What Are My Chances? Research Analyst Interested in Luxury Corporate Strategy

This blog post is part of a series of MBA profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?”  by Michelle Stockman. For this series Michelle, who started consulting for Accepted in 2007 and worked previously in the Columbia Business School admissions office, provides selected applicants with school recommendations 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: Akanksha, Indian research analyst at consulting firm seeks future in luxury corporate strategy.

Download Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One

It’s not enough to be a leader in an extracurricular role.

- PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: 20-something Indian female who graduated in 2012 from University of Delhi with a business finance degree. Describes herself as a “quasi-consultant” currently working at a professional services consulting firm in Delhi for a US-based client.

Why do you describe yourself as a “quasi-consultant?”  Either own the full term “consultant”, or drop it. It makes you sound young and whimsical.

From what I can gather, you’re a smart, eager businesswoman. That shows both in the awards you’ve racked up at work and from your go-getter attitude as an entrepreneur.

You’re in a tricky situation as a research analyst, however, as it’s sometimes difficult to describe leadership experiences, and quantify how much impact your work has had.

First of all, leadership. You are a leader in an extracurricular role where you work. But what about the money-making part? Have you ever stepped up to take the place of a manager on a project? Did you ever disagree with a superior on the direction of a project and have to win him/her over as a stakeholder? In your essays, you want to show how you punched above your weight as an effective, yet diplomatic leader on actual client work.  Also, be sure to highlight if you have received any promotions in title in the two years you’ve been at the consulting firm.

Next, your impact. Can you check back with your clients to see if any of your research has been acted upon? Also, in your recommendations, your recommenders need to comment on how you stood out above and beyond your peers in terms of smarts and leadership. You can’t write these letters for them–but there’s no harm in giving them a one-page achievement summary as a reminder of why you’ve won all those awards.

- GOALS: Move into a corporate strategy role at a large CPG or luxury firm.

With your work trajectory and your sideline in jewelry, this appears to be a solid goal. You need to draw a closer connection to any consulting work you have done on consumer products to show experience. Also, try to spruce up the website for your jewelry sales. Right now it doesn’t look very luxury. The pieces are attractive (a bit difficult to see because the photos are so dark), but more of a casual style instead of high end. If you’re going to highlight that as evidence of a trajectory toward the luxury market–it’s not quite there yet.  

- GMAT: Not taken yet. Aiming for 700-720.

Aim for a 720 or above. That will give you more options.

- GPA: 71%. First class honors.

This is a solid, respectable GPA. No worries here.

- EXTRACURRICULAR: Heads the ‘fun’ employee engagement club at her firm, comprising a team of >10 individuals. In October 2012, undertook a 5 day, 55 km trek in Northern India. Also holds a junior diploma in Hindustani Classical Music.

These are great, but nothing truly special or stand out. However, depending on the schools you end up choosing, you could talk about the discipline you developed in training in Hindustani music, and how that drive has bled into other aspects of achievement in your life.

- EXTRAS: Runs a bespoke jewelry business with mother, serving clients in India and overseas.

See above, under goals.

- SCHOOLS:

Because you haven’t taken the GMAT yet, I will only recommend schools that you should research: Wharton, Kellogg, NYU, Tuck, Ross, HEC, Emory.

Overall I find your profile intriguing, and I’d send you on for a second read if you’ve got convincing stories of leadership and ingenuity in your essays.

 Concerned About Your Low GPA or GMAT?  Find out what you can to do to get accepted!
Michelle Stockman Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

 

Related Resources:

• Your 3-Part Plan to Dominate the GMAT
• How to Show the Adcom that You are a Leader
• What are My Chances? Latina Software Developer Moving to Marketing

What Are My Chances? Indian Start-Up Refugee Seeking Fresh Start in Consulting or Entrepreneurship

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 #10: Tushar, Indian start-up refugee seeking fresh start in consulting or entrepreneurship

Read more profiles here.

The most important thing for you to do right now is to get a job.

-BACKGROUND: 27-year-old Indian male who graduated in 2010 from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University with an engineering degree. After eight-month search, hired as technical writer for engineering education firm. Switched to multimedia education start-up in 2012, but lost job after company hit cash crisis in 2014. Big impact was leading a social media marketing initiative before being made redundant. Currently looking to start own business.

You’ve been hit by some unfortunate turns in bad luck. You graduated into a still-recovering economy after the 2008 downturn, and got laid off by no fault of your own despite earning promotions along the way.

Right now is not the best time for you to apply to an MBA program. The story you want to tell is: You’re a comeback kid. But you’re currently at the low point of that narrative–the point when you started building toward a better future. Apply when you’re flying high off the rush of a career success. That’s what your competitors will be doing.

