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 http://reports.accepted.com/what_are_my_chances.
Profile #6: “Camilla” Latina software developer, plans a move to marketing
-Background & Work Experience: 29-year-old US citizen Latina with B.S. Comp. Sci. from a UC. Started out as developer at mid-tier financial software company, promoted to team lead of major account. Moved to startup that grew from 80 to 500 people and was acquired by giant e-retailer. Now working as a team lead in product management.
Well played. Looks like you’ve handled your cards well while riding the wave of growth in the tech industry. Right now you’re two of a kind. You’ve got hard skills as a developer, and it seems, you’ve got charisma. You not only kept your job in an acquisition, but you’ve been promoted several times. Not everyone is so lucky, or should I say, so savvy at securing a leg up when bought out, says the tech industry grapevine.
The adcom will want to know how you earned these promotions. In your resume and essays, really detail impact and leadership. Your resume bullet points should quantify what you accomplished on high profile projects. As you prep your essays, make a list of challenging projects and professional setbacks—especially dealing with dysfunctional teams. A huge part of marketing is managing creative personalities under huge amounts of pressure. How have you inspired others to perform their best?
-Short-term goal: Move outside product management into marketing.
As you’re switching functions, spend your essay real estate making the case for transition. Have you had any exposure to marketing through your experience in product management? Let them know you’re not just jumping blind because you’re bored or dissatisfied. Have you participated in a marketing initiative at your company? What did you contribute, and what did you learn about marketing? What do you still need to learn?
-Long-term goal: Start tech marketing firm.
As stated above – you need to make the case for switching industries. Show you’ve done your homework by talking about conversations or research on the future of the industry.
Not a good test taker? This is a little low. They could ding you on this if your GPA is also low. But on the upside, you are coming from an underrepresented minority. You also have a technical degree. Further, your work experience and promotions appear to speak for themselves.
-GPA: 3.62. First-generation college student. Supported self, and cared for ailing mother during college.
No problem with the GPA. This is really good, especially since you supported yourself and looked after your mother. It speaks to your time management and academic ability. Write about these mitigating factors in the optional essay if you had any semesters where you’re grades were a bit low.
-Extracurriculars: Due to family obligations, most of free time is spent with them. My brother was wounded in combat in Afghanistan, so as an extended family we are involved in the Wounded Warrior Project, supporting social events for veterans.
Don’t apologize! I would suggest writing about what you have done to help support your brother and other families through their recovery. Did you organize any activities, fundraising for families, or attend support groups? The details will show how this experience has shaped your outlook on service.
Safety matches: Purdue Krannert, Indiana Kelley
Final Note: As a woman, and a Latina – coming from an underrepresented minority in the hot tech industry – the adcom will be attracted to candidates who portray themselves not only as leaders, but also as pioneers.
Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant.