You’re digging into MBA application requirements and starting to think about exactly who to enlist for support in the form of letters of recommendation to be submitted with your bschool apps. Most schools require two recommendations; a tiny few including Michigan Ross want only one; a handful of specific programs want three (as of this…
Fuqua? McDonough? Kenan-Flagler? INSEAD? Haas? Ever wondered how in heck to say these words? You might want to figure it out before you talk to anybody about them. Like, in an interview perhaps? These are not official phonetic spellings (we’re not sure the rules of all that), they’re just our attempt to help you not…
Some time ago we had an exchange that went like this: I am an Indian male engineer. There, I said it. I am in college so, had no shillings to use your charged services. I really hope you answer this!!! Please…please…please do. So i recently took GMAT and got [a great score]. Now, I applied…
Today is the first day for Wharton interview invites to be issued. Good luck to all of you Wharton applicants awaiting news! You’ll likely wear a hole in your mouse as you refresh your inbox umpteen million times in the next few weeks, waiting to see if it’s come in.
You’re likely well aware of the semi-unique Wharton interview format called the Team-Based Discussion. Ross has something similiar. So does IESE, though we don’t mention them much around these parts. If you’re interviewing at Ross or Wharton or IESE, congrats! And, you have many reasons to be nervous.
Well no you don’t, ‘cuz you’re reading the EssaySnark blahg, and we’re here to help you through all phases of your apps, including this nerve-wracking group interview.
It is nerve-wracking. You’ll be walking into that room alone, and you’ll be meeting a bunch of people with whom you must cooperate and collaborate and team-dialog and all… but with whom you also know you’re COMPETING.
Actually, no, it won’t be as bad as all that. We’ve heard from BSers who went through this in years past that while they can tell that people are nervous and uncomfortable, the group exercises actually tend to go OK. Nobody is monopolizing the stage; nobody is butting in and being rude to try and get more than their fair share of air time. Last year, Wharton’s then-Admissions Director Ankur Kumar said that some groups went out for drinks together after their interviews were over.
Even though technically, you’re sort of competing with the people in your group exercise, you could think about it differently: Maybe everyone in your group will make it in.
If you go into it with the attitude that “Hey! Wouldn’t it be cool if all of us got into Wharton?” then you’re likely to have the perfect attitude that’s needed for openness and collaboration in a group exercise.
Which will make all of you look good.
Which might even result in all of you making it in.
Obviously the facts of life dictate that not everyone in every Wharton group exercise will actually be admitted. They interview a helluva lot more candidates than they have room for at the school.
And call us naive, to believe that positive thinking and holding an attitude of all-of-us-might-be-admitted in the mind can have an impact on team dynamics. But we do sort of tend to think that way.
Certainly if you go into it with that level of open-mindedness and optimism, it’s going to help the thoughts flow and it might let you come up with better ideas. If you’re stressed out and nervous, you’ll be in a constricted state mentally, which can’t be a happy place to operate from.
Yes, the group interviews are about meeting your competition – but not really. We’ve seen it many times, when someone helps someone else look good, they’re the ones who end up looking the best.
Don’t overthink this stuff. You made it to the group interview. That says a lot. You got something going on, in a big way! You’re showing evidence of being a go-getter dude or chick. Resist the temptation to overresearch your group topics or overrehearse your ideas. For Ross and IESE, you can’t even do that; they don’t offer you anything to prepare for. Just show up, in your spiffy suit, and be prepared to be yourself. That’s what will let the adcoms learn the most about you.
No toe-stepping. Boost each other up. Show the adcoms that you’re helpful and collaborative and all those happy adjectives that they want to see in a candidate. Put your money where your mouth is after all that hype you spewed in the essays about “teamwork” and “culture” – this is where the rubber hits the road, Brave Supplicant. Good luck as you go in there to wow them with your collaborative awesomeness!
You may have noticed EssaySnark’s blahg post about IESE recently – and you may have noticed that we were lucky enough to get an actual IESE alum contributing a comment to clarify about languages in Barcelona. Well guess what? We’re thrilled to be presenting a Guest Post from him, explaining how he came to choose his schools. This is from a graduate – his MBA experience is over and done with – as far as we know, he never even read the blahg while he was applying, so this is by no means our attempt to claim any credit whatsoever for this particular success story! But we thought many of you would find his story useful and we’re very pleased he chose to share it with us.
So without further ado… we introduce you to Gonzalo, IESE alum!
Three MBA students, one at LBS, one at Columbia and another at IESE, walk into a bar…
Sounds like the start of a cliché, but in reality it was just two friends and I catching up in a pub in London after having endured the whirlwind that is “the MBA experience”.
At the start of our programs, it had initially struck me as odd that we had each ended up in such different schools (it was IESE for me). We had so much in common, came from similar backgrounds and, yet, ended up choosing different paths to pursue our MBAs.[Read-on if you want to learn about the framework I used to choose my schools. Fast-forward if you want to know why I chose to go to IESE].
I remember the stress of having to choose a school, and I feel your pain if that’s what you’re going through right now. The bad news is that you really do have to do your homework, and make sure you are applying to the right schools. The good news is that it turns out this isn’t that hard after all.
There are two main problems one faces when choosing a program. The first problem is one of ‘similarity’. There are so many schools out there offering MBAs that at times it can become challenging to identify what makes onebetter than the other. The second problem is one of ‘differences’. Each school is in fact different and you have to figure out what each one brings to the table, and how that plays into what you are looking for post-MBA. So how does one sift through the noise to find the right program?