The most important thing for you to do right now is to get a job, both for your financial future and for your MBA chances. That can be with an established firm, or in a company that you start yourself as an entrepreneur.

If you eventually want to get into international-level consulting, see what you can do about getting onboard, at a leadership level, with a national or local consultancy dealing with education. Any interaction you have with the national government would be a plus.

You could take the entrepreneurship route, but that’s riskier. Really anyone can start a business. It’s about how successful you make that business, and what kind of wow factor you elicit in the ad comm for the innovation you bring through the product or service you’re bringing to market and how you made that company grow.

-GOALS: Short-term — Consulting. Long-term: Entrepreneurship

You’ve got your work cut out for you in terms of what you can tell consultants that you bring to the table. You do have some good education development skills. Figure out what you can offer on a technical level, then a policy level. Then do your research to find an MBA program that has a specific focus on the business of education.

-GMAT: 590

Ooh. This score is very low. You’ve got to improve this to have any chance, really, of going to a business school that will be worth your time.

-GPA: 72.5%

This is a solid, respectable GPA. No worries here.

-EXTRACURRICULAR: Volunteered for Times of India “Teach for India” initiative, teaching English to underprivileged kids. Also served as volunteer in 2012 Delhi half marathon and in the 2010 Commonweath Games. Just started a state-wide social initiative for women and girls’ safety.

You spoke to another consultant who said extracurricular activities are just “icing on the cake.” The ad comm first wants to see a solid track record of achievement and leadership in work activities.

In this, I would have to agree. You need to extracurriculars to show you are a well-rounded individual. But unless your activities are absolutely extraordinary, they can’t make up for a less than stellar work record.  

-EXTRAS: Studied “Technology Entrepreneurship Online Course” from Stanford University in September 2013.

This is a great MOOC, but I don’t see it having a major impact to make up for other weaknesses in your profile.

-SCHOOLS:

You mentioned Kellogg and Indian School of Business as your target schools. Kellogg has a great education focus that could set you up to enter the type of consultant practice you seek. At IIT you’re sure to get tons of job offers right down your alley. But right now your profile is not competitive enough for either.

Get a job, build your business, increase your GMAT. Orchestrate your comeback, then think about applying. 

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs
Michelle Stockman Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.

 

Related Resources:

Against the Odds: MBA Admissions for Indian Applicants
• Volunteering and Extracurriculars in Your MBA Application
• Indian MBA Applicants: Prepare for Your Job Hunt Now

What Are My Chances? Young Veteran Looking for Investment Banking “In”

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 #9: Eli, Army veteran and U.S. college student looking for investment banking “in”

Watch this video on how to show leadership in your application

Where is the evidence that you take charge?

-BACKGROUND: American male who will graduate in 2016 from Baruch College. Completed eight month finance internship at VR, Inc. “a corporation engaged in the innovation, development and monetization of intellectual property.” Served two years in the Israeli Defence Force. Worked for a summer at a home for developmentally disabled adults.

Going through your profile, I feel like I’m looking at a tidy construction site with a newly laid foundation. The structure looks like it will be solid. But gaping holes have yet to be filled, raw materials yet to arrive.

So let’s talk about that foundation. It looks good. You’ve accrued a strong mix of technical and business skills at university. An internship at VR shows off your IT skills. The philosophy minor and military experience sets you up, potentially, as an insightful leader.

But where is the evidence that shows you taking charge, making an idea into a reality, or convincing a reluctant group to take on a challenge? As you have relatively little work experience, I’d have to base that judgment off your military service. By what you’ve provided on your resume, I have little to go on.

-GOALS: Sales & Trading at a bulge bracket or high end boutique firm.

This goal makes sense with your past, although an internship at a bank would be stronger than at the intellectual property firm. That’s likely why you want an MBA–to get that “in” at an investment bank.

So what do investment banks want in their new recruits?  In his how-to-book, Andrew Gutman says IB recruiters ask themselves two questions. First, would I want this person working for me? She’ll want someone who has the intellectual capacity to handle complex, fast-moving transactions, plus the physical stamina and good attitude required to put in long hours. Your grades and internship demonstrate a keen intellect. To show you’ve got the guts, bring out stories from your military experience about making tough decisions under pressure, and keeping up morale during long stretches on duty.  

The second question is: would I mind being stuck at the airport with this guy? Can you handle hours of chatting about interesting subjects, or are you a bore? Your extracurriculars on campus show that you’re social. You put down snowboarding, classical music, fitness, and paintball as interests on your resume. Make these activities come to life in your essays. Show how you’re a leader, how you challenge yourself in perfecting your skills, and how you’ve developed your interior life.

