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 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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