check-in with recommenders to make sure they have a plan of attack

July 15

  • Second and third drafts of School 3’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Continue drafting School’s 1 and 2

July 22

  • First draft of School 4’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Finalize School 1’s essays
  • Continue drafting on School’s 2 and 3

July 29

  • Second and third drafts of School 4’s essays completed and being reviewed
  • Continue drafting on School’s 2 and 3

August 5

  • Finalize School 2’s essays
  • Continue drafting School’s 3 and 4
  • Start the application form for School 1 (completing the mini-questions embedded, determining how to leverage all of the space to maximize the information you share etc)

August 12

  • Continue drafting School’s 3 and 4
  • Send your completed School 1 application to someone to review in entirety and provide feedback (optimally someone who knows about the process like an MBA alum etc).

August 19

  • Finalize School 3’s essays
  • Continue drafting School 4
  • Send your completed applications to alums or other reviewers for final checks and integrate feedback accordingly
  • Check-in with recommenders

August 26

  • Finalize School 4’s essays
  • Complete the remaining application forms for Schools 2-4

September 2

  • Buffer week in the event that things slipped, an essay had you stuck, or you decided to change course (which happens to a fair number of people)

September 9

  • First Week of Deadlines!

If you need a turbo charge, we have ~10 spots left for round 1 right now and are happy to talk about how we could help. Please request a consultation here:  www.vantagepointmba.com

More from Vantage Point MBA:

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Should You Apply Round 1 or Wait for Round 2?  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jun 2019, 12:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Should You Apply Round 1 or Wait for Round 2?
HBS is due in 13 weeks. This is the time of year when many applicants realize that the crazy project from work, your wedding planning, or whatever else has been a major time commitment has left you feeling pressed for time in what is actually a longer process than you originally thought. As such, this is also the time when many applicants start wondering whether they should just push their round one applications to round two. Right now, you still have plenty of time to get your act together; but here are a few other items to consider when making this decision over the coming weeks.

While there’s no conclusive data to support it (notice all of the heavy caveats on any “data” you find), many applicants believe that their chances of admission in R1 are higher than in R2. The logic (which I believe in) is pretty straight forward – in R1 you are starting with a blank slate more or less; and by R2, admissions committees have already started to build-out their classes. Our former adcom team recommends R1 especially for those with 4+ years of experience and/or who are coming from overrepresented industries like consulting and finance. The reality is that the R1 vs. R2 acceptance rates fluctuate from year to year (yet we do know clearly that R3 is always a very low acceptance rate round for most US schools). I like to be very conservative, so if you have the ability to apply R1, I say go for it; but not if you’re going to submit a second rate app.

For your mental health, by this point in the application process, we know there’s a strong desire on the part of many applicants to ‘be done with it already.’ We get it. You spent a few months studying for the GMAT, you’ve talked to your recommenders, you’ve memorized the schools’ websites. You’re ready to do this and then hopefully know the outcome one way or another so you can start planning next year.

That said, we always appreciate someone gunning to a finish line, but we do not recommend sacrificing one ounce of quality just to apply round 1. This is a competitive process – you have to bring your A game. If you don’t have time to execute on your plan of retaking the GMAT, writing essays and learning about the schools concurrently over the next 13 weeks, then you may want to start thinking about plan B. Our advice for people having this internal debate right now is to keep marching forward but focus on quality over speed. This process takes a lot of hard work – don’t dilute it and submit anything but your very best.

On the other side of the coin, just being stressed and maybe a little nervous doesn’t warrant panicking and punting to R2 simply for the comfort of time (or continuing to spin your wheels). Once you can say ‘I’ve done everything I possibly could’, then go for it.

If you decide to wait, give yourself a break. You’re making the right decision to put yourself in the best position for success, but deciding to do so is hard and can feel a bit like defeat. So go ahead and reward yourself with a week or two off. Reconnect with your friends and family. Go to the gym. See a movie. Do whatever you need to do to clear your head, and get ready to come back to your applications with a fresh set of eyes and a renewed focus.

If you’re wondering whether your application is ready for R1, feel free to reach out. We can give you some feedback and/or you can run your application through our Trial Run process so that a former top 10 adcom member can simulate your application review before the real thing.

