How I got into NYU Stern: A Product Manager’s Account
In this post we’ll look at the debrief of a successful tech product manager who got into NYU Stern for an MBA.
Candidate: “I’m a product manager at a well-known social networking tech giant (not Facebook), prior to that I had successfully sold my startup to this tech-giant and was absorbed as a product manager. I have a BS/BTech in computer science from a top Indian tech university.”
Summary: 28 year old Indian male, product manager at a tech-giant in silicon valley. BS in computer science from a top Indian tech school (IIT).
1. GMAT: 770
2. GPA: 8.9/10.0 (Indian Scale).
3. Work Experience: 36 months as a Consultant (1 promotion -> Software Engineer to Product Manager)
4. Employer: Renowned tech-giant.
5. Extra-Curricular: Cultural Clubs/Campus Newsletter Editor/Head of coordinating team organizing college fest.
Objective: “Transition into top management positions at a global tech giant”
Interview: “The interview was very challenging and I was asked a lot about why I wasn’t looking at working on startups and core-tech/engineering since I was successful at it in the past. I had to explain why I now like management more. I was quite prepared since this was a common interview question posed at anyone looking to do an MBA after engineering. But somehow, my answers even as I explained, didn’t seem to come out quite convincing. Though in the end I came out of the interview exhausted and thinking I’ll never hear back from Stern, I was pleasantly surprised to learn later I had been admitted.”
One factor that prominently stands out in your profile is the 770 GMAT – that is very impressive. So is 8.9 GPA in CS from an IIT. I didn’t go to an IIT myself, but because of my Indian engineering undergrad do know quite a lot about the IITs and their selectivity. Nonetheless other factors such as tech giant employer, promotion and alright extra-curriculars make this an overall competitive profile. no wonder you got the admit despite not doing great in your interview, though from your description of the interview I really think you got quite lucky.
There are however, rich lessons to our readers in your interview experience. Adcoms have a tendency to dig deep into aspects of your profile that they find intriguing and not consistent with the rest of your application. It may not necessarily be a bad sign if they corner you on these inconsistencies in your interview. The interview is then a great opportunity for you to go out there and clear any confusion/doubts in the their minds.
How I got into MIT Sloan: An Oil Baroness’s Account
In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at MIT Sloan, and effectively see how to get into MIT Sloan.
Candidate: “I’m an American female in my late-20s. I applied to MIT Sloan among other schools such as Wharton and Stanford. I was rejected after an interview at both these schools, but converted successfully my Sloan interview. I worked for a top oil-drilling and exploration firm, before applying to Sloan.”
Summary: White female, with a Bachelor’s in engineering from an American, non-Ivy University, working at a well-known Oil drilling/exploration firm.
1. GMAT: 750
2. GPA: 3.8/4.0
3. Work Experience: Process Engieer/Field Manager, 54 months with 2 promotions at the time of application
4. Employer: Oil Exploration/Drilling
5. Extra-Curricular: Charities and Sports (not too accomplished).
Objective: “Transitioning into oil-based consultancy.”
Interview: “I was asked about my extra-curriculars which were clearly sub-par. However this was unlike my interviews at Stanford and Wharton, where most questions revolved around my career. At the end of the interviews, I knew I was definitely not going to get through MIT Sloan, but I probably had a chance at Stanford and Wharton. When the results came I was in for a surprise.”
Editor’s Analysis: This is no surprise at all (getting into MIT Sloan)! A 750 GMAT and a solid 3.8 GPA are a stunning combination. One thing is for certain your rejection at Stanford and Wharton didn’t have anything to do with this.
Your post-MBA objective is extremely solid and plausible: you did a great job at your ‘top oil-exploratory’ firm (something tells me this is Schlumberger/Shell), now you are looking to move into the lucrative oil consultancy business leveraging on the expertise gained from a successful (2 promotions) career. From a work-related perspective, this is a very competitive profile.
