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/
PROFILE #9: Eli, Army veteran and U.S. college student looking for investment banking “in”
-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.
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.
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.
Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.