The post Should You Apply Round 1 or Wait for Round 2? appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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Which Apps are Out? MBA Deadlines & Essays  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jun 2019, 11:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Which Apps are Out? MBA Deadlines & Essays
Over the last few weeks, several of the top MBA programs have released their application deadlines and essay topics for the 2019-2020 season. Below we’ve summarized what’s out so far so you can stay on top of it.

Remember, when to apply matters. Early action programs tend to have higher acceptance rates but are typically binding commitments. Round 1 is the optimal round for most applicants, especially those with 4+ years of work experience or who are applying from an over-represented background like banking or consulting. But at the end of the day, the most important factor is actually what you submit. So, our advice is typically to weigh the factors but don’t sacrifice quality for speed (see our longer article on Round 1 vs. Round 2 if you’re debating right now).


Early Action
Round 1
Round 2
Essays

Chicago Booth


Sept 26
Jan 7
Live!

Columbia
Oct 4
Jan 3 (scholarship)
April 10
Live!

UVA Darden
Sept 3
Oct 4
Jan 6
Live!

Duke Fuqua
Sept 19
Oct 14
Jan 6
?

HBS

Sept 4
Jan 6
Live!

INSEAD

Sept 18
Nov 6, Jan 15
?

Kellogg

Sept 18
Jan 8
Live!

Michigan Ross


Sept 30
Jan 6
Live!

Dartmouth Tuck


Oct 7
Jan 6
Live!

Wharton

Sept 17
Jan 7
Live!

Yale SOM

Sept 10
Jan 7
?

Stanford

?
?
?

MIT Sloan

?
?
?

Haas

?
?
?

NYU Stern

?
?
?



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How to Make Your Resume “MBA Ready”  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jun 2019, 16:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Make Your Resume “MBA Ready”
The resume you used to get your last job is not the one you will use to apply to business school. I know – it’s frustrating. You spent hours getting it right to go out into the job market, only to find that you’re going to have to rework that small but powerful document in order to apply to an MBA program. Here’s a list of the major differences between the resume you have now and the one you will submit in a few months as part of your MBA applications.



  • Your MBA resume will be higher level and with less industry jargon.  From your one page resume, the admissions committee should be able to get a sense for what you do, what’s unique about you, and what perspectives and experiences you can bring to the classroom.  However, they can’t do that if they don’t understand what they’re reading. Bankers, e-commerce and technology people, and consultants – I’m definitely talking to you. But of course everyone runs into the jargon issue. Here’s a trick:  take a step back and ask yourself “is this how I would explain my job to my best friend’s mom or dad who works in business but maybe not my exact field?” You can assume there is a little understanding of the general field you are in, but you want to keep your descriptions high level so that anyone, regardless of background, can “get it”. We ask all of our clients to have family or friends read their resumes and then explain what they picture or imagine the person doing all day. The admissions committee will absolutely imagine you as they are reading about your job – it’s human nature – so give them cool descriptions that align with how you want to be viewed. Note that I’m not saying to dumb down your accomplishments just because they are complex. You can include names of programming languages and complex financial products in a way that is understandable across audiences – it usually just takes a few extra words.
  • Your MBA resume needs to focus on storytelling and accomplishments. Think of this resume as more of an elevator pitch than a checklist of skills. Whereas a potential employer may be scanning to see what types of things you’ve been exposed to and/or can work on to assess how quickly you can hit the ground running in a new role, MBA admissions committees are looking for leadership potential, demonstrated team skills, demonstrated problem solving skills, career progression, and a well-rounded individual with dynamic interests. We ask our clients to write no more than two bullets describing “what they do” for each job so they have maximum space to explain “what they have accomplished” in very short, two-line, stories. As mentioned above, they are picturing you. So give them quick stories that give a glimpse into what you’re like to work with, what type of initiative you take, and how you are crushing it and being recognized as a rockstar in your company.
  • You’ll include more interests and hobbies than you have now. I often hear people say that they don’t have any extracurriculars. That’s generally not the case when we get down to it. Extracurriculars don’t have to be just volunteering and junior boards. Though we like to see an “engaged community citizen”, it’s important to give a complete sense of what your interests and activities are, even if you don’t think they are as powerful as leading a volunteering effort. Why? Because MBA programs are not looking for people who just eat, sleep and work. They want to recruit leaders who can demonstrate that they have people skills and will be able to thrive in the highly-social MBA environment. So, maybe you haven’t had time to really engage as a volunteer since college because you’re traveling every week, but perhaps you play in a recreational tennis league every Sunday. That absolutely counts and it’s likely that it should be a bullet under “community and other” in your resume or at least in the interests section. Whereas your next employer may not care what you do outside of the office to the same degree, MBA programs most certainly do.
  • You’ll pick and choose more. You can’t tell the same types of stories over and over in your MBA resume. You don’t have that much space. If you built financial models for six IPOS, don’t give each one a bullet (bankers – in general I don’t like the exhaustive transaction experience list that you likely use for work – pick a few of the best). Boil your experiences up to what the main accomplishments were and select those as your examples of what you did in a particular job. You want a good balance of showing leadership, analytical, teamwork and problem solving skills across your resume, so be careful not to waste space giving too many examples of any one area.