-GMAT: ??

A unique choice. You’ve decided to take the GRE, but you have yet to take the test. That’s the big gaping hole.

Ad comms decided to accept the GRE to attract non-traditional candidates from liberal arts or hard science backgrounds. You, sir, fall into the traditional pool. It’s not against the rules for you to take the GRE, but you would raise fewer eyebrows if you took the GMAT.

Seek to score 720 or above.

-GPA: 3.8 with a major in finance and two minors, CIS and Philosophy.

This is a great GPA. It puts you right near the top of the competition at elite business schools. No worries here.

-EXTRACURRICULAR: Served on the executive board of the Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society. Active Member at Baruch Hillel.

It’s difficult to decipher, from your brief descriptions, how you impacted these organizations.

Will you go down in history for the epic activities you organized, the vast network you created for yourself, or the new avenues you forged to have a real social impact on the surrounding community? In your resume you need to be much more descriptive of what you actually did. Titles are not enough.

-SCHOOLS:

I really can’t recommend any schools for you without your GMAT score. All the programs on your target list are reach choices with your profile, even if you score a 720 or above on the GMAT.

My question for you is: what will you do if you don’t get into business school right away? You’re a unique case because you’ve had military experience and you’re a fresh grad. But you’ve done little actual work in finance. You could apply right now, but you’ve got to convince me of why now is the time for you to get an MBA, instead of a couple more years out on the job.

In conclusion, the big missing piece for me is: your military experience. From my understanding, the Israeli military is much less hierarchical than the U.S. military. So you have a chance to show not only leadership, but also how you asserted your ideas, perhaps when you weren’t in the top spot and had an impact.

The pieces of your profile make sense with your ultimate goal, but start filling in those gaps.

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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

 

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Your 3-Part Plan to Dominate the GMAT, a free webinar
• An NYU Stern Grad and Strat Consultant Helping Vets Get Into School
Two Ways to Reveal Leadership in Your Applications

5 Tips to Assess Your MBA Profile

Are your MBA goals clear?

Your goals should draw a clear connection from your past to your future.

I often tell my clients that an MBA application is like a mosaic. Each element contributes to create a full picture of who you are. Some pieces will be brighter or more colorful than others. Others fail to sparkle. You can either address those weaknesses — polish those dull stones — or decide to re-evaluate your school choices to be more competitive.

Here are five tips you can use to assess yourself as you narrow down your list.

1.    GMAT/GPA

Accepted.com’s President Linda Abraham summed it nicely in a post for Poets&Quants:

“If your score is more than 30 points below the average listed at your target school than you’ve got two realistic choices: You can either adjust your list of target schools and aim for MBA programs that have lower GMAT averages, or you can keep your list and retake the GMAT.”

That being said, it’s only one factor in your application. If you scored low on the GMAT, you may be an outlier in another area, which could mitigate your score.

Your undergraduate GPA is another factor the adcom considers. Those with a 3.6 and above are generally fine at top schools. If you had a wobbly semester or two, use the optional essay to provide context and discuss what you’ve done to address those weak areas. Perhaps you retook a few classes, or later enrolled in a continuing ed course to brush up your skill set.

2.    Work Experience

Top business schools are generally looking for folks with between 3-7 years of work experience. Certain professions are highly represented. At Harvard, the top professions pre-MBA are consulting, financial services, VC/PE and “High Tech/Communications.”  At Wharton, it’s consulting and military/gov’t/non-profit. At Stanford it’s consulting, VC/PE and military/gov’t/non-profit.  If you’re not a consultant, in finance, or a government wonk – that doesn’t mean you’re not competitive! MBA programs are also looking for diversity to bring differing viewpoints to class discussions. Take a look at this “fox in the henhouse” admitted to Harvard. What you need to communicate is how your achievements are extraordinary and how your background will add to the school’s diversity. That’s what will stand out.

3.  For international applicants, it’s work experience + international exposure. Or work experience + extraordinary accomplishments.

Take a look at profiles of students who head up international clubs at top US and UK b-schools. More likely than not they have one of two boxes checked.

1.  They have significant international experience working outside of their home country, often with a multinational company or recognized global organization.

2.  They’ve done something truly extraordinary in the context of their profession.

If you have never traveled or worked outside your home country, then your accomplishments should stand out anywhere around the globe. I don’t mean test scores here. I mean introducing significant innovation at work, developing a skill, creating a business, or founding a socially-oriented activity that’s unique and interesting.

