Many clients we work with at Stacy Blackman Consulting believe that they do not have any diversity in their background to share with the admissions committee. The truth is that even the most typical MBA candidate can find an aspect of his or her background that brings a new element to the school and fellow classmates.
Jim was a second generation Chinese-American applicant with a stellar academic background and several years of graduate school in Engineering. When we met to discuss Jim’s application strategy for Kellogg, Michigan and MIT he was convinced that he was a boring, typical candidate who was competing against every other academically oriented Chinese-American male. He was highly focused on improving his GMAT score (already a respectable 710) to make his candidacy more competitive.
Instead I suggested we think more about how Jim was different from his fellow applicants who looked the same on paper. We discussed Jim’s upbringing in Texas and the summers he spent working in the family food manufacturing business. As we discussed Jim’s summer jobs, he mentioned that he went to Hong Kong every summer during college and worked for his grandfather’s exporting business. While working he became fluent in Cantonese and built friendships with locals and expats in the city. At work he took on greater responsibility, including designing a more efficient packing system that saved the family business several thousand dollars per shipment.
Jim was surprised that I was interested in these college experiences because he dismissed them as “just helping the family business out.” I pointed out that most applicants would neither be fluent in Cantonese and English nor would have spent summers in college optimizing an international exporting business. Seen in that light, Jim agreed his experiences were worth writing about in an essay.
After exploring his own unique background along with communicating his additional post-college achievements, Jim gained admission to MIT.
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