Tag Archives: HBS
June 4, 2013
Anita was a college senior at Northwestern and was weighing her postgraduate options. She thought Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program was perfect for her, as she would get two years of real-world work experience before …
Anita was a college senior at Northwestern and was weighing her postgraduate options. She thought Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program was perfect for her, as she would get two years of real-world work experience before returning for a two year program. Anita worked with her Stacy Blackman consultant to make sure she presented herself in the best light, as she thought she might not look like the best fit for this relatively new program on paper.
What worried Anita the most was that she was actually a natural fit for an MBA program. With a strong academic resume, a good GMAT score and a soon-to-be-complete degree in economics, she would be a strong candidate for any traditional MBA program after gaining a few years of work experience. However, Anita was concerned that the HBS 2+2 program was focused on attracting non-traditional MBA students, such as science and mathematics majors, or students who would normally pursue other types of postgraduate degrees. Anita’s consultant directed her to look at some of the program’s recent admission statistics: while the current class was nearly two-thirds students with a STEM background, almost twenty percent came from more traditional economics and business backgrounds. The program’s website also specifically mentioned that students from all undergraduate majors were now encouraged to apply.
Anita knew that she would be competing with other students with great numbers as well, so she and her consultant chose to emphasize her leadership experiences. Anita enjoyed long-distance running, and in college had gathered a casual group that would work out on weekends. Anita had convinced them to raise money for charity by entering various events, and after several successful runs joined up as a local chapter of a national charity running organization. In addition, Anita and her consultant found a narrative through her background of “leading younger people” that ran from Anita’s time as a Girl Scout leader, through her Big Sister mentorship, to her Resident Advisor and Orientation Leader positions as a junior and senior. While they emphasized the “business” qualities of Anita’s charitable marathon group, including fundraising and organization, her other leadership experiences testified to her character as well.
By combining Anita’s leadership qualities with her more traditionally MBA-style background, and touching on how the HBS 2+2 program would help shape Anita’s future in the business world, she and her consultant felt confident in her application. Anita is working for a tech startup now and looking forward to the second half of her 2+2.
Are you applying to the HBS 2+2 program? We have experience positioning applicants like you for success ”“ contact us to discuss further.
January 2, 2013
Quite a bit, according to an open letter published last week by Ryan Allis ’14 as he reflected on his first semester for the Harvard Business School Class of 2015 pre-matriculation blog. Like any top-tier …
Quite a bit, according to an open letter published last week by Ryan Allis ’14 as he reflected on his first semester for the Harvard Business School Class of 2015 pre-matriculation blog. Like any top-tier MBA program, HBS students learn finance, marketing, operations and the like. But Allis says he’s taken away much more than that over the last four months.
For example, Harvard Business School:
- Teaches you a deeply analytical thinking process critical to making high quality decisions and becoming a transformational leader.
- Enables you to build a team or find a team of superstars to go after any big world challenge that you wish.
- Gives you constant psychological reinforcement and mentors that enable you to refine and then actually execute on your dreams to make a difference.
In just one semester, Allis says his thinking process and decision-making ability has been refined, because “HBS teaches you to see one problem from ninety angles”“equal to the number of classmates in your first year section with whom you’ll take each class and form meaningful lifelong bonds.”
Also, HBS changes the caliber of the people in your life as you build lifelong ties with highly competent people who want to make a big difference in the world. Allis adds that this greatly expands the frontier of opportunities available to you and your ability to find leverage points to influence the world.
Thirdly, Allis believes Harvard Business School can help you use your life to make a bigger difference in the world. “Whether or not you already have your life dreams mapped out,” Allis says, “HBS provides the landscape for wide-ranging exploration and reflection and the support to go in any direction you wish.”
Finally, this first-year student is amazed at the psychological value and self-fulfilling prophecy of being around people who assume you’re going to do something special in the world. “If you crave the combination of an inspiring environment with access to the people who can help you do anything you set your mind to,” says Allis, “You’ll love your time at HBS.”
September 21, 2012
Don’t try to stand out, do make sure you understand—and are excited about—the case method approach to learning, and stay curious are three of the main pieces of advice Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold offers …
Don’t try to stand out, do make sure you understand—and are excited about—the case method approach to learning, and stay curious are three of the main pieces of advice Harvard Business School’s Dee Leopold offers applicants in a recent post on her director’s blog.
While some candidates may feel deflated after reading her remarks, fearing they might have to switch strategies mid-stream, Leopold’s tips benefit anyone applying to Harvard and other case method-based MBA programs.
