Tag Archives: MBA

Tuesday Tips: UVA Darden MBA Essay Tips

Continuing the trend started last year, UVA Darden again asks candidates to answer only one essay question. While you only have to write 500 words, you have to make those words count. Leadership is crucial …

Continuing the trend started last year, UVA Darden again asks candidates to answer only one essay question. While you only have to write 500 words, you have to make those words count. Leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. Personal qualities are also crucial to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community. Learn more about the school by visiting the Darden website, attending events and speaking with current students and alumni.

MBA Application Essay Question:
Share your thought process as you encountered a challenging work situation or complex problem. How did this experience change your perspective? (500 words maximum)

In this question Darden is asking to understand how you behave in a challenging or complex situation and what such challenges have taught you about yourself. The best use of this essay space will use specific examples to illustrate how you handled the challenge or problem and how you arrived at your change in perspective.

Before you start answering the question it may help to brainstorm some of your best professional accomplishment stories. As you think about the areas where you have excelled you may find that many of your accomplishments were preceded by a challenge or problem you needed to solve.

Once you have a list of all of the potential experiences to discuss, choose the examples that will also demonstrate some of your personal qualities to the admissions committee. You have your career history submitted in your resume and your GPA, transcript and GMAT to demonstrate academic ability. This essay is one of your few opportunities to show how you think, what your leadership approach is, and how you handle teamwork and conflict. Think about the situations that showcased your best performance at work, or that were a turning point in your approach to problem solving.

Because you have only one essay question to present yourself, make sure you have a trusted reader to tell you if you are effectively communicating why you are going to be a strong leader who deserves a spot in the UVA Darden MBA class.

Looking for perspective in your approach to your Darden MBA application? Contact us to discuss how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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UNC Kenan-Flagler Opens MBA@UNC to Alumni

MBA alumni at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School now have the opportunity to enroll in classes in the new online program, MBA@UNC, the school announced last week. Launched in July 2011, MBA@UNC …

MBA alumni at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School now have the opportunity to enroll in classes in the new online program, MBA@UNC, the school announced last week. Launched in July 2011, MBA@UNC is designed for working professionals who want to earn their MBA from a top-ranked business school and value the flexibility of an online program.

“Our alumni can continue their MBA education from wherever they are in the world,” says Susan Cates, MBA@UNC executive director. “Courses are taught by top professors, some of whom alumni learned from when they were in Chapel Hill and others who joined UNC Kenan-Flagler after they graduated.”

“We expect that the classes will appeal to alumni who want to update their skills, need to broaden their knowledge as they change functions, or work in rapidly changing fields,” says Cates.

Alumni will enroll for a quarter, take a course for a grade (they may not audit) and receive credit on their transcripts. They will pay $800 for each course to cover the costs of software licensing support, technical support, textbooks and course materials.

They will attend classes along with current students, and do all of the work ”“ readings, projects and exams.  Alumni of any UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA program can take any MBA@UNC course that is being offered during the quarter.

MBA alumni may register this summer for classes that begin in October and end in December.

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SBC Scoop: Supplemental Recommendations

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client. As you think about every possible way to strengthen your MBA application, you might be …

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

As you think about every possible way to strengthen your MBA application, you might be considering asking an influential person in your life to submit a supplemental recommendation. A supplemental recommendation is typically an informal letter, email or call from a mentor of yours who is associated with your target school. This strategy rarely hurts, and it may help. In our experience, however, a supplemental recommendation will never improve a marginal application.

Jerry was a Stacy Blackman Consulting client applying to a highly competitive selection of schools ”“ HBS, Wharton and Stanford. With an impressive resume and significant career progression at an energy firm, Jerry had several influential mentors. In fact, Jerry had a mentor who had attended each of his target MBA schools.

As we formulated Jerry’s overall application strategy and discussed his recommender selection, he raised the idea of having his mentors write supplemental recommendations for him. We discussed each situation and decided on a course of action.

Jerry’s three mentors had the following circumstances:

1. Lisa ”“ A Harvard MBA with ten years of post MBA experience at Jerry’s firm, Lisa was his former supervisor and knew his work extremely well. Lisa was a volunteer with her local HBS alumni group and retained some relationships at the school.
2. Seth ”“ The SVP of Jerry’s department was a Stanford grad with sixteen years of post-MBA experience. He donated a significant amount of money to the school and his daughter was currently a freshman at the university.
3. Vipul ”“ A graduate of the Wharton EMBA program, Vipul had gotten to know the director of admissions at Wharton fairly well, and had close ties to professors and the local alumni group.

We knew that Wharton was the most receptive to community endorsements of the three schools, and decided to ask Vipul to write a letter and submit it through those official channels. Seth’s deep connections to Stanford could be an asset to Jerry’s application, but we decided to ask him to call a former professor and talk to him about Jerry. Finally, because HBS requires three recommendations and Lisa wasn’t sure how to put in an informal endorsement, Jerry asked her to write his third HBS reference letter.

Jerry was ultimately admitted to Wharton and HBS. Though we couldn’t determine whether the supplemental recommendation made a significant difference in his application, Jerry approached the idea strategically and was ultimately successful.

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SBC Scoop: Leveraging Extracurriculars for Leadership

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client. In this tough global economy promotions can be hard to come by. To show leadership …

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

In this tough global economy promotions can be hard to come by. To show leadership without clear career progression, look to your extracurricular activities. If you have been involved in an activity as a member, think about taking on a leadership role. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you can run a project and motivate a team.

Our client George was concerned that he had no demonstrated title changes through his four years at a defense contracting company. Because he worked in an engineering function increase in responsibility was marked by a raise instead of a title increase. George was concerned that though he was well respected at work and had demonstrated increasing skills over time, there was nothing he could indicate on his resume. To address this deficit in proof of his leadership, we took a look at what George did outside of work to see if there was an opportunity for greater leadership.

George had been involved in an annual charity bike ride for the past five years. He was dedicated to the mission of the organization, which raised money to provide medical care for autistic children. George had a personal connection to the organization because his younger brother had autism. It seemed like the right fit for George to become more involved. We suggested that he volunteer to lead the coordination of the next ride. George stepped up to manage the next event. His responsibilities included the recruitment of volunteers to assist the day of and coordination of the vendors and collection of funds. George’s leadership of the team ultimately helped to increase the amount raised in the ride by 14%.

With this experience George was able to write a strong leadership essay for each of his target schools. Along with his strong academics, career skills, and recommendations this demonstration of leadership helped him gain admission to MIT Sloan.

Posted in SBC Scoop: Client Case Studies | Tagged , , , , ,

SBC Scoop: MBA Application Round 1 or Round 2?

Maybe you think you’re too old, or too young for an MBA. Maybe you need more extracurricular activities or to increase your quant skills. Or maybe the stars are aligned and you are ready to …

Maybe you think you’re too old, or too young for an MBA. Maybe you need more extracurricular activities or to increase your quant skills. Or maybe the stars are aligned and you are ready to apply this year for entry in Fall 2012. Regardless of your situation, if you’re starting your application now one of your first decisions is whether to try for Round 1 deadlines or aim for Round 2.

Michael was working with one of our experienced consultants on his Stanford and HBS applications, and I was asked to take a look at his essays and provide a second opinion with approximately two weeks left before his Round One deadlines (learn more about the SBC process). Michael had several great stories about his achievements at work, his unique family background, and his extensive volunteer activities. He had a lot of great raw material in his essays, but needed a bit more work on polish. After conferring with Michael’s primary consultant we decided that though Michael strongly preferred to apply in Round 1, our professional advice was to apply in Round 2.

