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Older, unconventional applicant profile

This topic has 3 expert replies and 2 member replies
islander19 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
21 Jan 2017
Posted:
6 messages

Older, unconventional applicant profile

Post Sat Jan 21, 2017 10:27 pm
Hi,

I'm looking for some input on my chances for MBA applications. My dream would be to go to Tuck and I plan to apply Early Action later this year. I would be 32 years old when applying, 33 years old at matriculation. I would also apply to a few other similar schools and likely one or two lower ranked. My goal for having an MBA is to go into management consulting with an international, particularly emerging economies, focus.

GMAT: I recently took a practice test from manhattanprep.com as an initial diagnostic, scored 720 (Q47/V42) rushing through and without bothering to look into how the test is setup or studying. I plan to take the real test in July (that's the closest date that I'll be near a test center) and am certainly aiming for 750+.

GPA: 3.6 from Ivy League, graduated cum Laude, High Honors with a degree in Social Sciences

Work Experience: I'm a U.S. citizen but all work experience is outside of the U.S. in (very) small developing countries, listed chronologically oldest to newest.

1 year volunteer teaching (secondary level, math and social science)
1.5 years paid teaching (secondary and tertiary levels, math, science, social science)
1 year as Director of an NGO (~30 employees)
2 years work for a foreign government agency (policy, developing legislation, community development)
4+ years (by time of application) managing a small export-oriented business (5 employees)

Also some consulting and part-time work including a current position as Program Manager for a development project.

My concerns are:

My age - older than average but hopefully not too out there?

My work experience - it is without a doubt unique and pretty fascinating. Everyone I meet loves to hear about the things I've done and how I've gotten to the point I'm at today. However I'm not sure how beneficial this is when applying to MBA programs, and have read that many prefer a short resume. Mine is not short, and a bit all over the place early on (teaching along with work for the NGO, public, and private sectors - I've done a bit of everything!). There are also some gaps of around 4 months between my first and second, and second and third, jobs though I'm not sure if that's long enough to raise questions? Overall the work experience/resume factor is definitely my biggest concern.

I do love the applicant-initiated interview process for Tuck. I certainly have plenty to talk about and think I would do great in that setting.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

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TaterwaysConsulting Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
Joined
20 Jan 2017
Posted:
11 messages
Thanked:
3 times
Post Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:33 am
islander19 wrote:
Hi,

I'm looking for some input on my chances for MBA applications. My dream would be to go to Tuck and I plan to apply Early Action later this year. I would be 32 years old when applying, 33 years old at matriculation. I would also apply to a few other similar schools and likely one or two lower ranked. My goal for having an MBA is to go into management consulting with an international, particularly emerging economies, focus.

GMAT: I recently took a practice test from manhattanprep.com as an initial diagnostic, scored 720 (Q47/V42) rushing through and without bothering to look into how the test is setup or studying. I plan to take the real test in July (that's the closest date that I'll be near a test center) and am certainly aiming for 750+.

GPA: 3.6 from Ivy League, graduated cum Laude, High Honors with a degree in Social Sciences

Work Experience: I'm a U.S. citizen but all work experience is outside of the U.S. in (very) small developing countries, listed chronologically oldest to newest.

1 year volunteer teaching (secondary level, math and social science)
1.5 years paid teaching (secondary and tertiary levels, math, science, social science)
1 year as Director of an NGO (~30 employees)
2 years work for a foreign government agency (policy, developing legislation, community development)
4+ years (by time of application) managing a small export-oriented business (5 employees)

Also some consulting and part-time work including a current position as Program Manager for a development project.

My concerns are:

My age - older than average but hopefully not too out there?

My work experience - it is without a doubt unique and pretty fascinating. Everyone I meet loves to hear about the things I've done and how I've gotten to the point I'm at today. However I'm not sure how beneficial this is when applying to MBA programs, and have read that many prefer a short resume. Mine is not short, and a bit all over the place early on (teaching along with work for the NGO, public, and private sectors - I've done a bit of everything!). There are also some gaps of around 4 months between my first and second, and second and third, jobs though I'm not sure if that's long enough to raise questions? Overall the work experience/resume factor is definitely my biggest concern.

I do love the applicant-initiated interview process for Tuck. I certainly have plenty to talk about and think I would do great in that setting.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
Hi there,

Short Answer : Though your academics are at par with the requirements of a top school like Tuck however we see your Achilles heel as your work experience. The focus should therefore be to strengthen your story of your work experience before the application.

Age is a factor in the application process with a lot of schools moving towards younger applicants. However, if you structure your stories well and present how age (and therefore, more experience) helps you be a better candidate, it will surely help you.

Long Answer : You have top grades from Ivy league and are likely to do well in your GMAT therefore from the academic front you seem good. However don't lower your guard till the time you get your GMAT score. We have seen many candidates doing well in the practices but not performing upto the mark in the actual test therefore be on top of your preparation.

Coming to your work experience we see a lot of switches and therefore for now we are assuming that bringing a lot of depth to your application is going to be difficult. Plus you did voluntary teaching for almost 1 year and another 1.5 years of paid teaching in small developing countries, now this experience could be seen under two lights, one that you have emerging economies experience but secondly how this experience will add value to the cohort of Tuck among other schools. Therefore before you start writing the application, its extremely critical for you to list your stories and see what can make the cut for the final essays.

Our recommendation :
1) Ace your GMAT : Your aim should be to go beyond 760 . This will also help strengthen your application from a pure academic perspective i.e. you could be seen as a candidate with exception scholastic achievements.

2) Strengthen experience : The work experience needs to be consolidated before the application process. For specifics we would recommend listing your stories worth talking about from your current work i.e. export operation business and yes as you said how you got there..

We will be happy to take this conversation forward at connect@taterways.com.

