Today we’re sharing another tale from the trenches from a successful former BSer! This one is a little long so we’re breaking it into two parts. Here we get some practical advice from one who went before. Hope it’s useful to all of you who are just starting out!!!
I’ve entertained the thought of going to business school since I started working, for reasons that would become increasingly coherent and compelling throughout my career. Five years later, I was approaching the edge of the typical work experience window and in the best position to apply to MBA programs I’d been in thus far.
When I scored a 750 on my GMAT, I decided to go big and apply to the very best schools I thought I could get into. Having clawed my way up from being an unemployed finance graduate with no internship experience chain-smoking cigarettes in a studio apartment during the peak of the financial crisis to an analyst at a respectable middle-market private equity firm, I was reasonably confident in my ability to execute. However, I didn’t want to tackle such a critical and seemingly opaque process alone. Furthermore, as a White-or-Asian-Male-In-Finance (WAMIF? A reverse URM perhaps?), I knew I’d need all the help I could get.
I was biased against admissions consultants. I thought they were overpriced and borderline disingenuous: taking credit for results that would have happened anyway, pulling the wool over the adcom’s eyes, and creating an uneven playing field for applicants who couldn’t afford one. I had come across EssaySnark’s blog though, liked the content, and liked what I saw when I purchased his (or her, and I’ve entertained the possibility that EssaySnark could be a severely attractive librarian-type with hipster glasses – it would make the feedback easier to swallow) school guides. I liked the snarky tone and blunt delivery; I’ve been called a smartass myself, and it reminded me of my parents who tell me I’ve gotten fat when they pick me up at the airport. I also liked EssaySnark’s hardline stance on ethics: all work submitted must be your own, don’t write your own recommendation letters, and reneging on Early Decision offers is lame. I signed up for some professional assistance. I won’t discuss here, but I encourage you to read the reviews of EssaySnark’s services if you’re considering them.
Let’s skip to the ending here: I was admitted into one of my top choice schools with a very generous merit scholarship. I’d like to share some thoughts on what I learned along the way.
Focus on the process, not the result. Obviously, the results are the point, but beyond deciding which schools to apply to (or to apply at all), it’s much more productive to focus on executing your application strategy (rather than obsessing over your chances at each school and constantly refreshing each school’s thread on the GMATClub forums). From a logistical standpoint, be as organized as humanly possible. File things away on your computer consistently, save drafts, and plan a generous timeline to get everything done – because things will slip.
If you know that you’ve done your best at every step along the way, you can take comfort in the conviction that regardless of what happens after you hit “submit,” there was nothing more you could do to influence the outcome. Control the things you can control, and let everything else take a flying leap at a rolling doughnut.
Similarly, rather than try to fit your candidacy into a “perfect MBA candidate” box to impress the adcom, focus on actually representing your authentic self. Applying to business school is (or should be) a very introspective and reflective process that reveals a deeper understanding of your personal and professional self. You’re taking stock of your professional accomplishments, what makes you interesting or different as a person, what you what to do with your life, and trying to package that into a product. Yes, you’re selling a product and need to understand your buyer and how you’re marketing yourself. However, the adcom wants a real taste of your organic, non-GMO self rather than some pre-processed and adulterated swill that the Internet thought they’d like. The more maturity, self-awareness, and willingness to dig into your past experiences and future aspirations that you bring to the table, the more rewarding the application process will be.
This is just Part 1 – and so far, it’s refreshing advice, former BSer! Thanks also for the plug for our services. BTW, to all of you who may be wondering, when we ask people to send in a write-up of their experiences, we specifically do NOT ask for an endorsement or testimonial (though anyone can send one of those, too!).
And “no comment” on the librarian-with-glasses thing! We’ve never been accused of exactly that, but the underlying debate is long-raging. 😉
UPDATE: HERE’S THE SECOND PART!