If you can apply in Round 1 there are definitely advantages for you personally. You have more time to prepare for school. You have less uncertainty around winter vacation time. And you can start networking with your classmates early. If you have a solid application ready to submit in October it’s an excellent time to do so. One advantage we don’t necessarily see is an increase in your chances of admission. It’s true that less people are ready to apply in Round 1. At the same time, the most prepared applicants are applying in Round 1. These are the people who beat the GMAT months ago and have been prepping their recommenders all summer. Or, they might be reapplicants who have already been through the process once. In our experience these factors tend to balance themselves out, and so we advise that our clients apply in the round that allows them to put together their best possible application.

Michael took our advice and spent another three weeks polishing his essays and preparing his recommenders to write great letters for him. The extra preparation paid off when he was admitted to HBS in Round 2.

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

To read more SBC Case Studies, click HERE.

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Tuesday Tips: Cornell Johnson MBA Essay Tips

Essay questions and deadlines are posted for the Johnson MBA program at Cornell. According to the Cornell MBA admissions committee they are seeking “individuals who demonstrate academic achievements, high-quality experience, leadership potential, decision-making abilities, and …

Essay questions and deadlines are posted for the Johnson MBA program at Cornell. According to the Cornell MBA admissions committee they are seeking “individuals who demonstrate academic achievements, high-quality experience, leadership potential, decision-making abilities, and outstanding interpersonal and communication skills.”

Cornell MBA’s relatively short essay set is a strong opportunity to focus your application strategy and demonstrate your personal qualities, goals and fit with the Johnson School. Career goals, a creative essay and an essay focused on your fit with Cornell allow you to show many aspects of your background and personality.

1) What career do you plan to pursue upon completion of an MBA degree and why?
This standard career goals essay requires you to demonstrate that your Cornell MBA will be the right next step to achieve your career goals. While short- and long-term goals are not explicitly requested, you may want to describe how you view your career unfolding from graduation to achievement of your ultimate goal.

Since your past experiences are likely indicators of where you are headed in the future, you may briefly outline key aspects of your career history. The question does not specifically require career history, so you have the flexibility to choose key inflection points rather than an entire resume review. When considering what aspects of your past career to focus on, think about the situations that led you to realize what you really want to do, that built skills that will be important to your goals, or introduced you to people who were crucial to your development.

Make sure to spend enough time on your interest in the Cornell MBA to demonstrate why Cornell is the right place to spend the next two years of your life. Academics are going to be a crucial part of your career goals, yet classmates and activities will also be important.

2) You are the author for the book of Your Life Story. Please write the table of contents for the book. Note: Approach this essay with your unique style. We value creativity and authenticity.
This essay is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are on a personal level. Think about highlighting areas you may not have been able to touch in the first essay, which was focused on your professional life. You can use this opportunity to demonstrate your unique personal attributes or community involvement. If you have a consistent theme of involvement in a charity or activity this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why you became involved and what you have done over the years.

When structuring the story, think of this essay as a way to communicate a narrative theme of your life to the admissions committee. What are the key moments that are meaningful to you? Were there key stories involving your friends, family, hobbies or interests that impacted the person you are now?

Though the essay specifically asks for the Table of Contents, you can certainly illuminate each chapter through brief descriptions. Describe the major milestones and be sure to share your essay with friends and family to make sure you are communicating effectively though the creative exercise.

3) What legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson graduate?
Essay three is all about fit. As elaborated upon in the Cornell Admissions blog, “’Fit’ is different for everyone, so we want to see how authentic and purposeful you are about applying.”

This essay requires you to research Johnson thoroughly. You should be aware of the major academic, extracurricular and social components of the MBA program and think seriously about what you want to leave behind when you graduate. Perhaps you want to start a club or a conference. Maybe you aspire to help a professor with her research. Or you will return to the school to be a panelist or mentor. Think both about what you have to offer, and what Cornell needs.

Research on your own is a great first step, but the personal approach may pay more dividends in this essay. Think about networking with current students or alumni, visiting campus, and attending information sessions. If you are able to talk to a current student or alum about your essay topic you might gain valuable feedback on the direction you will take with your legacy.

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