Tag Archives: MBA

SBC Scoop: Last-Minute Community Service

When Ali started working with Stacy Blackman Consulting he had stellar undergraduate grades, an impressive GMAT score and consistently growing work experience at a prestigious investment bank. What Ali did not have was any significant …

When Ali started working with Stacy Blackman Consulting he had stellar undergraduate grades, an impressive GMAT score and consistently growing work experience at a prestigious investment bank. What Ali did not have was any significant extracurricular or community service experience since college. Though his consultant assured Ali that most investment bankers scarcely had time for extensive community service, she did believe it was worth his time to take on a leadership role that demonstrated his interest in helping others.

Ali and his consultant mined his background for relevant activities that would not seem abrupt if he became involved six months before his MBA applications. Other family members did have ties to several non-profit organizations, so Ali spoke with his father and sister about some of the work they had been involved in. After those discussions Ali decided to work on a fundraiser for an education non-profit his sister was passionate about. She was focused on helping girls in the Middle East obtain educational opportunities, and Ali felt passionate about the cause as well.

Together, they came up with an idea to have young professionals in New York sponsor a high school aged girl in a Middle Eastern country and mentor her in terms of possible career paths after her education. This idea helped Ali have significant involvement while leveraging his sister’s ties with the non-profit. Ali enlisted his friends and colleagues to recruit mentors, and launched the first year of the endeavor in early Spring before his applications.

In his MBA applications Ali was able to show that he raised a meaningful amount of money and recruited mentors for the program, which started its inaugural year with 6 mentor/mentee pairs. This activity, while low in time commitment for Ali, was high in impact and assisted him in his successful applications to Columbia, Duke, and HBS.

Contact us to learn more about how to round out your own MBA application story.

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SBC Scoop: HBS 2+2 Success for Economics Major

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.

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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.

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