“Try to resist the urge to make “standing out” your primary goal in the admissions process. If you have made traditional choices all along (college, extra-curriculars, major field of study, jobs), own it. You’ll look silly if you try to portray yourself as a rogue daredevil. There are plenty of people at HBS who come from traditional backgrounds.”
I would add that excellence comes in many different packages, and sometimes small examples can brilliantly illustrate your distinctive contributions. Avoid any attempt to manufacture a memorable impression and instead focus on relaying with enthusiasm your own unique accomplishments and interests. You’re not being asked to talk about yourself for any other reason than to help a school learn why you made the choices you did. What those choices were is hardly relevant.
“Do your homework about the case method. It’s our signature pedagogy and it is nothing like traditional academia. Watch Inside the Case Method on our website and ask yourself if you find this method of learning intriguing and exciting. If it’s not for you, choose another school now vs. later.”
The Case Method approach is a proven winner because it brings the subject to life, brings business back to reality, and allows you to benefit from the professional experiences of a diverse group of classmates. However, this method may not be for everyone. Other top programs, such as Chicago Booth School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, Yale School of Management and more rely on a broader mix of teaching methods.
“Stay curious. It’s so easy to stay “heads down” during the application process and become so introspective that you lose sight of the larger world. Keep reading. Keep listening. We’re looking for people who can dig into a case about a company they have never heard of, in an industry they don’t think they care about – and be 100% engaged.”
I like to remind applicants to stay connected to the bigger picture ”“ remember what this process is all about. Ultimately it is not about submitting a set of essays. It is not even about getting in to X school. It is about your future, your career, creating opportunities for yourself. Tap into all the things in life that inspire you; this will help you to make things happen.
September 17, 2012
For anyone planning to apply to Harvard Business School this year, director of admissions and financial aid Dee Leopold recently offered a roundup of answers to common questions she’s been hearing from Round 1 applicants. …
For anyone planning to apply to Harvard Business School this year, director of admissions and financial aid Dee Leopold recently offered a roundup of answers to common questions she’s been hearing from Round 1 applicants.
Although some candidates may be tempted to submit a lengthy resume to counterbalance the recently reduced number of essays in the Harvard Business School application, Leopold cautions that a one-page resume is still a good guideline. Also, do not submit anything extra with your application. Period.
Don’t forget to manage the recommender process! Applicants must input their recommenders’ names and contact information before the application deadline, the director stresses, since that’s the only way they will be able to access the recommender form.
We all know business school is expensive, so if you are interested in applying for financial aid, sit tight for now because all need-based financial aid information goes out only to admitted students.
The online scheduler for first-year class visits opened today but the slots are filling up fast, so head on over to set up your appointment to visit a class and learn more about the HBS case method.
Have you started on those essays yet? This year’s questions are a strong departure from previous years, specifically in the number and length of the essays. Read our MBA essay tips for Harvard Business School for guidance on how to approach this essay set.
June 14, 2012
*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.
Our client Todd came to us as a college senior at MIT, with a computer science major and a successful angel funded start-up in his background. While Todd’s experience seemed like the ideal fit to start a career in Silicon Valley, Todd was more interested in developing his general management skills. Todd had learned about the Harvard 2+2 program that accepts college seniors into the HBS MBA program and allows them to work for two years prior to matriculating.
Todd wanted to continue his graduate studies, and also decided to apply for a PhD program in engineering as well as trying for the HBS 2+2 program. We knew that Harvard was specifically interested in candidates like Todd who have many academic options and are focused on continuing their education. Since MBA applicants typically have two or more years of experience before applying, many high potential college seniors decide to focus on law, medicine or other grad programs.
Todd had both impressive academics and a history of mentoring at-risk youth. Because of a difficult family upbringing, Todd was sympathetic to kids who needed someone to support them in their goals. He was highly focused on giving back, which is a trait that HBS values.
Todd needed help approaching his HBS 2+2 application because MBA programs value different attributes than a purely academic program like a PhD. We helped Todd identify some of his key leadership qualities, like working on a team to put together his business plan and volunteering.
In approaching Todd’s application strategy we took all of these great leadership attributes, combined with his academic success, and made a compelling case for this future as a business leader. By highlighting his specific experiences as a leader in his startup competition team, we showed that Todd had excellent interpersonal skills tied with exceptional intellectual and analytical skills. The overall package was an ideal fit for HBS 2+2, and Todd is excited to start the program next fall after an enriching two years working at a large technology firm.
