What are My Chances? Latina Software Developer Moving to Marketing

This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendations as well as an evaluation of their qualifications. 
 
If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances

Profile #6: “Camilla” Latina software developer, plans a move to marketing

Need advice for writing about leadership in your application essays?

How have you inspired others to perform their best?

-Background & Work Experience: 29-year-old US citizen Latina with B.S. Comp. Sci. from a UC. Started out as developer at mid-tier financial software company, promoted to team lead of major account. Moved to startup that grew from 80 to 500 people and was acquired by giant e-retailer. Now working as a team lead in product management.

Well played. Looks like you’ve handled your cards well while riding the wave of growth in the tech industry. Right now you’re two of a kind. You’ve got hard skills as a developer, and it seems, you’ve got charisma. You not only kept your job in an acquisition, but you’ve been promoted several times. Not everyone is so lucky, or should I say, so savvy at securing a leg up when bought out, says the tech industry grapevine.

The adcom will want to know how you earned these promotions. In your resume and essays, really detail impact and leadership. Your resume bullet points should quantify what you accomplished on high profile projects. As you prep your essays, make a list of challenging projects and professional setbacks—especially dealing with dysfunctional teams. A huge part of marketing is managing creative personalities under huge amounts of pressure. How have you inspired others to perform their best?

-Short-term goal: Move outside product management into marketing.

As you’re switching functions, spend your essay real estate making the case for transition. Have you had any exposure to marketing through your experience in product management?  Let them know you’re not just jumping blind because you’re bored or dissatisfied. Have you participated in a marketing initiative at your company? What did you contribute, and what did you learn about marketing? What do you still need to learn?

-Long-term goal: Start tech marketing firm.

As stated above – you need to make the case for switching industries. Show you’ve done your homework by talking about conversations or research on the future of the industry.

-GMAT: 680

Not a good test taker? This is a little low. They could ding you on this if your GPA is also low. But on the upside, you are coming from an underrepresented minority. You also have a technical degree. Further, your work experience and promotions appear to speak for themselves.

-GPA: 3.62. 
First-generation college student. Supported self, and cared for ailing mother during college.

No problem with the GPA. This is really good, especially since you supported yourself and looked after your mother. It speaks to your time management and academic ability. Write about these mitigating factors in the optional essay if you had any semesters where you’re grades were a bit low.

-Extracurriculars:
 Due to family obligations, most of free time is spent with them. My brother was wounded in combat in Afghanistan, so as an extended family we are involved in the Wounded Warrior Project, supporting social events for veterans.

Don’t apologize! I would suggest writing about what you have done to help support your brother and other families through their recovery. Did you organize any activities, fundraising for families, or attend support groups? The details will show how this experience has shaped your outlook on service.

-Schools:

Stretch matches: Stanford, Kellogg, Wharton

On-par matches: Stern, Ross, UC Berkeley, UT McCombs, Duke, Darden

Safety matches: Purdue Krannert, Indiana Kelley
 
Final Note: As a woman, and a Latina – coming from an underrepresented minority in the hot tech industry – the adcom will be attracted to candidates who portray themselves not only as leaders, but also as pioneers. 

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Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

What are My Chances? African-American Politico Turned Energy Guy

This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendations as well as an evaluation of their qualifications.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances

Profile #5: “Kyle” African-American politico, turned energy guy

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Convince the adcom you’re the next big thing in clean energy.

-Background & Work Experience: 26-year-old African-American male graduate of top-tier Texas public university. Ran winning campaign of student body president. Worked on campaign of high-profile gubernatorial candidate (1 year), then transitioned to a Fortune 500 working in sales for energy saving performance contracts for cities and corporations (3 years).

What was that line from the latest season of House of Cards? “Power is better than money, until you’re out of power.” Looks like you were a savvy political operator, but lost the taste for it after losing a state race, or you’re facing some steep student loans and decided to take a high paying energy sector job? I could be wrong about both scenarios. If your hand was forced, by either a losing candidate or financial reasons, take heart – these can be good stories for overcoming an obstacle. Whatever the case, your leadership success undergrad and your current job in a trendy “green” slice of the energy sector make you stand out.

-Short-term goal: Energy consulting

Right on track. This goal makes sense with your past experience, and sounds plausible for your future. Do your research to find consulting companies who want people with your energy expertise. Make sure your b-school choices have good recruiting relationships with these firms.