This goes for work resumes too, but formatting, spelling and grammar are very important. Admissions directors notice, especially on the resume. Be a crazy perfectionist when it comes to this!



And finally, get feedback. Have people from different industries and backgrounds read your resume and tell you what they think and how they interpreted what you do and have done. We recommend doing this a few times as you’re finalizing your resume in order to feel like you’ve gotten a diverse array of perspectives.

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What Matters in Choosing an MBA Program  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Dec 2019, 16:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: What Matters in Choosing an MBA Program


The rankings, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Economist, and several others, are a logical starting point when evaluating MBA programs and can provide a general pulse on how the market feels about the school. That said, have you ever noticed how widely rankings can vary by source, depending on methodology, and even the year? This volatility indicates the importance of diving deeper into your MBA program research to understand fit for you.

First things first, you are likely going to business school to advance your career development, either in the industry/function you are in now, or to pivot into a new career path. So, it’s always a great idea to start with digging into the recruiting data to determine if the programs on your radar have a history of placing graduates in the industry and companies of your choice. Most schools publish annual recruiting data and statistics (available on their website) to inform candidates on their students’ placement, typically including a breakdown of the class by popular industries, functions, geography, and often the most popular employers.

Beyond recruiting, it’s also helpful to understand which schools offer specialized tracks (e.g. product management) or dedicated institutes (e.g. entrepreneurship centers) within your area of interest that will allow you to flesh out your career passion further. These go hand-in-hand with experiential learning opportunities and externships, international exposure, and the ubiquitous summer internship.

MBA programs are also differentiated by their style of curriculum, core and elective class structure, and if you will be part of a section or cohort. These dynamics play a significant role in the academic environment (competitive vs. collaborative) so it’s important to consider what suits you best. HBS is well known for the case method, in which students read through real world business cases and problem solve accordingly. Conversely, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper touts a management science approach, focused on building an analytical and leadership toolkit.

Lastly, one of the most important elements of selecting an MBA program  is culture fit. Similar to companies, most business schools have a noticeable culture in terms of the student profile and level of social engagement. Career and culture intersect through clubs (often ranging from professional affinity clubs to special interest clubs such as Wine Club or Follies), international travel (including random walks or treks), and social events.  Class size can impact culture, with a smaller, tightknit program offering an intimate learning environment and an oft-loyal alumni network.  A larger class can offer a bigger alumni network, and potentially an increased number of employers recruiting on- and off-campus due to the higher potential to yield their desired number of candidates.  Overall, one of the most valuable, lasting assets of business school (and sometimes overlooked in the school selection process) is a powerful network.  That can mean different things to different people – a strong professional network within your field or industry, a large breadth of connections overall, or a tightknit culture building lifelong friendships (and loyal career contacts) – but should be a priority consideration.

So how do you figure out all of this information?  Conducting online research and speaking to current students or alumni are essential. Vantage Point MBA also offers a [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/04/16/which-mba-program-is-right-for-you-use-our-mba-fit-tool-to-find-out/]free school fit quiz[/url] which will provide a good starting point in your research process. However, we also encourage candidates to visit schools during the application process. While it can be a financial and time commitment, which is why many folks wait to see where they get in and then visit, it can also be extremely beneficial in terms of prioritizing schools and completing applications (particularly essays and interviews).  A visit could include a range of tactical items, like campus tours and attending classes, to alumni panels, lunches with students, and getting a sense for the general environment and atmosphere.  In particular, culture is very hard to capture without experiencing it first-hand.  It helps to answer the question: “Can I picture myself here?”

