Please evaluate my chances at HBS

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Please evaluate my chances at HBS

by b » Mon May 12, 2008 10:45 pm
I'm looking for both a profile evaluation and suggestions on how to improve in the next 4-5 years.

Basic stats:
Age: 21
GPA: 3.6 from a top-25, non-Ivy school
GMAT: 750

Work Experience:
1 internship with Merrill Lynch in Investment Banking Division in NY
1 internship with JPMorgan in Investment Banking Division in Singapore
1 internship with local bank in Mongolia
1 internship with Standard and Poor's economic consulting arm

Extracurriculars:
-Volunteered at a Mongolian orphanage - helped establish a primary school for orphaned children.
-Committee leader for my school's chapter of Junior Achievement - a program where I organized a number of college students to teach primary, secondary, and high school inner-city youth basic courses in business and economics
-Volunteer tutor at an underachieving high school in Chinatown
-Graduate school research assistant and teaching assistant

Examples of leadership:
-Hired as an Associate Intern at the Mongolian bank (as opposed to the entry level position of analyst). As I was hired in a more senior level, I had the chance to manage a team of 5 analysts and interns during my tenure, and acted as the lead project manager for 2 of the company's largest deals.
-"Led" 2 of my peers to assist with the Mongolian orphanage project; arranged a field trip for the children that required careful planning and coordination by setting up transportation, arranging the site visit, etc.
-Had the chance to TA for a graduate level class, where I was teaching 25-35 year old students while I was still an undergraduate student. Also graded exams from MBA students at a top Paris-based business school.

My plan:
Work as an investment banking analyst for Merrill Lynch for 2 years, apply for private equity pre-MBA associate positions, and apply for HBS after completing 1 year in PE.

Would appreciate if you would answer the following:
1.) If I applied to HBS right now (instead of going through with my IB->PE->MBA plan), what are my chances for immediate acceptance to HBS with 0 or 1 year of full-time work experience?
2.) If I go through with my plan, I'm afraid of coming off too vanilla - same as every other banker out there. I feel that my current distinguishing factors are impressive only for someone my age, but the impact from these unique factors will exponentially diminish as time goes on. I'm sure that when I apply for bschool, the adcom won't care about what I did 5 years ago. Is there anything you can suggest that I do in order to maximize and distinguish my candidacy?

Thanks!

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by VP_MBA_Guru » Tue May 13, 2008 9:22 am
Hi B,

Thanks for your post. You have an impressive background and I am sure you are a strong candidate for a top MBA program!

B - while I am not too familiar with HBS's recruiting policies with regards to your situation, here is my take on applying to MBA programs post-undergrad (p.s. you should also do your own research and talk to others who might have a different opinion):

I think it is very difficult to get into a top MBA program without several years of work experience. There are exceptions, but very few (maybe 3-5 students in an entire class). And usually these students went to undergrad at the same school (i.e. Harvard undergrad). Or they are connected to some international family business, where they wish to complete their masters education before going back to the business. Basically its a significant uphill battle.

The IB-PE route make sense. While it is a competitive applicant pool, continue to find ways to differentiate yourself (analyst class rankings, promotions, higher-ranked PE firms, international opportunities, develop relationships with senior bankers, volunteer work).

To your second question - yes AdComs will consider your undergrad experience/extra-curr - particularly if you are able to speak a few of the experiences in your essays.

However, my guess is that when you do apply in a few years, you will have so many more fantastic accomplishments!

Hope this helps,

NP
Nikhil P. | Admissions Consultant | Veritas Prep