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Case Study #3 of 7: There’s No Such Thing as a “Perfect” MBA Applicant

October 20 2020 By The MBA Exchange
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This is the third in a series of 7 case studies summarizing the challenges, experiences and success of business school applicants who in recent years have engaged the consulting services of The MBA Exchange. There’s no such thing as a “perfect” MBA candidate, but there are strategic ways to perfect your candidacy.

The featured profiles are:

#1. Low GPA

#2. Low GMAT Score, Qualitative background

#3. Undifferentiated/Technical work history

#4. No international experience

#5. Short work history

#6. Re-applicant

#7. Older applicant

These descriptions confirm that, while most applicants are not “perfect,” through well-planned strategies and diligently executed tactics, admission is achievable at schools that they believe are beyond their reach.

If your candidacy relates to any of these case studies, then The MBA Exchange would love to hear from you regarding your business-school aspirations and challenges. Contact Us today!

Case Study #3: Undifferentiated/Technical work history

Applicant Profile for “Sunil” (not his real name)

Applicant Profile Table for “Sunil” (not his real name)
AcademicElectrical engineering major at a top university in India. Graduated with a 3.8 overall GPA. Then earned a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from a top-20 US university
Professional3 years of experience as a software engineer
Non-work activitiesServes as a volunteer in Rotoract community projects. Participates in some activities as a member of undergraduate alumn
Post-MBA goalBroaden expertise beyond the engineering realm by working as a strategy consultant
Target schoolsWharton, Chicago, Michigan and Tuck

The MBA Exchange’s Solution

Although Sunil can clearly master the quantitative and analytical rigor required by MBA programs, his professional experience is undifferentiated and highly technical. We reviewed our experience with past clients who had similar profiles and goals, and devised the following four-part strategy to enable Sunil to diversify his candidacy:

  • Pursue a leadership role in firm-development initiatives, such as recruiting or community service, at the software company.
  • Become more involved in extracurricular activities at a leadership level by serving as a volunteer leader in Rotoract community projects, and organizing events for undergraduate alumni association.
  • Delay application until Round 2 to allow more time to cultivate the above roles.
  • Refine interviewing skills to convey breadth of knowledge and interpersonal skills not typically associated with a highly technical background.

Applicant’s Outcome/Results

Sunil followed our advice, and secured roles as leader that year of his firm’s Employee Volunteer program and as member of the executive board of his undergraduate alumni association. He also began to lead various Rotoract community projects, which enabled him to source an additional recommendation from the executive director of a community organization. We worked diligently with Sunil to develop powerful essay content that communicated the value of these experiences as well as his professional accomplishments. We helped him align his strengths with the selection criteria at his targeted schools. Sunil was ultimately offered admission to Wharton, NYU and Tuck including a five-figure merit-based fellowship.

In order to capitalize on our experience and advice as Sunil did, The MBA Exchange invites prospective clients to request our expert, free, preliminary evaluation up to a year before they apply to business school. Engaging us for a Comprehensive Consultation will allow you time and proven strategies to strengthen your candidacy and then to prepare more compelling applications that maximize your chances for admission.

Client Comments

Initially, I grappled with how I could possibly differentiate my application from the thousands of other applicants with Indian heritage, high GMAT scores and engineering backgrounds. The MBA Exchange worked with me over the course of almost a year to further develop and enhance my personal and professional background — and stand out from the rest of the application pool. Thanks to their dedicated efforts, I received admission to three leading business schools!