Tag Archives: career goals

NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “we seek students with strong intellectual ability and superior interpersonal skills (IQ + EQ)” The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career …

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “we seek students with strong intellectual ability and superior interpersonal skills (IQ + EQ)” The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career aspirations, and personal characteristics. While your academics will be evaluated mainly through your GMAT and GPA, the essays are a crucial part of your application strategy.

NYU has traditionally required a personal expression essay, but this year allows you to choose between the options. Either essay will tie back to your fit with NYU Stern. Option A is a great choice if you want to discuss your drive and motivation, while Option B allows a more personal expression of who you are.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum)
Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Why MBA, why now, is an important question to answer. While many people seek the degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Perhaps you’re seeking an MBA for networking or professional credibility, or maybe you want an MBA to learn specific skills to change careers. Whatever your own personal reasons may be, make sure you can point to specific aspects of the MBA education both generally and specifically at Stern that are necessary to achieve your goals.

Note that this question specifically asks about your interest in pursuing an MBA at this point in your life. Why is now the right time for you, both personally and professionally? What will an MBA add to your already successful career trajectory to get you to the next level? If you are an older applicant you will need to spend time carefully communicating that you realize what an MBA can and can’t do for you at your professional level, and that you have a plan to leverage the MBA professionally in your next job.

This essay also offers an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with NYU Stern and describe why NYU Stern is the right place for you to spend the next two years of your life. Certainly personal experience of the campus through visits or student touch points would be ideal, but even if you are halfway around the world you can illustrate the many ways in which you learned about the NYU Stern experience.

The activities that most excite you academically should be logically related to your career goals explained in essay 1. The activities you are involved with might be professional, or could be personal hobbies or interests. This essay is your opportunity to describe who you are outside of work, and discussing the hobbies and extracurricular interests you have pursued thus far will be an important data point.

Your post MBA goal should be both achievable and demonstrate the need for an MBA. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you, and you should demonstrate that you are ready to take advantage of those opportunities. Think about a logical sequence that starts with your past work experience, then your MBA education and ends with your immediate post MBA goal. Ideally your goal pulls from both your current work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program.

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B

Option A: Your Two Paths (500 word maximum)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
What factors will most determine which path you will take?

Option A asks you to exercise a thought exercise about your future career goals. After identifying your immediate post-MBA career goal in Essay 1, where can you see your long-term career evolving? Again, both trajectories should be logical. For example, if you worked as an analyst in finance prior to your MBA, and plan to work in private equity post MBA, perhaps you see yourself as a partner in your PE firm as your first path, or operating a company as your second path. Each could unfold depending upon the choices you make or opportunities you see as you engage actively with your career.

The second part of this question asks you to tie both paths to the NYU Stern mission, which is to “develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society.” Almost any career goal can reflect this mission, though infusing an element of leadership into your plans can help maximize your impact beyond the career of one individual. Developing people who can transform challenges could multiply your impact and create tremendous value.

In the third section of the question you should consider all of the factors you might use as criteria to evaluate future career goals. This is a great time to consider what has motivated you in the past – do you thrive on achievement? Relish accomplishment of a difficult goal? Desire to help others? This question is one that demonstrates your ability to evaluate your own decision-making process, as well as revealing the values you hold most closely. Answer this question strategically to ensure you are intentionally revealing personal attributes that are most representative of your values and potential.

Option B: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

Open-ended essays like this one can be intimidating. You are allowed any method to introduce yourself to your classmates, and you’re probably wondering what the best medium for your message is.

However, your content is king in this essay. The best first step is to brainstorm the information you want to convey. Reflect upon your unique personal qualities and what is valued most by your friends and family. How would you want your classmates to see you? What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

Once you have established the content you want to use for the NYU Stern essay 3, it’s time to consider the medium. If you are a visual person you may chose a drawing, painting or photo series. If you are a creative writer perhaps it’s a poem or short story. If none of the “creative” approaches feel right to you, feel free to write a standard essay where you explain who you are and introduce yourself to your classmates. The medium is not the most important aspect of this essay, rather the message and content of your composition will demonstrate who you are to the admissions committee.

Essay 3. Additional Information (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.

NYU Stern provides the optional essay as an opportunity for you to explain a low GPA, GMAT or TOEFL. If you are in that situation, avoid excuses. Focus on the facts, and explain why this performance is not indicative of your future performance at NYU Stern.