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/12/19/what-matters-in-choosing-an-mba-program/]What Matters in Choosing an MBA Program[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Still in College? HBS 2+2 and Other Deferred MBA Programs May Be For Y  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jan 2020, 19:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Still in College? HBS 2+2 and Other Deferred MBA Programs May Be For You


As a college senior, are you wondering, “If I take this job over another, will my chances of getting into grad school be higher or lower?” or “Will this job give me enough experience to be appealing to the top MBA programs when I graduate?”

These questions are hard to answer right now as, after you graduate, your career could take many paths – some of which you can’t even conceive of right now. Maybe the start-up you join after graduation will IPO next year and your career will take off. Or maybe your Peace Corps assignment will show you a whole new set of global problems that you will want to solve as a future business or non-profit leader. Or conversely, maybe your first job will help you see that banking or marketing wasn’t for you after all. Regardless, if you want to have the freedom to take a job without wondering what it means for you future grad school prospects AND be able to take more risks and explore, then a deferred MBA program may be the right move for you.

In recent years, we’ve seen significant growth in the deferred admissions programs at the top MBA programs. A trend that started primarily at Harvard Business School with the 2+2 program has now come to Stanford GSB, Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, UVA’s Darden, and Yale.

Does this make sense for you? Here’s what to ask yourself:

[list]
[*]Are you a college senior (or, for some programs, are you in a law, medical or one year master’s program)?[/*]
[*]Are you reasonably confident that you’ll want to go to business school in the next 2-5 years?[/*]
[/list]
If the answers to those two questions are “yes”, then there isn’t much of a downside of applying if your overall profile is in the running (scores, GPA, etc); and a lot of upside if you’re among the few admitted each year.

What are the requirements?

[list]
[*]GMAT: For most programs, you need to have a GMAT or GRE score to apply (the exception is MIT where you can bypass the GMAT if you have over a 4.25 as a current MIT undergrad). 720+ is going to be the score you want to shoot for. HBS 2+2 average GMAT tends to be in the 740 range, as a reference. [/*]
[*]GPA: Strong undergrad performance is key. Without this, you’ll have a tough time hitting the bar for the deferred programs, but the good news is that you have plenty of time to take more coursework and prove yourself before the full time applications in a few years.[/*]
[*]Essays: In order to write strong essays, you’ll need to be doing a lot of self reflection and seeking advice from mentors. You’ll need to have a vision as well as a sense for your strengths and weaknesses at this stage of your career. [/*]
[/list]
For some schools, there are particular applicant qualities or focus areas they are looking for. HBS 2+2 admits are over 60% STEM majors, and this year HBS has stated a preference for those 1) planning to work in an operating company (tech, manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, industrials, etc.); 2) from a lower socio-economic background (first generation in college, lower income family background, less family exposure to graduate school); 3) going into a technically demanding role; or 4) pursuing entrepreneurship.

And some programs provide scholarship incentive to early admits, including Wharton ($10,000) as well as Darden ($15,000).

So, should you apply?

These programs are incredibly competitive. If your scores and stats are in range, then we encourage people to apply if it feels like the right program for them. Many wonder if an unsuccessful application to a deferred admission program will hurt their future chances, and the answer is definitely no. In fact, reapplying in the future may just signal how strong your interest in a particular program is.

Vantage Point MBA Consultant and former Director of Admission at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business Gretchen Athas says, “When the admissions committees see someone who is back ‘at bat’ and with an even stronger profile, it’s viewed very favorably. It demonstrates commitment when we can see that someone took an unsuccessful result and turned that into personal and professional growth so they could apply again down the road.”

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/01/27/still-in-college-deferred-mba-programs-may-be-for-you/]Still in College? HBS 2+2 and Other Deferred MBA Programs May Be For You[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Should You Apply in Round 3?  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Feb 2020, 17:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Should You Apply in Round 3?


If you’re wondering where the last six months went, how they flew by in a blur, you’re not alone! If the first two application deadlines for the top MBA programs somehow got away from you, you’re also not alone! And now you’re probably questioning if it’s worth applying in round 3 or waiting until next year.