Many applicants simply look at rankings and stop there. This is not an effective system, because if you look into matters in detail you’ll notice that there is a great deal of subjectivity in the ranking system. For example, ‘the Economist’ has ranked IESE the #1 business school in the world three times (in 2009, 2006 and 2005). However those same years the FT ranked LBS, Wharton and Harvard as the #1 Business School respectively. They both can’t be right, can they?
Turns out they can, because each ranking methodology is different and has its own metrics to determine their rankings. If what you want is to go to a top school, then look at the rankings in aggregate, and this way you’ll build a better understanding of which schools consistently make it to the top 10. The key here is to make sure you’re applying to good schools, without getting blindly swayed by a single ranking methodology.
However, even within this smaller pool of schools to choose from, there is still the problem of determining the differences. Your driver here should be what you are personally looking to get out of the program. For example, my friend who went to Columbia was looking for a great MBA without having to leave New York City. My friend attending LBS was looking for a two-year program but with a much more international mix than one would typically find in US-based schools, and which had a strong bias towards finance. As for me, I chose IESE because I also wanted an international two-year MBA, but one in a smaller-sized school (so I could truly form a close bond with my class-mates), and focusing on general management in order to help me develop the tools for diving into the entrepreneurial scene. On top of this I was attracted by the fact that IESE uses the case method, which is especially effective within the context of the diversity of professional and geographic backgrounds of IESE’s students.
My friend who graduated from Columbia is now a New York City based i-banker. My LBS friend did an internship at a Private Equity firm, and then landed a job in South Korea. As for me, I followed the siren’s call of entrepreneurship and ended up in the start-up scene of Berlin. My two friends and I continue to have much in common, but it is also true that our particular MBA experiences created different opportunities for us going forward.
Choose your schools wisely. Don’t just apply to where everybody else is applying, even if they’re your close friends. Don’t just apply to a school because that’s where your Managing Director at work went. Think about where you want to end up post-MBA, and move forward from there. The more flexible you are in terms of mobility, the more options you’ll have to choose from. Consider schools in Europe, or Asia(ever heard of CEIBS?). Lastly, the best bit of advice I can give is to make sure you are reaching out to alumni from the schools you are considering, and riddle them with questions. The more you know about the different programs, the better your chances of getting in, and more importantly the easier it will be for you to determine if it’s the right school for you.
Back at the bar none of us could look back with regret on our choice of schools. When choosing programs, we had each done our diligence, thought long and hard about what we wanted to get out of the MBA experience, and were able to clearly communicate our ambitions to our school’s respective Admissions department. In the end, it was the fact that we had made this effort that got us into our programs.
— Gonzalo Arenas [IESE ‘11]
One of the most gorgeous cities in Europe is Barcelona, and one of the best places to appreciate it is high atop the hillside where IESE’s new business school building now sits. If you speak Spanish (or want to learn it) then we highly recommend you consider one of the great bschools in Spain — and if you want an educational experience comparable to what you can get at HBS, then IESE should be your first choice.
IESE is modeled largely off of Harvard: They are the only school in Europe with an American-style two-year full-time program; they use the case method as the primary teaching vehicle; they put an emphasis on leadership in admissions and throughout the curriculum; they even have a program for college kids to apply that’s just like HBS 2+2 except theirs is called the Young Talent Program. HBS and IESE are the only two schools we’ve ever heard of with a speciality in sports business.
There are other similarities too – which makes sense, because the schools actually have an alliance. The powers that be at Harvard were advisors to IESE when they were first starting out.
Some of the differences are that IESE offers an EMBA program, plus their students are a tiny bit older than you’ll find at Harvard. Average GMAT scores are also less, as you might expect. Both the older-student thing and the more-reasonable average GMAT are standard at European schools, and IESE is in the same category as the best of them. Note that GPAs at IESE are closer to Harvard than other places – 3.6 or so is average.
Another main difference is – no offense Dee – IESE is incredibly applicant-friendly. Not that HBS isn’t – certainly Harvard has been leading the charge among American bschools in making the ordeal of applying less stressful on BSers, what with their midcycle “release” process that they introduced a few years back (basically what that means is, if they know they don’t want you, you’ll find out fast – this is exceedingly kind to BSers, in our opinion).
However, check this out: IESE gives feedback on profiles. That’s before you apply.
They also have this very cool assessment process as part of their interview – it’s similar to what Wharton adopted this year (yeah IESE had it first). We think this assessment is one of the most equitable ways of assessing candidates and we expect more schools to embrace it over time. The group assessment at IESE is in addition to the interview; you still have an opportunity to
sweat through your shirt shine in a one-on-one setting with an admissions person.
IESE is on the lookout for high-performing candidates from anywhere in the world. You don’t have to speak Spanish to apply — like most European schools, the entire curriculum is in English. You probably need to know Spanish to live in Spain though if you’re good at gesturing, maybe you’ll be fine – the Spanish are very animated, you may fit right in with that approach.
We heart IESE. You probably would too. The biggest risk with a Spanish MBA is you won’t want to leave the country when you’re done (your mom won’t like that).
>The ISB contingent has found the blahg!Today’s essay is from a Brave Supplicant who got the memo about showering compliments but then got a little anxious and started getting a bit pushy. No matter. We’ll still offer some commentary on the ISB career goals essay that he sent over.Here it is: Where do you see…
My, my, my, didn’t Wharton mix things up this year? Only one of these questions has even a whiff of anything from last year (the “failure” question). Actually, Wharton tends to issue brand-new questions every year. Maybe they get bored. EssaySnark sure does. Reading bschool essays all day long can make you want to gag….