MBA - Application Process

A Unique Story and GMAT Work Turned Into Success

This article is sponsored by Personal MBA Coach.

MBA candidates are often interested in learning how their peers have been successful and how they can emulate this success. This is particularly true for candidates who do not have the highest testing score or the most impressive resume.

The good news is that countless women (and men) have succeeded by identifying and highlighting what is truly unique about their profiles. Below, we have shared one candidate’s success story in her own words.

Julie initially struggled with GMAT preparation. Working for a small startup and having attended a large state school, she had a decent but not a remarkable profile. Her challenge was two-fold: achieve a stronger GMAT score while crafting a unique story.

Below is an overview of Julie’s profile:

Gender/Ethnicity: Female/Chinese

Years of Exp.:  5

GMAT: Low 700s

Pre-MBA Experience: Strategy & Consulting

Education: Large State School

GPA: High 3’s

Story development was key to Julie’s success!

Moving from a Big 4 consulting firm where she worked on performance improvement strategies, Julie had most recently joined a growing e-commerce company in order to have a bit more impact while working on growth and finance. Determining ideal post-MBA goals for Julie was important. To develop these, Julie considered exactly how much of a leap she wanted to take after business school. Should she return to consulting? Should she run a business? Her eventual goal is to run a growing business so the challenge was establishing the best way for her to get there AND laying out this path logically in her essays.

It was determined that a goal of working in corporate strategy for another growing e-commerce player, one that was larger and more established, would give her the tools necessary to succeed. Her essay preparation also included developing a list of both the tools she would gain in this role and how specifically she would apply them to achieve her long-term dream goal. Further, she analyzed the skills she needed to learn during her MBA and began drafting her story.

Having a carefully and logically thought out career path, along with specific details on how an MBA would help her get there, facilitated Julie’s ultimate success!

Personal MBA Coach: What was the hardest part of the application process?

Julie: The hardest part of the application process is coming up with your story and balancing your work and life at the same time. We had to figure out what stories, experience, and angle to use for specific programs and schools. The process of narrowing down my life experience is daunting yet introspective.

It is probably the hardest part of the application process to figure out who I really am and who I want to be with the supporting evidence to tell the story.

The other hart part is how to balance work and life during application process and not to go completely “crazy.”

Personal MBA Coach: What was the biggest surprise for you throughout the application process?

Julie: The biggest surprise was how much the admission committee knows about you when you get invited to the interview stage. I often thought that all applicants are like a number to the committee. However, in my personal interview experience, a lot of my interviewers actually read my resume and asked pointed questions instead of the more general ones. I am glad that I prepared accordingly by school!

Personal MBA Coach: What key learnings did you take away that you would like to share with others?

Julie: My biggest takeaway throughout this process is that the admission team conducts a very well-rounded and comprehensive evaluation of a person’s application instead of just focusing on GMAT scores or a singular factor. I was very concerned about my relatively low GMAT score, however, I focused a lot of time on my essays, my resume, and extra-curriculars.

In the end, everything came together and I got good results. Don’t focus too much on one part of your application. Build a well-rounded profile for yourself and stay true to yourself. 

Personal MBA Coach: What do you wish you had done differently?

Julie: I would start taking the GMAT test earlier. I applied Round 1 and I was still taking tests when I was finishing up my essays and applications, which was quite stressful. I would suggest that everyone get that out of the way first.

Luckily once I started tutoring, my scores improved. But I should have started that earlier.

Personal MBA Coach: Do you have any final pieces of advice for perspective candidates?

Julie: As cliché as it sounds, enjoy your application process. Looking back to it, I think it was a very good soul-searching exercise for me. As we are busy with work and life, I think it’s great to have the opportunity to be introspective about yourself. Best of luck!

Need personal support? Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year. Our comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.  Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate.

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