Are you networking for international assignments at work? If not, start doing so now.

Would you consider what you’ve done, extraordinary? If not, stop dreaming and start doing it now.

4.   Goals

Your goals need to make sense based on your past experience. They should draw a clear connection from your past to your future.

‘But wait!’ you say. ‘What if I want to switch careers?’ That’s fine – just show the admissions committee that you’ve already gained some exposure to the industry, and why your past experience will be an asset as you move forward.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the adcom will likely assess your employ-ability. Will your background + an MBA make sense to recruiters? Are you an international student? You may have a harder time getting hired by a firm outside of countries where you are already permitted to work. It’s best to show in your application that you’re flexible – you’re willing to return to your home country, get some more experience, then branch out based on your own networking.

5.   Fit and familiarity

Finally we get down to what I call,”fit and familiarity.” For example, have you taken a summer session course on campus? Are you an alum of the undergraduate program? Have you worked in the city where the school is located? You can then make a better case of being familiar with its curriculum and community.

Another factor is your post-MBA plans. Do you have experience in a school’s specialization? Do you have family in the area, or previous business connections that would lead you to happily settle in the school’s locale after graduation? Are you a big city kind of person, or do you enjoy the strong connections forged in smaller communities?

Be HONEST with yourself. If you don’t know, I strongly recommend a visit to campus if you can afford it. Rankings and name recognition are a place to start, but ultimately—this is a HUGE investment. Don’t make it the worst two-year vacation you went into debt for and will spend a lifetime paying back. Make it a transformative experience. Find an environment where you will thrive.

 

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

Download your free report: TOP MBA PROGRAM ESSAY QUESTIONS: HOW TO ANSWER THEM RIGHT! Detailed question analyses and valuable advice on how to answer the questions so your candidacy shines.

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MBA Action Plan: 6 Steps for the 6 Months Before You Apply
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MBA Rankings: What You Need To Know

What Are My Chances? Energy Sector Veteran With an Entrepreneurial Spark

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 recommendations 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 #8: Sachin, energy sector veteran with an entrepreneurial spark

Check out more MBA applicant profile evaluations!

Stop right there. Retake your GMAT!

Note: This profile request arrived with very little information.

Give me more details folks!

-BACKGROUND: 30+ Indian male who graduated in 2001 from Nagpur University in India. Chemical engineer with 12 years managerial experience in the natural gas industry.

Sachin, why now? That would be my question for you.

You’re on the older end of the scale when it comes to MBA candidates. You’ve got to explain why you’re ready to interrupt your career for two years, lose income, and perhaps give up your current management position to pursue an MBA.

It’s not enough to be in a mid-career funk.

At first glance, if you want to advance your career within the industry, you might fit better into an EMBA program. Have you considered that?

-GOALS: Progress career within the energy industry, pursue entrepreneurship allied to the energy sector, and contribute towards India’s social development.

These goals definitely make sense with what you’ve shared about your background. When writing your essays, you should share specific, personal examples from your work experience that show past leadership successes. Then state what skills you are missing that an MBA will address.

As an older candidate, you also need to show you have the industry network and connections to move into your next position. Don’t think you can rely only on career services to make this transition.

-GMAT: 580 Verbal-37 Quant-77

Halt. Hit the breaks. Stop right there.

This is not a competitive GMAT score. Other aspects of your profile are really going to have to stand out for you to be accepted to any school. Right now they do not.

Retake your GMAT.

-GPA: 73.5%

Very good GPA from a strong, though relatively lesser known Indian university in terms of international renown. It’s not so important though, as you graduated more than a decade ago. Your GMAT is a better indicator, at this point, of your ability to keep up in an MBA classroom.

-EXTRACURRICULAR: Teamwork in social activities.

This is very vague. What kinds of activities? What did you accomplish?

-SCHOOLS:

Sorry. I’m not going to recommend any schools for you. Believe it or not, I’ve read applications with about this level of information from the candidate. They don’t get past a first read.

Sachin, you’ve got to go on some long walks and think about why you really want an MBA. What do you hope to achieve? What stories from your past indicate your leadership potential?

Don’t approach your MBA from a mental space of feeling stuck or wanting out of your current situation.

Research, have conversations throughout the energy sector, then connect the dots from your past to your future. Make your ability to do something extraordinary within your industry sound plausible.

Get clear, practical guidelines for answering the MBA goals essay question. Click here to download our free report.

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

 

Related Resources:

What are My Chances?: Rahul, the Indian Male IT Guy 
Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One 

Leadership in Admissions