This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing our anonymous blogger, Top Dog.
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?
Top Dog: Hello, and thanks for the opportunity to talk about myself! I was born and went to school in the UK, studying for my Bachelor of Science at the University of London. I’m currently working in southern Europe as a global relationship manager for the largest corporate and investment bank in the energy and commodities sector.
Accepted: When did you first apply to b-school?
Top Dog: I applied to five top 10 U.S. business schools in 2013/14 (Rounds 1 and 2). I got two interviews (at MIT Sloan and Wharton) but unfortunately failed to get an offer.
Accepted: What do you think went wrong and what are you doing this time to improve your candidacy?
Top Dog: I don’t think there were any obvious issues – aside from my 12 years WE and relatively low GPA – but my applications were maybe a bit bland and failed to fully explain what I have actually achieved so far and my detailed reasons for wanting an MBA. This year I got the chance to lead an international team after my boss resigned – that’s definitely an experience I’ll be writing about in my applications that I didn’t have last time.
Accepted: Where do you plan on applying this time?
Top Dog: I’m going to be focused and reapply to MIT Sloan and Wharton, plus INSEAD for the first time. I’ve done a lot of research and love the location, culture, collaborative spirit and emphasis on entrepreneurship and social enterprise at these b-schools. I’m toying with reapplying to Stanford too – the lure of the West Coast is difficult to resist!
Accepted: Can you talk about your decision to apply to/attend a European program versus a U.S. program? What are the pros and cons on either side?
Top Dog: I have tried to balance my target b-schools this time and, while most top b-schools will give you a great education, there are differences. In Europe, I really like the international classes (INSEAD’s incoming class has 90 nationalities with c. 60% from outside Europe), but 10 months is short to fully experience the teaching, culture and career prospects on offer. In the U.S., b-schools simply rock the MBA – this is where the MBA was born and it’s still the best place to study it – plus it broadens my otherwise European profile, while the con would definitely be the cost – ouch!
Accepted: What stage of the application process are you up to so far? What has been the most challenging step and how did you work to overcome it?
Top Dog: I’m in a good position as I have my experience from last season so I’m all done with research, profile building and I’m about to start my essays. I’ve blogged about my mistakes from last time and I’m already falling into the first trap – leaving it too late to start writing my essays (where did July go!?). Another challenge was not keeping on top of my recommenders, and I’m definitely going to be focused on this this time around.
Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?
Top Dog: A big motivation for the full time (rather than exec) MBA is the ability to transition into a new field. Post-MBA I’ll go back into banking with a focus on business development and corporate social responsibility – ideally in the emerging markets – where innovation and entrepreneurship are rewarded skills. Longer term I want to combine my finance experience in a start-up, potentially a social entrepreneur focused micro-finance venture in an emerging economy.
Accepted: Why did you decide to blog about your experience? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
Top Dog: I got a lot of knowledge and comfort from other bloggers last season and I’d like to give something back to the MBA applicant community. My blog encourages me to keep on top of my applications while testing ideas with others in the same position (and some helpful consultants too!). In exchange, I hope I’m giving some useful insight, sparking a bit of debate and creating a sense of companionship among fellow and future applicants.
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