This blog post is one in a series of MBA applicant profile evaluations called “What are My Chances?” authored 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 evaluation of their qualifications.
If you would like Michelle to evaluate your profile at no charge and as part of this series, please provide the information requested at https://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances.
Profile #5: “Kyle” African-American politico, turned energy guy
–Background & Work Experience: 26-year-old African-American male graduate of top-tier Texas public university. Ran winning campaign of student body president. Worked on campaign of high-profile gubernatorial candidate (1 year), then transitioned to a Fortune 500 working in sales for energy saving performance contracts for cities and corporations (3 years).
What was that line from the latest season of House of Cards? “Power is better than money, until you’re out of power.” Looks like you were a savvy political operator, but lost the taste for it after losing a state race, or you’re facing some steep student loans and decided to take a high paying energy sector job? I could be wrong about both scenarios. If your hand was forced, by either a losing candidate or financial reasons, take heart – these can be good stories for overcoming an obstacle. Whatever the case, your leadership success undergrad and your current job in a trendy “green” slice of the energy sector make you stand out.
-Short-term goal: Energy consulting
Right on track. This goal makes sense with your past experience, and sounds plausible for your future. Do your research to find consulting companies who want people with your energy expertise. Make sure your b-school choices have good recruiting relationships with these firms.
-Long-term goal: Start-up in clean tech
Again, strong goal. Makes sense. After some time as a consultant, you could absolutely go on to work with, or finance clean tech start ups. The top schools, ie. H/S will want to see a sense of social impact with your goals. Keep that in mind if those schools are on your radar.
-GMAT: 710 GMAT (49Q/39V)
This is a good score – putting you in the top 10% of test takers. It’s a bit below average for the top echelon of schools, but with your experience – and if you interview well – it’s not worth retaking in my opinion.
-GPA: 2.5 (Double-major in Communications and Business Economics)
Yikes. This GPA is what I’m worried about for you. Looks like you were way more absorbed in your extracurricular achievements than in academics. This could cause some concern with the adcom. As a member of an under-represented minority, who has great leadership and a competitive GMAT, the schools may be willing to discount the GPA if you can provide context for your performance as an undergrad and evidence that it is not representative of your academic abilities. Your GMAT definitely helps, but a few recent A’s plus an optional essay about why your GPA is low are also necessary. Were there extenuating circumstances that caused you to miss classes, or did you just slack off? If so, what have you done since to show you have the intellectual bona fides to keep up with other b-school students?
-Extracurriculars: Last two years for Habitat for Humanity, including project with local green building architects to incorporate green design into homes; During college, heavily involved in campus politics and served as inter-fraternity Council President.
Your current extracurriculars line up nicely with your work interests and goals, creating a tidy package. It seems like you are a true leader, a people person. Talk that up in your essays – how you’ve been able to motivate others, create change, move organizations in positive directions. Make sure you communicate how your impact was vital.
Stretch matches: Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley
On-par matches: Yale, Michigan, NYU, UT, Duke
Safety matches: Rice, Texas A&M
Bottom Line: Check out some of the joint degrees offered by the schools above. Bonus if you can get it paid for (ie. scholarships). It never hurts to ask. You know how to get votes. Now convince the adcom/financial aid office you’re the next big thing in clean energy.
Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.