-Long-term goal: Start-up in clean tech

Again, strong goal. Makes sense. After some time as a consultant, you could absolutely go on to work with, or finance clean tech start ups. The top schools, ie. H/S will want to see a sense of social impact with your goals. Keep that in mind if those schools are on your radar.

-GMAT: 710 GMAT (49Q/39V)

This is a good score – putting you in the top 10% of test takers. It’s a bit below average for the top echelon of schools, but with your experience – and if you interview well – it’s not worth retaking in my opinion.

-GPA: 2.5 (Double-major in Communications and Business Economics)

Yikes. This GPA is what I’m worried about for you. Looks like you were way more absorbed in your extracurricular achievements than in academics. This could cause some concern with the adcom. As a member of an under-represented minority, who has great leadership and a competitive GMAT, the schools may be willing to discount the GPA if you can provide context for your performance as an undergrad and evidence that it is not representative of your academic abilities. Your GMAT definitely helps, but a few recent A’s plus an optional essay about why your GPA is low are also necessary. Were there extenuating circumstances that caused you to miss classes, or did you just slack off? If so, what have you done since to show you have the intellectual bona fides to keep up with other b-school students?

-Extracurriculars: Last two years for Habitat for Humanity, including project with local green building architects to incorporate green design into homes; During college, heavily involved in campus politics and served as inter-fraternity Council President.

Your current extracurriculars line up nicely with your work interests and goals, creating a tidy package. It seems like you are a true leader, a people person. Talk that up in your essays – how you’ve been able to motivate others, create change, move organizations in positive directions. Make sure you communicate how your impact was vital.

-Schools:

Stretch matches: Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley

On-par matches: Yale, Michigan, NYU, UT, Duke

Safety matches: Rice, Texas A&M

Bottom Line: Check out some of the joint degrees offered by the schools above. Bonus if you can get it paid for (ie. scholarships). It never hurts to ask. You know how to get votes. Now convince the adcom/financial aid office you’re the next big thing in clean energy.

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Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

What Are My Chances? Midwestern Sales Guy with Start Up Ambition

This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendations as well as an evaluation of their qualifications.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances

Profile 4: “Matt” the do-gooder Midwestern sales guy, with start up ambition

Check out the rest of the What Are My Chances? series!

Don’t forget your hometown advantage.

-Background: 28-year-old white male from Midwest. Business major with 3.7 GPA from state university in Indiana. Scholarship cross-country runner and team captain.

Matt, you’re like a lot of biz grads in the U.S., perhaps a bit bored after a few years in the workforce. You see a long, slow road ahead if you settle for climbing the corporate ladder. You seem to want to test yourself and follow your dreams. What you’ll need to prove to the admissions committee is your unique worth—what you have to offer to the rest of the student body in terms of skill, knowledge, and drive.

What does set apart your undergrad experience is your strong extra-curricular as a scholarship cross-country runner while managing a very decent GPA. I’m sure your tenure as a team captain gives you several stories of leadership and teamwork. But college was a long time ago. Keep your application as much in the present as possible.

-Work Experience: Four years as account manager at rapidly-expanding B2B technology firm
 in Chicago. Managed a sales team of 20 people.

CFA level II candidate.

You’ve got solid work experience on an upward trajectory at a, likely, regional firm that’s respected within the industry, but not a Blue Chip brand on the national or international stage. It’s fantastic that you’ve managed a sales team of so many people—shows you’ve got to know how to motivate and delegate. Can you quantify the impact of your leadership?

On the other hand, I do wonder why you are pursuing your CFA. It doesn’t seem to mesh with your career path in sales, and I’m not sure a sales background would qualify you to become a charterholder. Perhaps it’s a side interest?

-Short-term goal: Found a tech startup in the software industry.

As an ad comm. member, I would have lots of questions about this goal. What is your idea, exactly? What kind of research have you done to show demand? As a sales guy, do you have the technical expertise needed, or do you already have partners in mind? Do you have any prior experience in start ups, or fundraising? You would need to connect the dots in the application.

-Long-term goal: Eventually move into private equity investing.

Ah, this is where the interest in the CFA likely comes in. If I were you, I would not reach so far with your long-term goal. If you’ve got a reasonable story to support entrepreneurship, stick with the long-term goal of growing your start up into a larger firm. Delving beyond that into private equity investing could be confusing to the ad comm.

-GMAT: 700 45 Q/40 V.

This is a pretty good GMAT, but the quant is a little low for the top echelon of schools. You may want to consider retaking if that’s your first try. A higher score would increase your competitiveness.