If you are not submitting a recommendation from your current employer, this is the place to explain the situation. A few valid reasons may include a brief tenure working for your current boss, that you are not sharing your MBA plans with your supervisor, or that you work more closely with other members of the team.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped countless aspiring NYU Stern MBA students to showcase personal and professional stories that cut through the clutter. Contact us to learn more.

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Ask Yourself 4 Questions Before Applying to B-School

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com As a prospective MBA, you’ll benefit enormously from taking time at the beginning of your application process to contemplate the path you’re about to …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com

As a prospective MBA, you’ll benefit enormously from taking time at the beginning of your application process to contemplate the path you’re about to take. This is a great time to ask yourself critical questions, as self-evaluation and reflection are crucial to any MBA application journey. Setting aside some time for heavy thinking before you start writing your essays will prepare you for a solid and strategic application.

Question 1: What are your career goals? As you contemplate applying to MBA programs, the very first step in your self-evaluation process is to consider where you want to be in your career. Ask yourself what you would do if you didn’t need to work for money and what your core values are.

If your career goals are not immediately revealed, ask your friends and family what they see you doing. This process should reveal good ideas and a spark of passion for your career path.

If you are in a field where MBAs are not traditionally required, you may still benefit if your career goals include rising to senior management within your company or starting your own company. As a first step, look around at the people you most admire and want to be like within your target company or industry. Read their bios to see their skill set and educational background.

Talking to people who are pursuing your target career, at any level, is also a great way to understand what you need to do to accomplish your goals.

Question 2: Why do you want an MBA? While an MBA is a great experience, ultimately it’s a tool to advance your professional aims. The degree is highly focused on practical business applications, not intellectual curiosity.

Preferably when you answer the question of your career goals it will be clear why an MBA is the right degree for you. If your career path doesn’t immediately reveal the need for an MBA, yet you know you want one, you may want to delve into your motivations.

Consider your expectations for the degree and critically evaluate whether your hopes match the reality of an MBA program. If you know current MBA students or alumni, sounding them out first is a great way to start your research and make sure you are committed to the MBA application process.

Question 3: Is an MBA the right degree for you? Evaluating your professional goals might reveal that a different type of graduate degree would be useful.

Those interested in finance might also consider a master’s in finance, which typically prepares students more specifically for a career in corporate finance, financial analysis or investment management. That degree may prepare you to be the chief financial officer of a company, but may not be the ideal degree for a general manager or CEO.

If you’re interested in public policy work or managing in the nonprofit sector, you might look into a law degree, a master’s in public policy or master’s in public administration. On top of those options, you could pursue a joint J.D./MBA or a joint M.P.P./MBA or M.P.A./MBA.

While any one of these degrees can help you achieve your goals, you may want to consider the environment of each school, the academic focus, the time you will spend pursuing the degree and what works best for you personally.

Question 4: Are you competitive in the MBA applicant pool? As you think about entering an MBA program, you should be aware of the competitive pool of candidates who apply every year. Evaluate yourself against successful candidates to the schools you are considering.

The easiest first step is to see what the mean GMAT and GPA is for a successful applicant to your target programs.

If your “numbers” are much lower than the mean at your dream schools, you may want to consider taking classes to build an alternative transcript or retaking the GMAT. While no candidate is perfect, minimizing any red flags in your application will ensure that you have a strong chance at admission.

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SBC Scoop: Legally Admitted

Doug enlisted the help of his Stacy Blackman consultant when he started researching schools and realized very few successful MBA applicants had a similar legal background to his. Doug had attended a top law school …

Doug enlisted the help of his Stacy Blackman consultant when he started researching schools and realized very few successful MBA applicants had a similar legal background to his. Doug had attended a top law school immediately after graduation from a large state school. He was academically talented and had a strong GPA and great LSAT score. After law school he had worked at a large firm and became interested in mergers and acquisitions after working on several deals over the two years he practiced law. He decided to pursue an MBA to transition to the business side of the transactions, and was preparing for the GMAT when he started working with us.

Doug’s consultant took a close look at his undergrad transcript and advised Doug to take two or three quantitative classes to balance his political science major with pre-MBA prep. Doug found calculus, statistics and microeconomics classes online that he could balance with his demanding work schedule. The classes doubled as excellent preparation for the GMAT, and Doug was able to pull off a 710 in the first try.

