Our 12 Terrific Tips blog series offers specialized advice for MBA applicants in a range of situations – from deciding between an MBA and EMBA program, to applying as a member of an overpopulated sub-group, to acing your interviews…and loads more! Here’s the first post:
As members of one of the largest sub-groups in the MBA applicant pool, candidates with finance/investment banking/private equity/venture capital backgrounds are really going to need to step up their game! You’ve got competitive stats and a strong resume…but is that enough to make you stand out from the other highly impressive candidates? How can you demonstrate to the adcom that you’re more than just a quant buff in a nice suit?
How can you really make your application stand out?
1. Showcase your non-quant strengths. We all know that you’re a super-strength number-cruncher, but so are the other finance applicants (not to mention the programmers and the engineers). Highlight your verbal abilities and your communication skills by talking about your experience at Toastmasters or on your college debate team, and of course, by writing a slam-dunk application essay.
2. Discuss your non-professional talents and achievements. Your resume is impressive, but once again, you won’t be the only one with work experience worth bragging about. What else are you good at or passionate about? What do you care about most that is unique to you, that won’t clump you together with the others in your sub-group? Maybe you’re a skilled weaver or a member of your local hospital’s clown troupe. Maybe you’ve spent three summers as a Habitat for Humanity participant. Maybe you started a local lacrosse league and manage your own team. These are the things that will make the adcom pause and think, “This is someone I’d like to get to know!”
3. Delve into the WHY of your career goals. Your resume should nicely detail your work experience, but it will say nothing about how you envision your future. This is where your essays step in. Will you continue to pursue a future in finance? If so, why? What is it about private equity that intrigues you, excites you? Do you plan on shifting or changing your career path? How has your past investing experience motivated you to make this change? What does this change say about you? The adcom readers seek thoughtful individuals who have internalized the past and pondered the future. Share your insights to help you stand out in this way.
4. Use your voice. I know that just because you work in a popular industry, it doesn’t mean that you have nothing unique to share. You know this too. In fact, even the adcom know that every person is unique. But unless you speak (or write) using that unique voice, it’s true that your application will get lost in the shuffle. Don’t use large words if they’re not words you’d generally use. Don’t try and add a joke if you’re not genuinely a natural comedian. Don’t tell stories that you think the adcom want to hear but that aren’t on topics or experiences that you actually care about. Instead, speak naturally and openly, so that your true colors shine.
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