-Extracurriculars: 5x volunteer for Christian summer service group building schools and water projects in Ghana. Run twice-weekly youth program at church.

Wow, you’re a busy, faithful guy. These activities show long-term dedication and international reach. The ad comm. will want to see that you’ve moved up into leadership positions, and perhaps introduced some innovations to the projects.

 It’s important to show you have values, but don’t get too preachy. The ad comm. may hold a different belief system from you. Focus on how you may have helped communities, and even better, individuals to improve not so much by the transformative force of a higher power, but by smart, innovative leadership on your part.

-Schools:

Stretch matches: Kellogg, Booth

On-par matches: Michigan, CMU Tepper, Emory Goizueta, UT McCombs

Safety matches: Notre Dame Mendoza, Indiana Kelley

Final Note: Don’t forget your hometown advantage. You’ve done well in the Midwest, likely building up lots of respect and connections locally. You’d do well to tap into those by staying in the Midwest for b-school, and then through the connections you make, build out.

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

What Are My Chances? Adopted Vietnamese-American Teach for America Alum

This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendations as well as an evaluation of their qualifications.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances.

Profile 3: “Cecilia” Adopted Vietnamese-American Teach for America Alum

Tips for handling a low GMAT quant score.

The question will be: “Can she hang with the quants?”

-Background: 27-year-old adopted Vietnamese-American female. Learned English at the age of 5. Participated in state-level speech competitions, attended Ivy League (think Dartmouth, Cornell) as molecular biology major.

Normally I steer applicants away from discussing their pre-college years. But in your case, full steam ahead! Almost all schools will give you a chance to tell this story, whether in the regular set of essays or the optional essay. Focus on what you learned about yourself by going through the experience. How did it inform your future career choice, and the impact you desired to have on the world around you? Also, both Dartmouth and Cornell are feeder schools (not the top feeder schools, but definitely feeder schools) to top B-school programs such as Wharton, Harvard and Stanford.

-Work Experience:
 Teach for America alumna in Philadelphia. Taught for 3 years, Biology Team Lead, had 90% passing state exam, served as mentor to incoming TFA teacher. Currently working at in charter school network in New York as a recruitment coordinator. Grew applicant pool by 30% through both travel and online networking.

TFA is a great credential, as you’ve already been through a substantial vetting process and taken on a challenging, impact-driven career move. Most business schools have some sort of application waiver, deferral program, or major tuition break for TFA applicants. Some of the best packages are offered by Yale, Darden, UT McCombs and NYU. You likely haven’t been making huge money, so seriously consider schools with a good scholarship package so your debt won’t be so burdensome. I would think you’re a dynamic and persuasive speaker as a recruiter, so you’re well on you’re way to having that “executive presence.” The question will be: “Can she hang with the quants?” when it comes to the academics at top programs.

-Short-Term Goal: Work for management consulting firm (Deloitte, McKinsey, Bain) in human resources efficiency and recruitment.

Great goal in line with your past, making sense with your future. Do yourself a favor by researching now the recruitment rates for these companies from your set of schools. Talk to current students about the interview process for internships, and how best to angle yourself for this niche.

-Long-Term Goal: Start consulting firm intent on assisting for-profit companies and academic institutions to attract talent to economically struggling US cities.

Inspiring goal. As you are focused on a large geographic swath of the US in the future, think about how the “brand” of your future institution is respected, not only in the city where you anticipate taking up residence post-MBA, but also across the nation.

-GMAT: 680, 45 Q, 38 V

Your GMAT is not a W/H/S median score, which is floating right around 730. Those don’t have to be your only dream choices though, and may not be the best fit. Even so, your quant score is a bit low. You may want to think about retaking for a better shot at your stretch schools. Also show you have significant “quant-ability” through your GPA or on-the-job demands.

-GPA: Increased GPA each semester, from 2.5 freshman year to 3.8 last two semesters.

If low scores in core humanities courses, or a failed foray into classes like Sculpting 101 brought down your GPA, I wouldn’t worry too much. But if you did poorly in quant courses, you really should retake the GMAT.

-Extracurriculars:

- Mentoring inner city dance troupe

- Started foodie society mapping out monthly “restaurant crawl” meet-ups that now boasts +200 members with healthy online following, and average attendance of 20 per event.

Very cool extracurriculars. I expect these are your most current, and you left off those from college. What’s great is that you are still currently involved, and they show a sort of entrepreneurial leadership, and joie de vivre—you know how to work hard, and play hard.