With his academics in order, Doug and his consultant focused on the essays and recommendations. One concern about JDs, and anyone with advanced post-graduate degrees, is that the applicant is simply collecting credentials rather than focusing on accomplishment in the real world. In Doug’s case he had already done significant research and talked to successful M&A professionals both at large banks and in corporate finance positions at large companies. He determined that while a JD was extremely helpful to him, knowing the fundamentals of business and finance were crucial to accomplish his future goals. Doug and his consultant crafted a convincing narrative about his aspirations, and coached his recommenders to emphasize the utility of the MBA in Doug’s specific situation.

After all of his hard work, Doug was thrilled at acceptances from Columbia, Wharton and Duke.

Contact us to learn how your unique background can be an asset in the MBA application process.

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Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a …

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a crucial part of the Ross evaluation process and several questions in this essay set focus on your value to the Ross community. When you are approaching this set of essays, along with career goals and leadership experiences, think carefully about how you will best illustrate your fit with the Michigan MBA program.

Essay 1
Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.

Essay 2
Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 word maximum)

To keep this career goals essay concise and focused think about the high points that will provide the relevant context to your goals. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments?

When you describe your goals it will be important that they are both aspirational and credible. Because you are investing in an MBA from Michigan, you will want to show how your career goals warrant the time and money you will spend. A promotion to the next level is not enough of a reason to spend two years at the Michigan MBA program, but perhaps your goal to run the company one day is. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years, and then describe any other sub-goals that will help you get there. Ross is an important part of the equation, and some portion of the essay should focus on coursework, clubs and people who may help you achieve your goals while at Ross.

Essay 3
Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (500 word maximum)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?

The second part of the question asks what you would advise a colleague in a similar situation, which is just another way to ask you what you learned. Think about the lessons you have taken from this challenge and may have applied since. Perspective and clarity about the frustration or disappointment will demonstrate maturity and self-awareness.

Essay 4
What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross (300 word maximum)

Since you have only 300 words to discuss both your passion and how you will bring your passions to Ross, you may want to focus on one aspect of your personal, professional or extracurricular life that really excites you.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what most excites you when you go about your day to day life. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your passions.

Having done your research on Michigan MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about how you will positively impact Ross with your passion. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Michigan MBA and might be in your area of interest. This question seeks to understand your unique value as a member of the community. Can you share your career expertise? Your network? Personal hobbies or skills? Think again about what you would want from a future classmate and apply that filter to your specific passion.

Optional Essay
Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA Essay Tips

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. …

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart from its competitors. INSEAD has released the essay questions for this year’s application, right before the deadlines for the January intake. When you approach this set of essays, make sure you are ready to explain your career plans in detail, and highlight any International experiences in your background.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. While most MBA programs combine all aspects of your career goals trajectory into one essay, INSEAD provides three separate opportunities to discuss your current job, past experiences and future goals. Though career is covered in three essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Job Description Essays
1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/ products and results achieved. (250 words maximum)

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words maximum)

This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words maximum)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words maximum)

Similar to the HBS question, this is an opportunity to describe two of your most important accomplishments. While impressive accomplishments are great and will certainly enhance your overall application, you should pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

Note that INSEAD prefers to see both the personal and professional in this essay. This is your first opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words maximum)

The classic mistake essay seeks to understand how you handle failure and learn from challenging situations. The most important aspect of this essay is to demonstrate that you are able to learn and grow as a result of your failure. Everyone fails; it’s how you react that determines your effectiveness in an organization and in achieving your own personal goals.

A strong essay will include a clear and concise description of the situation. Describe your failure quickly and avoid any lengthy backstory. Your failure should have stakes for you ”“ was it embarrassing? Did it set your career or school pursuits back? Establish why you considered the situation a failure in your life. Once you have defined the failure you can devote most of the essay to discussing your reaction and what you learned. Demonstrating that you learned something from the situation is crucial to demonstrating self-awareness and emotional intelligence. If you have the room, either applying your lesson learned to a current situation or a subsequent experience would be an excellent way to wrap up the essay.

You are provided the freedom to pull examples from multiple areas, and this is an opportunity to demonstrate another side of you that has not been explored in the previous personal or career essays.