While we can’t make the decision for you, we can tell you the truth about round 3 (spoiler alert – the answer is probably going to be that you should wait for round 1 of next year):

[list]
[*]Chances go down, waaaaay down in round 3. Unfortunately, by the time round 3 comes around, most of the class at any of the top programs has been filled with prior round applicants. In fact, HBS decided to get rid of its round 3 cycle last year. In many cases, by the time round 3 comes around, the adcom is also re-evaluating waitlist candidates from the prior two rounds, so competition is fierce for a finite number of seats. Although the schools don’t publish acceptance rates broken out by rounds, our friends at Poets & Quants have done some digging and have estimated the acceptance rates per round based on self-reported data from GMAT Club. This is by no means a perfect sample, so please take it with a grain of salt – but it can be used directionally. For example, acceptance in round 3 at Stanford was found to decline by 75% (vs. round 1) to a mere 2% of applicants – ouch! Other programs such as HBS, Haas, and Tuck are thought to decline 65-68% (vs. round 1) to acceptance rates of <10% in the final round. Some schools have acceptance rates that round to zero for round three![/*]
[*]The adcom is refining, not building the class. At this point in the application cycle, the adcom has been reviewing applications for six or more months. This means that the chances that they’ve admitted applicants who are similar to you are quite high. It also means that the bar is set that much higher for you to distinguish yourself and stand out as a candidate. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that we’ve consistently heard from adcoms at the top programs that they look at round 3 applicants to refine and fill any gaps in the final composition of the class. While that’s much more art than science, it does present a challenging case for many traditionally over-represented applicant profiles (i.e. consultants, IB/PE, engineers from India, tech etc.) This is not to pick on these folks, but the reality is that the chances that a top program has a lack of consultants, for example, among its pool of admitted students is simply lower. Have consultants ever been admitted in round 3? Of course! But it’s an uphill battle.[/*]
[*]Scholarship money is typically less available. Some schools consider all applicants – no matter the application round – for merit-based and need-based scholarships/fellowships. Others, such as Columbia Business School, have a January (or early spring) deadline in order to be eligible for scholarships and fellowships. Since the timing and process around financial aid varies from program to program, we suggest confirming that for your specific list of schools. However, even if your school(s) awards financial aid on a rolling basis, the funds left over for round 3 applicants are simply lower as earlier applicants will have received priority.[/*]
[*]Additional considerations for international applicants. Lastly, if you’re an international applicant, most schools recommend that you apply in round 1 or round 2 in order to give yourself plenty of time for visa processing, housing arrangements, etc. It’s not impossible to make the timing work for round 3 but it will most likely be stressful. [/*]
[/list]
Although round 3 does come with its risks, it’s not all downside. [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2017/04/05/acceptance-to-an-m7-in-round-3-yes-its-possible/]Every year, dozens of fantastic candidates are admitted in round 3[/url]. If they weren’t, then all of the schools would just do away with the late round(s), right? But we know the bar is just a lot higher. In our experience, round 3 could be right for you if:

1.You have a tight and differentiated application. The adcom expects round 3 applicants to be that much more buttoned up. (After all, you’ve had more time to work on your applications than prior applicants.) If you’ve done the hard work of putting together a compelling story, thoughtful and well-written essays (this takes multiple edits and drafts), and a great GMAT score, then it could be the right time for you to apply. And if it doesn’t work out, you can consider that you gave them a preview of what’s to come in round 1 of next year! (And this is not a bad thing). You just have to be confident that between now and round 1, you’ll have a really interesting and compelling update to provide if you have to apply again.

AND / OR

2.You have a compelling reason for your round 3 timing. The adcom will often expect you to have a compelling reason for why you waited until round 3 to apply to their program. Sometimes circumstances such as an illness or military service push you into round 3. Sometimes it’s the timing of wrapping up an important project at work, travel, or a promotion. No matter what it is for you, be sure to explain your reasoning and don’t leave it to assumption.