Are you applying to the HBS 2+2 program? We have experience positioning applicants like you for success ”“ contact us to discuss further.
To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE
May 29, 2012
The essay questions and deadlines for Harvard Business School’s class of 2015 are now posted online on the HBS admissions website along with the questions for recommenders. This year’s essay questions are a strong departure …
The essay questions and deadlines for Harvard Business School’s class of 2015 are now posted online on the HBS admissions website along with the questions for recommenders. This year’s essay questions are a strong departure from previous years, specifically in the number and length of the essays.
At Stacy Blackman Consulting we always take a holistic approach to our clients’ MBA admissions process, and this approach will be especially well suited for the application changes this year.
As you approach the HBS application you will need to think about more than just the essay questions ”“ make sure your resume is a compelling view of your career path, your recommenders are providing specific examples of your management potential and leadership qualities, and approach the two essay questions as opportunities to showcase who you are and what motivates you. The final essay, written in 24 hours after your interview, should fit in holistically with the rest of your application. A thorough self assessment of your strengths and weaknesses will be an asset as you approach this essay set.
The limited word count for Harvard Business School essays forces applicants to be focused and concise. When you answer a question, think about a discrete example that can be efficiently described, leaving you room to discuss lessons learned.
Harvard Business School is interested in knowing how you work as a person, how you think, and what kind of leader you are. Community involvement and a broad international perspective are certainly valued. Most importantly, specific and concise examples are the best way to demonstrate who you are. Without specifics, a claim to be a leader is empty.
Essay 1: Tell us about something you did well. (400 words)
Similar to the “three accomplishments” essay prompt of prior years, this is your opportunity to highlight one of your most impressive accomplishments. When you think about the ideal topic for this question make sure you are pulling from all aspects of your life, not just work. If you have an impressive accomplishment in a volunteer or extracurricular activity, this could be an opportunity to showcase both the accomplishment and your commitment to the activity.
While an incredibly impressive accomplishment may seem important to this question, it’s actually better to show the moments where you grew, changed or realized something crucial about yourself. If you were an Olympic gold medalist yet this objectively impressive accomplishment wasn’t meaningful in your life, it has far less impact in an MBA application. Even a seemingly humble accomplishment can be illuminated with your own reflection.
That being said, this is also an opportunity to “brag” about a key achievement, and it should be something that you are proud of not only because of the result but also the process. Make sure you provide detailed information about your own individual contribution to the achievement to highlight your ability to lead and achieve through your direct efforts.
Essay 2: Tell us about something you wish you had done better. (400 words)
In past years HBS has required an essay about a mistake. This essay is similar and asks you to consider situations that did not turn out as you wanted.
As you think about a triumph in your life in essay 1, essay 2 leads you to consider a challenge. As you consider how to approach this question, make sure you evaluate how you were able to move past and overcome the situation. Leadership can be effectively formed through difficulty (often referred to as “crucibles”) and HBS is interested in your own personal reaction to setbacks. Are you someone who can effectively navigate disappointment? How do you react when challenged? Are you able to learn from experience?
As you recount the situation that you wish had gone better, it will be crucial to demonstrate what you have learned. Think about why you selected this specific experience and what change and growth resulted from the situation. This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, flexibility and leadership qualities.
New this year is the opportunity to “have the last word” in your HBS application. If you are invited for an interview you will be asked to submit an essay quickly afterwards. HBS is selective in the interview process and does not conduct interviews “blind.” Therefore, you will likely have a detailed opportunity to talk about your specific situation in the interview and also in the written reflection.
Following the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection using our online application system. This must be submitted within 24 hours following the completion of the interview. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.
This essay is your opportunity to leave a positive impression with the admissions committee and you should take full advantage to accomplish that goal.
This essay is designed to give you an opportunity to provide all relevant information, even after you have submitted your application and conducted an in-depth interview. At that point you may feel like you have contributed everything you can to the application process. Therefore, it will be useful to think about how you will approach this essay before you are even invited for the interview.
Before you select a topic for this question refer to your application strategy and list of strengths and weaknesses. Did you cover your key professional experiences? What have you demonstrated about leadership? If you have not addressed important extracurricular or volunteer activities or a story from your background that illuminates your interest in HBS and potential contribution to the class, this is the ideal space to provide that information.
If you have an outline of what you are likely to write in this essay it will make it much easier to submit a coherent and self-aware essay in 24 hours. Then you can tailor the final essay to incorporate your perception of the interview and any thoughts about areas you could have illuminated further. Overall, the entire application should formulate a holistic view of you and your fit with HBS.