4. a) Discuss your short and long term career goals. (300 words maximum) and b) How will studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words maximum)

This essay is a continuation of the first two essay questions. Here you should make a case for why an MBA is the appropriate next step in your career and life, and why INSEAD is the right place to do it. You already laid the groundwork on where you have been in essay 2, and where you are right now in essay 1, and this essay is a continuation of your overall career trajectory. Consider what you said about your next position in career essay 2, and how INSEAD will enhance your future career.

INSEAD seeks MBA candidates with a range of experiences and the school wants to clearly know why you are seeking an MBA. Your future career goals should flow logically from where you have been in your career and your education at INSEAD. If you are confident about where you are going the admissions committee will be confident about your ability to take advantage of the unique MBA experience.

5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum)
b) Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words maximum)

Both of these essay choices seek a response that will demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your home country. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. Either one of these essays offers an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had, whether while traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing foreigners within your home country. You will want to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, but also an awareness of the real cultural differences between people and nationalities.

Culture shock can be a result of visiting or living in a new country, an unfamiliar group of people, or even a novel situation. Because INSEAD is such an international community it would be best to use this opportunity to discuss your awareness of other cultures and people. Choose an example that is easy to understand, and then spend some time explaining why you felt the culture shock and what it signified to you.

Option b allows you to act as host in your own country, describing the customs and challenges that may await a foreign visitor. This essay can demonstrate your skills of observation and empathy as you step into a stranger’s shoes and evaluate your own culture and values.

Whether you choose option a or b, it will be important to make sure you are highlighting your ability to conduct business across cultures. A highly international program like INSEAD will want to see demonstrated international savvy in any successful candidate.

6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words maximum) This section is optional.

This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

7. In case of reapplication, please provide an update on any new aspects of your professional, international, academic or personal profile that would not have been included in your previous application. Please also explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. (400 words maximum)

For your reapplication to INSEAD, you should outline the changes in your profile that support your renewed candidacy. The most successful applicants will provide tangible evidence of improvement. Aspects like GMAT score or new quantitative classes as especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure to reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

Struggling with your INSEAD application? You can still make the upcoming deadlines ”“ contact us to start the process of partnering with Stacy Blackman Consulting.

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SBC Scoop: Making the Family Business Work For You

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client. Our client Bill came to us wondering if his atypical background would hurt his chances …

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

Our client Bill came to us wondering if his atypical background would hurt his chances when applying to MBA programs. He had been working for the family business, a manufacturing company in Baltimore, for three years out of college. He worried that when compared to the many applicants coming from consulting or financial backgrounds, his story might not measure up. His consultant assured him that coming from a family business might in fact help him stand out, so long as they addressed a couple of specific concerns.

Bill hadn’t been planning to go into the family business in college, so he majored in philosophy, but when his father passed away unexpectedly he stepped in to help run the business alongside his aunt and uncle, who were partners in the company. He found he loved working in the company and his interest in entrepreneurship and the wider business world was sparked. Fortunately, since Bill was helping partly with the firm’s accounting, he was already taking math and accounting classes at night, which helped show off his quantitative skills. His consultant advised him to study and retake the GMAT to shore up his quantitative score, which he did as well.

That done, they turned their attention to his recommendations. Bill was most concerned here, since most of his coworkers and supervisors were his relatives. Bill and his consultant brainstormed some ideas for recommenders they could approach outside the company. In the last year, Bill had built a strong relationship with a retail vendor that had been supplied by his company for over a decade. Since this vendor was evaluating Bill on many similar criteria to a direct supervisor and was an objective, outside source, they thought it would be a good fit. Bill’s vendor was happy to help out.

Bill’s consultant also found out that he volunteered as an tutor for adult ESL students most weekends. Bill had started years ago and included it as a line in his resume, but assumed because it wasn’t a private business pursuit that it wouldn’t factor into his application. His consultant thought differently, though, and reminded him that long-term volunteering showed dedication and a greater social awareness. The program’s organizer was happy to help Bill out with a recommendation.

Bill felt confident that his family business-based app could stand up next to candidates coming from a corporate background, and he was right- he was admitted to Tuck and Darden and chose Darden to a be a little closer to home.

Are you wondering how to make your unique profile work in your MBA application? Contact us to learn more about Stacy Blackman Consulting services.

Are you more concerned about other aspects of your profile? Read our case studies to see how other applicants approached their MBA applications.

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