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Common MBA Application Mistakes - Finance Professionals (Part 2)

By Caryn Altman
Former Admissions Officer, Kellogg School of Management
Senior Consultant, Stacy Blackman Consulting

10 Common MBA Application Mistakes made by Finance Professionals
(Mistakes 4-7)

As an MBA applicant with a background in finance, you’re no doubt wondering how to stand out from your equally impressive peers. No matter how remarkable your pedigree, the truth is that no business school wants a class filled with individuals from only one particular background.  

As we pointed out last month in the first part of the Top 10 list of common MBA application mistakes,
there’s a right way and a wrong way to attract the admission committee’s attention.

Let’s dive deeper into what finance professionals should avoid, and what makes for a successful MBA application.

Mistake #4:Failing to leverage your interests outside of work

While most of your peers will have similar work examples, you are the only one with your particular hobbies, interests, friends, and family. What are your passions outside of the office? You’re missing out on a critical opportunity to connect with the admissions committee if you don’t tap into your personal pursuits to add another dimension to your MBA application.

When you reflect on your life, think about the differences that can help you stand out. It can be anything from education to the family to activities and interests. What do you spend your free time and money on? What values have you inherited from your family? Take those differences and create a nugget of a story to include in relevant essays to reveal more about you than your GPA or work history.

Mistake #5: Overlooking work accomplishments that fall outside the norm

Everyone in the admissions committee knows what an investment banking, hedge fund or private equity analyst does all day. Many of your peers are also working hard to gain admission, and thousands of applications later, your work experience may start to seem similar to all the others in the pile.

As you survey your peers, think about what you do at work that is outside your typical deal or investment focused work (and theirs). Instead of talking about the analysis you conducted or the due diligence you performed, think about the time you trained the interns or organized a community service event for your colleagues.  Maybe you created a new process or led recruiting efforts. Any of these “extra-curricular” work activities can be an asset to your application and help you stand out.

Mistake #6: Not explaining the meaning behind your career goals

Whether you are staying on your current career path or switching to something completely different, it’s important not to assume that the MBA admissions committee will understand why you are pursuing your specific career goals. Your task is to explain that you have consciously selected your future career plans through research, evaluation of your own strengths and weaknesses, and other intangible factors.
Your career goals should mean something to you, and you’ll need to communicate that meaning through your application materials.

Aim to demonstrate exactly how your career goals and personal history have come together into a path with real purpose. Obviously, not every candidate is planning to save the world after pursuing an MBA, but even if your career goals are not inherently altruistic it’s important to show that they have deep meaning for you personally.

Mistake #7: Not showing your collaborative side


How do you demonstrate teamwork when you are sitting solo in front of a computer screen all day? What if you work largely on your own projects for your associate, and very little with other analysts? Overall, it’s sometimes tough to feel like you are part of a team when you’re always performing tasks for senior level meetings and pitches. That’s the dilemma facing many of you as you answer questions that ask for your ability to work collaboratively as part of a team.

The most successful teams take the strengths of each person to counteract any weaknesses of others. As you enter your MBA program, you’ll bring specific skills that can be an asset to any project. Taking these key strengths and applying them to your business school environment can be a great way to showcase how much you will contribute to your learning team, your cluster or cohort, and any club leadership position.

I’ll be back next month with the final installment addressing the common mistakes finance applicants need to avoid. Until then, please follow SBC in social media and sign up for the SBC newsletter, where you’ll receive expert advice on all aspects of the MBA application process delivered straight in your inbox each week.

For a more in-depth look into the application process for individuals from a finance background, Download Stacy Blackman Consulting’s Quant Jock guide

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Top 31 MBA Programs + Analysis of 24 Industries (United States)


We analyze the MBA Curriculum, Class Profile, Total Cost and Post-MBA Salary of Top 31 MBA programs in the US.

+ Industry Trends

+ Future of Aerospace, Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Automobile, Clean Tech, Education, Energy, Fashion, Financial Services, Insurance, FinTech, Government, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Military, Manufacturing, Maritime, Media/Advertising, Technology, Tourism, Trade, Transportation and Logistics, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR).


Pages: 327

Reviews

"I have not reviewed many books for MBA Admission consulting companies but doing it now to give all applicants a brief idea on what the book covers. The book includes 31 top MBA programs - almost all the top schools you have heard or considering for your MBA application. Each chapter is categorized by US States where there is at least one top MBA program. So you have California and Massachusetts with the most number of MBA programs and several states with one top program (Washington, Minnesota, Washington D.C., Connecticut, Virginia, and Maryland) and other states with two to three MBA programs. The book focuses on four aspects of an MBA program - curriculum, cost, class profile and post-MBA salary. For me, the breakdown of the cost and post-MBA industry was useful to make my decision on selecting the top 5 programs for 2017-18. It is a fascinating read in an industry where consultants overprice for their expertise. I recently bought a 30-page guide for $49. Compared to the obvious observation in that book, the 300+ page, MBA in US - the Ultimate guide is a goldmine of information and analysis." - Verified Purchase (21st June 2017)

"I bought the ultimate guide after a friend recommended it for me. The guide covers a lot of ground on the history of each prominent US states and goes into the reasons why a certain industry emerged from each state. In addition to the analysis of the economy, trends and expected changes in the next 5 years, the book features top MBA programs in each state with an extensive study of its curriculum. Ultimate guide is an essential reference book for MBA Applicants if they want to shortlist MBA programs based on value and cost, and not just ranking. " - Verified Purchase (14th June 2017)

"Should be a required reading before applying for an MBA. School events and MBA Tours are PR events disguised as a Q&A. On the contrary, the book is an unbiased analysis of each Top MBA program in the US supported by a large dataset and historical context on each industry. The guide builds a case for indstries that are likely to emerge as favourite for MBA graduates. Thorough and a valuable book." - Verified Purchase (15th June 2017)

"What I liked: The breadth of the information. Some of my favorite nonfiction books have taken the same approach as the ultimate guide have - cover background information in-depth. In the book, the author uses parallel threads to demonstrate the history of the state and the rise of industries. Will make you think how schools thrive based on the policy set by the state. California's obsession with Technology has revolutionized how we do Business and changed post-MBA trends. Many MBA applicants will be consulting or doing marketing for a Technology company. That is one key finding from the book. The latest development in AI, FinTech, and Automation is an additional context that I found valuable in the book.

Very informative. I would recommend that you read the book at least once in chronological order before using Table of Contents." - Verified Purchase (2nd July 2017)

Download How to Choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide
(2018 Entering Class)

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