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Semi-unorthodox Candidate. Please Evaluate. Thanks!!

This topic has 1 expert reply and 0 member replies
jhhatdaddy Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
08 Jan 2009
6 messages

Semi-unorthodox Candidate. Please Evaluate. Thanks!!

Post Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:57 am

Thanks for taking the time to look this over.

I am 28, Caucasian, Canadian Male. Bachelor of Commerce undergrad (3.4 GPA) from a top Canadian University. My GMAT is 700+.

After graduating I worked at a seasonal family business in the summer and traveled/designed web pages through my own little design company in the winters for three years. With the family business, I was involved in every aspect including HR, accounting, marketing and managing our partners and our government contacts. The seasonal business was great experience and I took on more responsibility every year. We were voted best in our industry by our customers (against maybe 100 alternate choices) my last year working there when my responsibilities were at their highest. In the winters I traveled, mostly to South America and designed web pages for clients in Canada.

The seasonal business had run the course of a 10 year government contract and I wanted a new challenge. So, I took an internship in Ecuador as an International Marketing Specialist at a Tourism Management Consulting firm where my role involved creating business plans and project managing web pages for local businesses. This internship was for 6 months and I left the position when my work permit expired. As a result I speak acceptable Spanish and learned a good deal about conducting business in Latin America. The most important thing I learned was that manana doesn't necessarily mean tomorrow (or the next day, or the next week for that matter)!!

Following Ecuador and some more travel I ended up in New Zealand. I was hired as a web designer/html coder at an e-commerce start-up that was backed by the nations largest TelCom. So a small start up with some serious corporate backing. After a couple months, I asked for and was given more responsibility and eventually left ten months later (when my work permit expired) as the Front End Product Manager. I was offered a permanent position but turned it down feeling that New Zealand was not the right situation at that point in my career.

For volunteer experience, I have tutored troubled youth at a correctional center and designed web pages for various non-profits at zero or minimal cost. EC: have played soccer pretty much my whole life. Been voted MVP of my team a couple times by my teammates. Lots of other hobbies but I want to keep it simple at this stage.

For why an MBA? I want to either continue in my technology vein or switch over to sustainability, which is a passion of mine. I implemented alot of sustainability measures at our seasonal business and would love the opportunity to tackle that challenge on a larger scale.

Finally, both of my parents owned small businesses and entrepreneurship is in my blood. Eventually I would like to start my own 'shop' combining sustainability and technology. I feel like an MBA from a top institution would steer me towards my path and provide that first opportunity out the door. I believe all my professional experience prior to this point has served to funnel me in the direction of an MBA.

I know I have some holes in my application. For instance I didnt stay at my more recent jobs for a long time, in all fairness I have expiring work permits to point to. I was going to pitch these short stints as project based work. Once the project is over I tackle the next challenge, which is entirely true. In both cases I completed a large, complex project just prior to moving on. Also moving around has given me a chance to experience conducting business in different cultures and environments.

Additionally, I travel ALOT. I have stuffed a passport since I finished my undergrad. I am overseas right now and had to go to the embassy to get a new passport so that I could see a couple more countries before heading home. I really feel like that phase of my life is coming to a close and I am ready to move forward in my professional career. But I am a little concerned about how the adcom committee will view it. Any schools that you are aware of that have a higher tolerance for travel? Any way one of your clients has tied this 'life experience' into their applications.

Total Work Experience: about 34 months plus about a dozen webpages designed and managed while traveling. Usually takes me a couple of weeks to do a page so I could probably round up to around 40 months.
GPA: 3.4
GMAT: 700+

Finally, my school list:

1. Stanford, whose #1 isnt Stanford? Love the blend of innovative thinking, international exposure and creative environment
2. Berkeley, The technology program, international opportunities and commitment to sustainability appeal to me. Seems you can go overseas every semester with this program.
3/4 Colombia/Stern, I group them together because they seem very similar to me. Maybe have not researched them enough. But both offer good opportunities in technology with international exposure(?)
5. IESE, love the opportunity to solidify my Spanish. The international exposure is immense and I really enjoyed the last time I went to school overseas (ESC Grenoble, France, exchange). Would rank the European schools higher on my list except for the stigma vs US schools.
6. LBS, international exposure. Some grads hired to Google which is a target company for me.

So what do you think? How are my odds? Is there anything I should focus on in the next year to improve my application? Would my application benefit from some professional outside help? Would I benefit much from getting my GMAT up over 750?

Thanks for looking this over!

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Eliot MBA Admissions Consultant
18 Sep 2008
193 messages
Followed by:
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Post Mon Feb 02, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks for your note. Yes, you clearly have solid academics and an interesting set of experiences - the challenge will be to make them interesting enough to gain admission to a top school. Essentially, it will involve developing a theme to connect the different aspects of your career to date. For example, you might have an entrepreneurship theme, 'seeking new challenges' theme, sustainability theme, etc.

Issues to Address:
1) Since you spent 3 years working for a seasonal family business, you will really need to show a lot of accomplishments and impact in this position. Be sure to show that you took on more and more responsibility and that you had a great impact. You will need to get a recommendation letter from the family business attesting to your impact.
2) Travel - this is tricky since many applicants to top schools have done a lot of traveling - meaning, this won't necessarily allow you to differentiate yourself. It would be better to focus more on "exploring other cultures" - meaning, travel as a means to exploring other cultures.
3) Equador experience - you will need to quantify the business impact of your work there (meaning, hopefully you can show that you actually helped entrepreneurs to start/expand their businesses)
4) New Zealand - it looks like you had some nice success here at the e commerce startup, but the adcom might wonder why you left after 10 months. In fact, you are showing a habit of avoiding long term full time work.
5) Current work? Are you currently working?
5) Career Goals - you will need to clarify your career goals, and show how your work experience supports your goals.

Honestly, I am a bit worried about the erratic nature of your work experience. While you have some interesting raw materials, you will really need a strong unifying theme to your candidacy in order to be competitive at top schools.

We do offer a free initial phone consultation if you would like to discuss your theme in more detail.


Eliot Ingram
Clear Admit LLC

Eliot Ingram
Clear Admit, LLC
215 568 2590

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