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www.taterways.com

Sign up for a free consultation:
http://www.taterways.com/free-consultation

GMAT/MBA Expert

VantagePointMBA Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts
Joined
22 Mar 2016
Posted:
38 messages
Followed by:
1 members
Thanked:
5 times
Post Mon Jan 23, 2017 12:28 pm
Hi there,

You have a fascinating background! As you have likely figured out, that’s both a blessing and a curse as it relates to your MBA applications! On one hand, you will have no issue with differentiation (as do many applicants from common pre-MBA career paths) but on the other, it may be more of a challenge to package all of that experience into a cohesive narrative that demonstrates progression, ownable achievements, and most importantly, a strong sense of purpose. In other words, your job in putting together your story will be to present a clear and simple “why” behind your past experiences and why they have led you to pursuing an MBA now.

Which brings me to my next point, which is “why are you pursuing an MBA now?” Addressing the time question directly as you develop you story can help offset the age factor. You’re right that US MBA programs do skew younger than your age, on average, but age is a not a deal breaker in and of itself in most cases. And in our experience, Tuck is one of the top programs (along with Kellogg, perhaps) that tends to be friendlier to more experienced applicants. Either way, the Early Action round is the way to go - so bravo for having that on your radar.

As for your academic track record, your undergrad experience seems great so I see no issues there. I agree with the advice above to not let your guard down on the GMAT. It’s a tricky test and a format that most folks have never experienced before. I expect you to do well given your past but make sure you’re doing everything you can to study and prepare appropriately. The good news is that you’re starting early so you have the time to do that well.

So as far as next steps are concerned, I advise acing the GMAT, taking a deep dive into your past experiences and connecting the dots in a way that will inspire your reader (and not confuse him/her!), and think about what other schools you would want to apply to as well. For what it’s worth, I’ve actually worked with quite a few applicants like you who had diverse professional backgrounds and worked with them to sew together a compelling story - with successful outcomes!

Anyways, if you’d like to chat further, feel free to take advantage of our free consultation! Either way, best of luck to you!

Kindly,
Melody

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islander19 Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
Joined
21 Jan 2017
Posted:
6 messages
Post Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:10 am
Hi,

Thank you both very much for your replies. That is certainly valuable feedback and it's good to hear that my work experience, while it could be a challenge, is not an insurmountable obstacle.

In the near term working on my GMAT is definitely my major focus. Based on the practice test I know that I'm all set with verbal if I slow down as I finished with lots of extra time. I do have areas to work on for the quant but I have a strong background from teaching math after college so I think it should come back easily. The advice to aim for 760+ is well taken and I believe within reach.

I am continuing to research schools to determine others that would be a good fit and while I'm certainly hoping for success with Tuck or one at a comparable level am also looking into Ross, Darden, and others.

I will continue my research and work on my resume and story and may get back at a later date.

Thanks

GMAT/MBA Expert

VantagePointMBA Senior | Next Rank: 100 Posts
Joined
22 Mar 2016
Posted:
38 messages
Followed by:
1 members
Thanked:
5 times
Post Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:37 pm
That sounds like a good plan! Best of luck to you!

_________________
Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting

We are admissions consulting: reimagined. Click here to learn more!

Post Wed Jan 25, 2017 8:27 am
islander19 wrote:
Hi,

I'm looking for some input on my chances for MBA applications. My dream would be to go to Tuck and I plan to apply Early Action later this year. I would be 32 years old when applying, 33 years old at matriculation. I would also apply to a few other similar schools and likely one or two lower ranked. My goal for having an MBA is to go into management consulting with an international, particularly emerging economies, focus.

GMAT: I recently took a practice test from manhattanprep.com as an initial diagnostic, scored 720 (Q47/V42) rushing through and without bothering to look into how the test is setup or studying. I plan to take the real test in July (that's the closest date that I'll be near a test center) and am certainly aiming for 750+.

GPA: 3.6 from Ivy League, graduated cum Laude, High Honors with a degree in Social Sciences

Work Experience: I'm a U.S. citizen but all work experience is outside of the U.S. in (very) small developing countries, listed chronologically oldest to newest.

1 year volunteer teaching (secondary level, math and social science)
1.5 years paid teaching (secondary and tertiary levels, math, science, social science)
1 year as Director of an NGO (~30 employees)
2 years work for a foreign government agency (policy, developing legislation, community development)
4+ years (by time of application) managing a small export-oriented business (5 employees)

Also some consulting and part-time work including a current position as Program Manager for a development project.

My concerns are:

My age - older than average but hopefully not too out there?

My work experience - it is without a doubt unique and pretty fascinating. Everyone I meet loves to hear about the things I've done and how I've gotten to the point I'm at today. However I'm not sure how beneficial this is when applying to MBA programs, and have read that many prefer a short resume. Mine is not short, and a bit all over the place early on (teaching along with work for the NGO, public, and private sectors - I've done a bit of everything!). There are also some gaps of around 4 months between my first and second, and second and third, jobs though I'm not sure if that's long enough to raise questions? Overall the work experience/resume factor is definitely my biggest concern.

I do love the applicant-initiated interview process for Tuck. I certainly have plenty to talk about and think I would do great in that setting.

Any input on this would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
You sound like a really interesting person... and that's a good thing in MBA admissions. You may, however, find you will get best results by conforming to convention in a few areas- like your resume. No matter how interesting you are, most likely you will still do better with a 1 page resume. Maybe you could be 2 pages- but learning how to distill down to the most important is a skill that will serve you will in this process. It sounds like you are doing everything right. We have some excellent counselors who are Tuck alums and they could be very helpful to you in this process so please keep us in mind- to learn more about how we can help you - here is a link to a free consult: https://stratusprep.com/free-consult/

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