Not too certain after all if round 3 is right for you? Well, it may be worth waiting until round 1 of next year if:

[list]
[*] You’re a younger applicant. If you have less than three years of work experience, which is below average for the top MBA programs, it may serve you well to get a few more months on the job before applying. During that time, you could strengthen your leadership experience, manage summer interns, take on a new innovative project, etc; all of which could serve to improve your profile.[/*]
[*] Generally, your app isn’t the best it could be (GMAT, ECs, leadership experience, etc.) If you’re aiming for the top programs and there are any aspects of your application that you could still impact for the better, it may be worth focusing on getting those right before you apply. No matter what the timing, we always advise our clients to submit their applications when they’re in the best place possible.[/*]
[*] You don’t think you’d make a good reapplicant. These days, being a reapplicant is NOT a bad thing. Most schools tell us that they like to see the commitment of reapplicants. [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2018/04/03/how-an-hbs-re-applicant-made-sure-that-she-got-in-this-year/]We helped a third time reapplicant get into HBS and Stanford[/url] just this past year! However, in order to be a good reapplicant, you need to be able to demonstrate growth, development and progression since your last app. If you don’t think much will change between March and September for you, then it may be best to wait and apply with your best foot forward in round 1. It’s NEVER a good idea to submit a sub part application in haste – as a reapplicant, they will be looking at your original application again, so if you submitted a sloppy piece of work, it will haunt you. [/*]
[/list]
As always, reach out to us if you aren’t sure and we can help:  [url=http://www.vantagepointmba.com]www.vantagepointmba.com [/url]



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/02/05/should-you-apply-in-round-3/]Should You Apply in Round 3?[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Five Things You Can Be Doing Right Now  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Feb 2020, 03:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Five Things You Can Be Doing Right Now


It’s already February, and while it may seem like you have plenty of time before the first round of MBA application deadlines, there are several things that you can be doing right now to give yourself a leg up on applications this year (and reduce your stress level in the fall). We recommend that you take a look at the list below and start laying-out your timeline for the year, assuming that everything will take longer than you think. If you start now, you’ll set yourself up for success in a few months.



1. Schedule Your Class Visits for this Spring

If you plan to apply round 1 (which you should if you’re this early in the process), there’s a very small window of opportunity in the spring to squeeze in class visits before the end of the school year. So, we recommend that you visit over the next few months. School visits help you to assess which schools may be the best fit for you and also give you insight into valuable essay and interview ammunition such as the specifics of clubs, classes and the school’s culture that are challenging to conceptualize from merely reading the website. Those who visit almost always write better essays than those who don’t, from our experience.



2. Take the GMAT ASAP (Seriously – Just Schedule the Exam and Don’t Look Back)

Knowing your GMAT score in advance can help you a) better focus your school research; b) help determine if you need to take extra classes in advance of applying (eg. to offset a weaker score); c) ensure ample time to retake the test if you desire; and d) take that burden off your plate, enabling you to focus on the higher-level, strategic aspects of the application such as defining your story and goals.



3. Get Those Coffee Chats on the Calendar

An MBA is more than an academic degree. It’s a full program with many aspects and attributes that are often hard to understand without having been there yourself. Seek-out those in your network who can talk to you about their MBA experiences. Having these conversations early will help you not only collect information to accelerate your process (eg. information on school cultures, different career paths, etc); but it could also lead to stronger advocacy for you by these individuals as they write your recommendations later on. Everyone likes to see someone being proactive!



4. Be Honest About Your Weaknesses…So You Have Time to Do Something About Them

It’s not too hard to find information on what the schools are looking for. Think through where your areas of weakness are and create an action plan to address those issues over the coming months. Typical areas of weakness include low undergrad grades / GPA, low GMAT score, limited extracurricular involvement, limited leadership experience, etc. Though you can’t change the past, you can always mitigate the potential negative impact of anything that’s less than perfect on your profile.



5. Start Thinking About Your Goals ASAP

Being able to articulate why the MBA is the right degree for you and what you plan to do with it is extremely important. There are limited spaces available in each top MBA program, so they want people who they know will leverage the MBA to do great things. For 75% of the people we work with, defining their goals is one of the hardest parts of the process. It takes time, conversations, research and sometimes more than a little soul searching. We encourage you to start this process early. As a tip, we have most of our clients start by looking at the job placement reports for their target schools and looking at the LinkedIn profiles of people whose careers may interest them (co-workers, family friends, etc). Then we get much more methodical, but this preliminary research helps you to get a sense for the lay of the land.



As always, reach out for an [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]initial consultation[/url] if you are wondering what next steps should be for you.

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/02/10/five-things-you-can-be-doing-right-now/]Five Things You Can Be Doing Right Now[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Five Things You Can Be Doing Right Now   [#permalink] 10 Feb 2020, 03:01

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