You’re an Indian male with an IT background, or a consultant from New Jersey who majored in Econ, or a Chinese bank manager who also dabbled in engineering.
In short, you are an applicant who comes from an overrepresented background – what can you do to prove that you are a unique candidate despite your run-of-the-mill profile?
- Highlight unique hobbies, interests, and activities. A good way to avoid being stamped “Typical” is to show that even with your unoriginal professional/social/geographic/economic background, you are in fact quite a distinct individual. For example, you’re an Indian IT male who is also an underwater photographer who’s won three international marine photography awards (and the first was when you were 12 years old). Or you’re a consultant from New Jersey who has also run a successful home-based empanada delivery business for the past four years. You get the point – you may have a typical job, but you’re definitely an individual.
- Be specific in describing what you do and what you have done. Are you an engineer or an environmental engineer who worked in the rain forest near the Amazon? Do you volunteer or have you led teams in building 5 houses for Habitat for Humanity? A few concrete details distinguish and differentiate.
- Reveal non-traditional goals. Not all similar pasts lead to similar futures. By being as specific as possible in the description of your post-MBA goals, you’ll prove that while your professional experiences may look like others’ in the crowd, your future goals are distinct – you’re headed somewhere entirely different!
- Create essays that reflect your personality. If your resume and stats won’t set you apart from the crowd, then you’re going to have to work extra hard to make sure that your MBA essay truly embodies what’s special about you. Use your distinct voice to relate your unique personality. There may be hundreds of accounting majors applying to your target school, but there’s only one with your individual traits, passions, visions, goals, and perspectives – YOU!
- Choose recommenders who really know you. The better your chosen recommenders actually know you, the better job they will do praising your unique talents and attributes. The recommender with the most impressive title isn’t always the best person for the job. Instead, choose someone who you know and trust, and who knows not just what you’ve done professionally and/or academically, but who you are as a person.
For more tips on how to distinguish yourself in your MBA application, please see Diversity, Overrepresentation, and You.