-Schools:

Stretch matches: Stanford, Yale, NYU

On-par matches: Darden, Michigan, UT McCombs, Vanderbilt

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Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

What are My Chances? Multicultural LDS Goldman Sachs Operations Analyst

This blog post is part of a series of MBA profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?”  by Michelle Stockman. Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, will provide selected applicants with school recommendation as well as an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses.

If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances

PROFILE 2: “Simon,” the multicultural LDS Goldman Sachs operations analyst

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Tell your story clearly and show professional leadership.

-Background: 28-year-old male. Half Japanese, half American-Caucasian. Grew up primarily in California, and lived in Japan for about 8 years.

Flag for international! Questions you’ll want to answer: did your multi-cultural heritage play a large part in shaping your identity or give you skills that you’ve used to your advantage in your career thus far?

-GMAT: 710 (47Q /40V/6.0 AWA/8 IR)

Good. Your quant is a little low. You might consider retaking, but it may not be necessary if you can show “quant-ability” from undergrad classes or current work responsibilities.

-GPA: 3.43 GPA from Brigham Young University. BA in Japanese with a minor in business (3.79 major GPA).

An OK GPA from a respected, but non-Ivy private university. It’s a bit low for some top programs. An admissions officer will definitely want to examine your transcripts in more detail to understand the difficulty of your course load. A Japanese major is nothing to sniff at, but you DO come from a Japanese background and you lived there–twice. Did you take any quant heavy courses in undergrad?

Work History: 1+ years at Goldman Sachs as an operations analyst, and will have been promoted twice by matriculation. Prior to Goldman, spent 2.5 years at an HR consulting firm/corporate milestone and recognition award manufacturer and distributor. Worked in international operations managing client and vendor relations for Asia-Pacific countries.

International reach at the consulting firm and steady progress at one of the top feeder firms to b-schools. Seems solid. BUT, I’m still left wondering what you achieved professionally. From this description, it’s hard for me to tell if you led or managed a team or what type of impact you made. Did you identify an unexploited opportunity that led to a new revenue stream, fix an inefficiency that saved time or money, or seal a deal with international clients? When did you have the chance to show executive mettle?

-Extracurricular:

-Founded a non-profit in 2011 to help increase community awareness of childhood sexual abuse. Helped several victims in need of financial assistance and counseling. Awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Volunteer Recognition Award for work in the community.
- Mentor/instructor for Junior Achievement.
- Ambassador for the Trevor Project in my state. Regularly respond to LGBT teen’s questions regarding the struggles they face in everyday life.
- Avid marathon runner
- Served a two-year mission for the LDS church in Japan, appointed regional leader for one year overseeing 20 to 30 missionaries.

Wow. Really interesting extracurricular activities. Your mission adds to the “international” flavor of your background, but 1) it’s difficult to see impact on the greater world outside of your church from this experience, and 2) I don’t see how you have applied your intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and language to greater achievement professionally (although that could be made apparent in an essay or resume).

What does set you apart is that you have gone outside of the oft-perceived “insular” Mormon world to lend support to sexual abuse victims and the LGBT community, with recognized impact. This is especially interesting considering the tricky politics between the LDS church and the gay marriage movement. It shows sensitivity, independence, and risk. You will DEFINITELY want to write about this in your essays!

-Post MBA goals: Short-term – To transition from operations in the financial industry into an operations leadership role in the consumer products industry (Ideally a place like Nike).

Long-term – To become of the COO of a global consumer products company and use the business knowledge and experience I have gained to become an influential leader within the community especially with youth related organizations.

I like these goals as they are specific to function and industry, and make sense with your current position dealing in operations, interest in sports, and youth work. BUT, I wonder how dealing in consumer products connects to your past experience. Perhaps you can show how you led a team through numerous project cycles, and introduced innovations?

-Schools:

Stretch matches: Tuck, Haas, Kellogg, Sloan

On-par matches: Yale SOM, Darden, Ross, CMU Tepper, and Anderson

Safety: Indiana Kelley

The stretch schools are within range, but the competition will be stiff. You have to tell your story clearly and show professional leadership.

The on-par schools will meet your needs, providing you with a strong general management background and/or global perspective and preparation for a career in operations with the long-term goal of becoming a COO.

Overall, you’ve got an interesting profile that shows me you have the drive to make a difference. I’m left wondering, however, how you would manage teams and negotiate in a client-facing role. Those will be vital in leading operations at a company that drives consumer trends.







Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.