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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, 14:02
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, 07:02
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, 20:59
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, 11:02
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, 14:01
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, 14:02
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, 15:02
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, 11:02
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, 12:02
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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https://vantagepointmba.com/
Your Personal MBA Application Experts
Contact us for a Free Consultation!
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Want to Show That You’re a Leader? Try Being Vulnerable   [#permalink] 23 Apr 2019, 12:02

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