Getting to the weaker bit: extra-curriculars. ‘Charities and Sports’ is not very inspiring. This is certainly a let-down, but perhaps easily explainable and can be compensated (I presume you handled the MIT Sloan interview well, given the probing questions on your extra-curriculars), given the stellar performance on GPA, GMAT, and work experience. So MIT Sloan is really not a surprise – MIT Sloan is an exceptional B-School, and I think you really deserved the admit.
What then is a surprise? Your rejection at Stanford and Wharton, that too after an interview where you weren’t even asked many questions on your extra-curriculars. Given the way adcoms think, its possible that there were several candidates from an oil-background in your application cycle to these schools (Stanford and Wharton). Given the high-level of competition, its possible that these candidates had a better/slightly more interesting profile than yours. The way most adcoms work is to not seek out weaknesses in candidate profiles and compare them with strengths of other candidates, but rather compare candidates strength-to-strength. That’s probably the reason why your extra-curriculars were not too important to these adcoms. They asked you questions on your Oil career, possibly since they had other top performers with an oil-background to compare you with. Unfortunately, I think this is were you didn’t make the cut. (A lot of candidates apply to these top business schools with an oil-background.)
How I got into Chicago Booth: Story of a Failed Entrepreneur
In this post we present to you the profile of a candidate successful at Chicago Booth.
Candidate: “Prior to applying to Booth, I was a Georgia-based financial adviser for a small audit firm. I did fairly well, and had gotten my Bachelor’s in Finance from a (reasonably) well-known University in Georgia. A couple of years before applying to Booth, I took a sabbatical from my job to try my hand at entrepreneurship. I had gotten fascinated by FinTech. With a friend I launched a FinTech startup, which ultimately failed. But the experience propelled me towards an MBA. I applied to Booth in the 2nd round and was accepted.”
Summary: White 27 year old male, with a Bachelor’s in Finance, working at a mid-size audit/advisory firm.
1. GMAT: 730
2. GPA: 3.8/4.0
3. Work Experience: 46 months with 2 promotions at the time of application
4. Employer: Renowned Audit/Advisory, Georgia
5. Extra-Curricular: Boxer – county champion;
Objective: “Moving into investment banking and private equity. Private equity since I had startup experience.”
Interview: “I was asked about my fling with the FinTech startup, and why I didn’t mention going back to entrepreneurship as my post-MBA objective. The interviewer told me that after all an MBA from Booth could put me in an excellent position in terms of the skills and the networks available, to become more successful in entrepreneurial ventures. Boy that was a difficult question for me to respond to. I told her that my startup experience had convinced me firmly that entrepreneurship was not my forte and given that I was already fairly successful in my career in finance/audit, it made sense to invest in gaining expertise at something which I was already good at.”
Editor’s Analysis: A reasonably good profile, though “county boxer” seems quite exotic. A 730 GMAT for Booth is just above the median (726). GPA is great and so is the work experience with 2 promotions. While, an audit/advisory firm doesn’t sound very glamorous, its not all that bad. This could have been overlooked given that the candidate did get 2 promotions in the course of his/her job. Also there’s the elephant in the room: failed FinTech startup. Well, in the past we have seen different schools reacting differently to a failed startup on the resume. The same school has also reacted differently on different occasions. The fact that the candidate bounced back and only took a sabbatical to experiment his/her idea is a good booster. I’m guessing the candidate got his/her second promotion after the startup gig. In which case its understandable that his/her ability to get back must have impressed adcom.
I think the candidate did extremely well in the interview, there are some obvious weaknesses in the profile that have been well defended and coherently explained away, consistent with the rest of the application. As post-MBA goal of taking up entrepreneurship is getting terribly clichéd, so is the question, “Do you really need an MBA to become an entrepreneur?”. In this case adcom attempted to put the candidate in a spot, the candidate responded extremely well by affirming that entrepreneurship is not his/her forte.